Dear Giovanni


“Dear Giovanni wouldn’t eat a bird.”

“He wouldn’t eat a bird?”

“No, haven’t you heard?

Lovely Giovanni wouldn’t eat a bird,

Because he loves them dearly.”


“Dear Giovanni wouldn’t cook a bird.

He wouldn’t cook a bird

In his restaurant, take my word!

Kind-hearted Giovanni, beloved restauranteur,

Wouldn’t cook a bird, no sir!”


“Giovanni has a motto,

I don’t know if you’ve heard it,

He says ‘Don’t hurt friends,

Or friends of friends,

Because none of them deserve it.'”


I had fun painting this cityscape and the name for the restaurant, Giovanni’s, just popped into my head.  Then, because I wanted to make a post in keeping with this week’s theme – birds – I wrote a quirky poem to go with it.  Then I thought – wouldn’t it be great if there really was a vegan restaurant called Giovanni’s?  So I googled and, guess what – there is!  What are the chances???

Giovanni's Pizza Grill, Rock City Rd and Tinker St Woodstock, NY 12498 United States

Giovanni’s Pizza Grill, 100% Vegan Organic Restaurant, Rock City Rd and Tinker St, Woodstock, NY 12498, United States

The Margherita

The Margherita

The Benedetta

The Benedetta

Poppy’s Potato Croquettes

Poppy’s Potato Croquettes

"meatballs" (made with whole grains and seeds) covered in a flavourful tomato sauce with onions

“meatballs” (made with whole grains and seeds) covered in a flavourful tomato sauce with onions

Sausage with peppers and onions

Sausage with peppers and onions

Fantastic tantalising pictures pinched from The V Word.

Click here to read the full restaurant review.  Ooh, I wish I lived near Woodstock right now 😉

Thanks Rhea 🙂


Since posting this, Rhea has been in touch (see comments below) and she, in turn, told Giovanni who also dropped us a line (see comments again).  Anyway, I thought you might be interested in Giovanni’s fascinating story about how he became a vegan chef  which is revealed in his interview with Green Door Magazine, so click here

“Pay, I say pay attention boy!”

Hey boy!  Pay attention to me when I'm talkin' to ya!

Hey boy! Pay attention to me when I’m talkin’ to ya!

What, I say what's the big idea?  Don't stand there gawkin' woman!

What, I say what’s the big idea? Don’t stand there gawkin’ sister!

Nice girl, but more mixed up than a feather in a whirlwind!

Nice girl, but more mixed up than a feather in a whirlwind!

Pay attention to me boy!  I'm not just talkin' to hear my head roar!  Get down, I say get down to Raystede and support the good work they're doin'!  Any of this sinkin' in???

Pay attention to me boy! I’m not just talkin’ to hear my head roar! Get down, I say get down to Raystede and support the good work they’re doin’! Any of this sinkin’ in???

Raystede: Giving animals a better life.

I like birds

It’s time you met the beautiful birds of Raystede Centre for Animal Welfare!  Raystede rescues and re-homes chickens.  They have a lovely big garden to live in filled with places to play and have fun or rest and relax.  As well as chickens they have two magnificent turkeys who inspire awe wherever they go.


What are you looking at?Photo8347Come closer. I want to see what it tastes like.


Maybe you could take a picture of me looking to the right? I think my left side is my better side. What do you think? Don’t  I have beautiful eyes?


If you just come a little bit closer… that’s great.


Are you still here? I thought you’d be gone by now.

Friday April 11th

Today, on National Pet Day, I would like to introduce the newest member of our family:  Carly

Carly on the cold radiator

Carly used to live in a small cage by herself.  Her “owner” had had to go into a dementia care home and for Carly, who went with her, this meant being left alone in a small cage in a bedroom all day every day.  She was never allowed out of the cage and never had been.

Finally the lady was persuaded to allow Carly to find a new home, and Birdline of Parrot Rescue was called.  It was hoped that she would soon be in the company of other birds like her and would live a more meaningful, if still captive, life.

Sadly many more weeks past and Carly was still in her dull, solitary prison.  The bird rescue volunteers were so inundated with needy birds (100 a week coming into their care) that they had been unable to find room for Carly.

So she came to live with us.

