A few years ago, farm co-owner Geoffrey purchased a pair of Chinese geese from an Amish farmer. His wife Sally envisioned a tranquil life for them down by the pond (while anticipating the prospect of a Christmas goose), but we ended up putting them with the laying flock to try them out as guardians. This worked great at keeping away the ground predators – raccoons, opossums, even foxes. They were not so good at deterring eagles and hawks; more often than not, the large white geese could be seen cowering beneath the mobile coop with the rest of the chickens.
They were a big hit with visitors. Until they turned aggressive.
When we came along with a tour group, the geese would sound the alarm, as they are good at doing, and when we tried to get close to the coop, they would hiss and lower their heads menacingly. Sally and I took to carrying a walking stick on the tours, and would use it to gently herd the geese away so our guests could see the chickens and eggs in the nesting boxes up close, without worrying about getting nipped in the ankle. Come December, we harvested Sally’s goose, but our farm crew had grown quite fond of the more aggressive of the two, admiring his fierce nature, and wanted to keep him. We named him Chad, and installed him by the pond, where he faithfully guarded the cows, chickens, turkeys, and a pair of mallards as they rotated through.
Occasionally, Chad would escape the pond area (usually when the gate was left open), and I’d discover him posted at the farm store entrance, warding off customers. “Hello, Chad,” I’d say, as I picked him up. “I appreciate the thought, but your services are not needed here.” He was surprisingly docile once in my arms, and I would carry him back to his home by the pond.
Now when we brought tour groups around the farm, Chad would be waiting. As soon as he saw us coming down the lane, he would start honking and hurry over to march alongside us as we walked along the outside edge of the pond. People took photos and video clips of him, and my boys featured him in a couple of their own videos, complete with music and amusing commentary.
We started raising African geese to guard the laying flocks, as they were less aggressive than the Chinese geese. When the mobile coop was stationed by the pond, with its pair of young African geese, there was apparently an epic battle between Chad and one of the other geese – and Chad lost. He died doing what he was best at: Defending his territory.