This week is turning into a week of surprises. Take this blog post, for example.
I can’t believe it has been nearly a year since our last one. Well, actually, I can. Our activity level throughout the year, here, mimics the rise and fall of the tide on the Bear River and the annual rise and fall of the population on the Annapolis Basin. Starting in April, the activity begins, and it swells to a crescendo in August. Things begin to taper in October with a last burst of activity around the holidays. Then, we rest. It is the nature of running a seasonal business in an area that has a significant number of seasonal residents. Winter is our time to unwind, take stock, dream, recharge, and blog.
Our first surprise this week was a welcome mid-winter thaw. After an unusually cold start to the winter with many days not climbing above -15C (5F), warm rain and above-freezing temperatures have temporarily washed away all the snow. It’s been an opportunity to see how our bees and plants have fared during the uncommon chill. Happily, the bees are thriving. They even came out of their hives to do some house cleaning. Some of our tender plants also seem to have survived just fine under their blankets of snow. All very encouraging.
We got a second surprise yesterday when cleaning out our poultry house. Buried in a pile of wood shavings in the corner of the “goose wing”, we discovered our first goose egg! We weren’t expecting eggs from the geese until February, so this was a pleasant surprise. Our new Australorp hens all started laying this week, too. So, maybe there is something in the air. An early spring perhaps?
The biggest surprise came this morning, however. We looked out the kitchen window and saw our geese, Gwendolyn and Evelina in protracted amorous congress! Gwendolyn, apparently, is a gander! This is a welcome surprise indeed. Exactly one month ago, we lost what we thought was our only gander (Oscar) to coyotes. We had abandoned the idea of having free goslings in the spring. Hope is restored!
You may be wondering how we could be mistaken about the gender of our geese. Unlike chickens, male and female geese do not differ significantly in appearance, at least not to a human. Determining their gender (called vent sexing) is an undignified, hands-on activity, unpleasant for all concerned, that produces one of two results: male or inconclusive. Unless you’re an expert goose handler, it is pretty hard to be definite that you have a female on your hands. Our geese were vent sexed when we got them. We knew we had one immature male and two “inconclusives”. We chose to assume these two were female and over the months completely forgot that one or both might, indeed, be male… until today.
Now the question is whether or not to rename Gwendolyn something more traditionally male. Maybe Wendel? Or maybe we’ll just leave it. It doesn’t really matter what humans think.