When we opened the cage she remained inside it for two more days, nervously peeping through the open door occasionally.  But the next day she emerged.  She swooped and soared the length and breadth of the room.  A bit uncoordinated at first, well, she’d never done this before, but she was trying out her wings; finding out what she was capable of.  It was wonderful.  I assumed she would go back to her cage when she wanted something to eat or drink and intended to leave it permanently open so that she could come and go as she pleased.  But she has never been back in.  She went a whole day without eating and drinking rather than go back into that cage!  And who could blame her?

So I put food and drink on top of the bookcase for her.  When we put away the cage she relaxed, noticeably.  She sings along with music played for her, be it birdsong or classical music, TV theme music or sounds from nature.  She is still nervous of us but getting more comfortable I think, especially as she can perch so high out of everyone’s reach and keep an eye on us all 🙂

Usually, when we all go to bed at night, she has the living room to herself and flies around a little more before settling in a warm spot on the wireless router until morning.  But last night, 11 days after arriving here, she demonstrated how skilled she’s become at flying when she glided at an angle through the slightly open doorway of our bedroom and slept on a picture frame by our bed.  She clearly didn’t want to be left alone all night, and I guess she quite likes us 🙂

Carly in the bedroom

by the screen

art lover

perch by the window


Carly on the bookshelf

Carly in the kitchen

Birds don’t belong in cages.

The inspiration behind Clarence and Luca, Part 2

Libby and Louie, rescued chickens

Libby and Louie

The other story from the blog of Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary which inspired Clarence and Luca’s story is that of Libby and Louie.  You might wonder why, because Libby and Louie are chickens not turkeys.  And Libby and Louie are devoted partners, not siblings.  But the story of their devotion to each other, beautifully articulated by Joanna Lucas again, is the perfect illustration of the love felt between two individuals, whatever their species, the reliance they have on each other and the place they fill in each other’s hearts which cannot be filled by anyone else.

To all those who have said that animals live by instinct alone; that they don’t think and feel as we do; that they don’t have relationships like we do, I say read Libby and Louie’s story and then think again:

Libby’s thoughts were silent. Silence was her nature, her disposition, her remedy, her talent, her power, her gift, and her pleasure. She looked at the world in soundless wonder – her thoughts, streaming and darting, swelling and swarming in the dark pools of her eyes – and filled it with the hush of her mind.

Libby at Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary


In the blush of her first weeks at the sanctuary, when everything astonished her – the open sky, the endless fields, the scent of rain, the feel of straw underfoot – we thought we heard her voice a few times: small, joyful cries coming out of nowhere, seemingly formed out of thin air, the musical friction of invisible particles, not the product of straining, vibrating, trembling vocal chords, but a sound of pure joy coming from the heart of life itself. But, after she paired up with Louie and became his sole partner, Libby turned so completely quiet, that we began to wonder if the voice we had heard in the beginning was truly hers.

Louie at Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary


Louie’s delight in the sound and functioning of his own magnificent voice, his pleasure in putting sound faces on everything – their finds and failures, their contentments and complaints, their yearnings and fears, their joys and hopes, the major, minor or minute events of their daily lives together – gave Libby the improbable ability of being heard without making a sound. For the first time in her life, she could enjoy the bliss of silence and the full power of voice at the same time. Her thoughts, her needs, her feelings, her pleasures and displeasures, were all there – perfectly voiced, perfectly formed, perfectly delivered in Louie’s utterings – each experience, captured in the jewel of a flawlessly pitched note. And in these notes, you could hear the developing musical portrait of Libby’s inner happenings.

There was the sighed coo for Libby’s request to slide under his wing, the raspy hiss for her alarm at OJ, the “killer” cat’s approach, the purred hum for her pleasure in dustbathing, the bubbling trill for her enjoyment in eating pumpkin seeds straight out of the pumpkin’s cool core on a summer day, the grinding creak for her tiredness, the rusty grumble for her achy joints. 

Libby and Louie, rescued chickens at Peaceful Prairies Sanctuary

Libby and Louie roaming

There was the growing vocabulary of songs used to voice their shared moments of delight – the lucky find of the treasure trove hidden in a compost pile, discovered by Libby and dug out with Louie’s help to reveal a feast of riches to taste, eat, explore, investigate or play with; or the gift of walking side by side into the morning sun and greeting a new day together; or the adventure of sneaking into the pig barn and chasing the flies that landed on the backs of the slumbering giants. 

