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The tale of Boris and Betsy


Having posted a picture of Boris, the gander, on a previous blog I thought I would just share his story.
He arrived to live with us on a chance and a whim! While shopping in one of the local towns I decided to have a look at the poultry auction which was on that day.
In a pen on the floor were two geese, nervous and extremely grubby.
I decided that they needed a new home and they could help out by eating some of the grass on the meadow, so I bought them as a present for my husband!
They travelled home in the boot of the car, sitting on a tarpaulin and paper and popping their heads up and looking out the back window. What other drivers thought is beyond thinking about.
Having arrived home safely I informed hubby that I had a present for him in the car and could he lift it out. He was absolutely delighted, I don’t think I have ever bought him a present he has thought so much of.
We didn’t know the sex of the geese but decided that Boris was probably a gander and the other was more slender and lady-like that it was a goose. Boris’s name just suggested itself, as they do, as he a real bruiser, mostly daft as a brush, but more of that later, Betsy’s name took a bit more thought.
We cleared one of the small lean-to’s, put on a door and made it fox-proof so that we could shut them in at night. All went well for some time until Spring sprung and Boris got amorous. Hubby went to let them out in the morning to find Boris pinning Betsy to the corner, in any other context it would have been called rape! After this Betsy wasn’t going anywhere near that shed! You could herd them round there, throw their favourite bread in the doorway and any other trick, but no way was she going in there. So in the end they just sat outside in the entrance to the barn.
Months passed and all was well, nobody laid eggs, so we still didn’t know if they were a pair or two boys! Or just too old, Boris is obviously past his prime, as he’s bad on his feet, better since he lost weight, but not a mere gosling.
Just before Christmas 2011 hubby went to feed in the morning only to find Betsy had been got by the fox, I won’t describe it, sufficient to say it was definitely the fox. Boris was distraught, he kept walking up and down the garden honking for Betsy. Hubby was distraught – “why didn’t we pick her up and put her in the shed” and all the other things you say at times like this.
Trying to find a replacement pet goose just before Christmas is not something I recommend, but eventually I was put onto someone who had some which just plodded about their field.
He didn’t know which were which either, so I just picked two slim elegant looking birds and brought them home. Boris was delighted until he found they walked about a lot. When Boris and Betsy used to get let out, they would saunter to the feed bins of the peacocks and finish that off, loiter round the back door in case hubby was about and had any spare bread and then go and sit on the lawn and eat the grass within reach – hard day! The new girls dashed out, gobbled food, dashed up to the top of the garden and by the time Boris was half-way there they had passed him on the way back, you could practically hear him sigh! But he did lose weight. Both did turn out to be girls, one white called Lily and one with grey on her back, called Gracie. They both laid eggs last year, but none have ever been fertile, so we assume Boris is past it, but Gracie is sitting on a few.
Boris and Betsy had the run of the whole garden and meadow and ONLY ate grass, the two girls eat EVERYTHING as can be seen by the trimmed Azaleas on the photo, they are recovering from a severe goose trimming to the reachable side. Last year they were a picture and adorned my front step, this year they are hidden to recover. The heather bed is actually starting to look better, I hadn’t realised just how much they must have trimmed them before they were banished and so much more, till I put my foot down.
Lily and Gracie also discovered the pond! This is a raised wall pond, but they found you could get under the laurel and blunder your way in (see picture) fine for lithe young females to get out of – a fat elderly gander not so good. Hubby had to get the waders on and lift him out.
More tales of Boris and his girls another day or you will be here forever. Thanks for sticking with me and reading this far, scroll down for the pics! Captions underneath.

A distraught Boris after the loss of Betsy

Bathtime for all three

Boris and one of the girls discover the pond.

The trimmed azaleas, this one’s not too bad, it was at the back and a bit out of reach

These got the full treatment of goose trimming!

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Great story! Lovely looking geese!

3 Jun, 2013


I am amazed how you know the difference. Thanks for
a 'wildlife' blog.

4 Jun, 2013


Enjoyed the story of Boris and Betsy. Poor Betsy, and poor Boris, but he's got his 2 new girls now. Lily and Gracie sound like they may be a handful!

4 Jun, 2013


I am so pleased I found you Honeysuckle ! I just loved your blog. So sad about Betsy! My husband would be so envious as he always wanted geese. Before I met him , he went to a country auction ( not for geese ) to just look for a bargain and ended up coming home with 4 goslings which he fell in love with. As they got older the geese were like guard dogs and wouldn't let anyone in the garden, which wasn't huge, by the way . The poor postman couldn't get anywhere near, so, with much soul searching , he took them to the local park where they remained.

4 Mar, 2018

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