Occasionally, there were the soundbursts for their shared moments of displeasure, hurt, sadness, fear, or downright panic, such as the time when Libby got accidentally locked in a barn that was being cleaned and Louie, distressed at the sudden separation, paced frantically up and down the narrow path on the other side of the closed door, crowing his alarm, crying his pleas, clucking his commands, flapping his wings, showering us with a spray of fervid whistles, following us around, then running back to the barn door, clacking at it, knocking on it, then running back to us, whirring his wings, stomping his feet, tapping the ground with his beak, staring intently, and generally communicating Libby’s predicament in every “language” available to him: sound, movement, gaze, color, and certainly scent too.

But, for all of their panache, Louie’s most spectacular acts of voice were not his magnificently crafted and projected vocal announcements but his quiet acts of allegiance, his tacit acts of devotion, his daily acts of restraint. The things he did not do.

Libby and Louie - rescued chickens at Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary

Libby and Louie’s roost

There was the silent song of giving up his treasured roost in the rafters, his nest in the sky where he had bunked every night of his years before Libby, the space where he felt safest surrendering to sleep, strongest entering the night. Happiest. The spot closest to the clouds. His personal Olympus. But, in her lameness, Libby couldn’t join him there. She managed to climb next to him a few times but, with only one foot to grip the perch, [she had lost her right foot to the wire floor of the “cage-free” egg farm from which she was rescued] she kept losing her balance and fell to the ground and, after a while, she stopped trying and just stayed there, grounded, anchored to the earth. So Louie quietly descended from his blue yonder and settled next to her in her terrestrial roost – a long, narrow tent created by a leaning plywood board – and he slept near the entrance, exposing himself to the intrusions of curious goats, wandering cats and restless geese, the better to protect Libby from them.

There was the soundless song of limiting the sport of his summer days to fewer and fewer hours when the stiffness in Libby’s stump increased with age, and the effort of following Louie in the fields, hobbling and wobbling behind him, turned from tiring to exhausting in fewer and fewer steps, and she started to retire to their nest earlier and earlier in the day. At first, she was able to make it till 6 in the evening, but then 6 became 5, and 5 became 4, and then it was barely 3 in the glorious middle of a summer day when she felt too weary to go on. The day was still in its full splendor, there was still so much more of its gift to explore and experience, and there was still so much energy and curiosity left in Louie to explore with, but Libby was tired, and she had to go to her tent under the plywood plank, and rest her aching joints. And Louie followed. With Libby gone from the dazzling heart of the summer day, the night came early for both of them. 

Then there was the tacit song of forfeiting his foraging expeditions and his place in the larger sanctuary community only to be with her. When Libby’s advancing age, added to the constant burden of her lameness, forced her to not only shorten her travels with Louie, but end them altogether, and when her increased frailness forced her to seek a more controlled environment than their plywood tent in the barn, she retired to the small, quiet refuge of the House. And Louie followed her there, too, even though he still enjoyed the wide open spaces, the wilder outdoors, the hustle and bustle of bunking in the barn. But Libby needed the extra comfort of the smaller, warmer, more predictable space inside the House and, even though Louie did not, he followed her anyway. And, when she started to spend more and more time indoors, curtailing her already brief outings, Louie did too. 

And there they were. Just the two of them in the world. A monogamous couple in a species where monogamy is the exception. Determined to stay together even though their union created more problems than it solved, increased their burdens more than it eased them, and thwarted their instincts more than it fulfilled them. 

Libby and Louie together at Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary

Libby and Louie together

It would have been easier and more “natural” for Louie to be in charge of a group of hens, like all the other roosters, but he ignored everyone except Libby. He paid no attention to the fluffy gray hen, the fiery blonde hen, the dreamy red hen, the sweet black hen dawdling in her downy pantaloons, or any of the 100 snow-white hens who, to our dim perceptions, looked exactly like Libby. Louie, the most resplendently bedecked and befeathered rooster of the sanctuary, remained devoted only to Libby – scrawny body, scraggly feathers, missing foot, hobbled gait and all. It’s true that, with our dull senses, we couldn’t grasp a fraction of what he saw in her because we can’t see, smell, hear, touch, taste, sense a scintilla of the sights, scents, sounds, textures, and tastes he does. But, even if we could see Libby in all her glory, it would still be clear that it wasn’t her physical attributes that enraptured Louie. If he sought her as his one and only companion, if he protected that union from all intrusions, it wasn’t because of her physique but because of her presence.

It would have been easier for Libby too – so vulnerable in her stunted, lame body – to join an existing chicken family and enjoy the added comfort, cover and protection of a larger group, but she never did. She stayed with Louie, and followed him on his daily treks in the open fields, limping and gimping behind him, exhausting herself only to be near him.

What bonded them was not about practical necessities or instinctual urges – if anything, it thwarted both. Their union was about something else, a rich inner abundance that seemed to flourish in each other’s presence, and that Libby nurtured in her silence and that Louie voiced, sang out loud, celebrated, noted, catalogued, documented, expressed, praised every day of their 1,800 days together. 

Except today. Today, it was Libby who “spoke” for both of them. And, this time, there was no doubt whose voice it was, or what it was saying, because it not only sounded off, it split open the sky, punctured the clouds, issued forth with such gripping force and immediacy that it stopped you dead in your tracks. It was a sound of such pure sorrow and longing, hanging there all alone, in stark and immaculate solitude, high above the din of sanctuary life, like the heart-piercing cry of an albatross. She had started to cluck barely audibly at dawn, when Louie failed to get up and lingered listlessly in their nest. She continued her plaintive murmur into the afternoon, when Louie became too weak to hold his head up and collapsed in a heap of limp feathers. And then, when we scooped him up and quarantined him into a separate room for treatment, her soft lament turned to wrenching wail.

The next morning, she was still sounding out her plea, her love, her desperation as she feverishly searched every open room in the house, then wandered out into the small front yard, then the larger back yard, and the small barns behind it. Soon, she left the house and the fenced yard and took her search to the open fields, cooing, calling, crying like a strange sky creature, using her voice as a beacon, it seemed, a sound trail for Louie to follow back to safety, and roaming farther than she had in months, stumbling and staggering on a foot and a stump, the light in her being dimming with every solitary minute, her eyes widened as if struggling to see in dark, her feathers, frayed at the edges, as though singed by the flames of an invisible fire, their sooted ends sticking out like thorns straight from the wound of her soul, her whole being looking tattered and disoriented, as if lost in a suddenly foreign world.

rescued chicken, Libby, at Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary

Libby alone

And, for three excruciating days, we didn’t dare hope she’d ever find him alive again. Louie was very weak, hanging to life by a thread that seemed thinner and thinner with each passing hour. He didn’t respond to the treatment we were advised to give him and, after three days of failed attempts, we were beginning to accept that there was nothing more we could do except to keep him comfortable, hydrated and quiet until the end. 

But we underestimated both his strength and her determination. Libby did find her soul mate again. We don’t know how she managed to get into the locked rehab room, but she did. We were planning to reunite them later that day – going against the Veterinarian’s advice, as we sometimes do out of mercy for the animals – because it had become clear to us that Louie’s ailment was not contagious, it was “just” a bad fit of old age. But Libby beat us to it. She found her way into his room, only she knows how, and Louie found his way back to life too, seemingly at the same moment. There he was, looking up for the first time in days, life flaring in his eyes again, and there she was, huddled next to him, quietly sharing his hospital crate. And there they still are, Louie, slowly recovering, and Libby, blissfully silent again. She hasn’t moved since. She won’t leave his side now that she’s found him again, she refuses to even look away from him, as if he might disappear in one blink of her eye, as if the force of her gaze alone can keep him anchored in life.

They are both quiet now – Louie, exhausted from his ailment, regaining his strength, Libby, exhausted from her dark journey, gazing steadily at him. Both, brimming, basking in the rich silence that is so alive with voice and flowing conversation, that it glows between them like a strange treasure. And it shines.

Libby and Louie, rescued chickens

Libby and Louie

The inspiration behind Clarence and Luca, Part 1

These are the lives which inspired the characters of Clarence and Luca.

First, Melvin.

I was fortunate in my research to come across the blog of Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary which contains some extremely moving accounts of the lives of their residents.  The writing is so evocative, and so moving that to paraphrase it would not do it justice so the story below is directly quoted, copied and pasted, from a post by Joanna Lucas at

Melvin, rescued turkey at Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary

Melvin, rescued turkey at Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary

He was rescued from a local flesh farm and brought to Peaceful Prairie with his five brothers when they were all very young, barely four months old, still soft in their feathers and tender in their voices – 6 newborn planets wobbling in their axes, orbiting the grasslands and the ferns with a buoyancy in their round, befeathered selves that almost felt like laughter – and, for a brief time after their arrival at the sanctuary, that first Spring, Summer and Fall of freedom, they were grounded so firmly in the hope of things, the wings of things, the rapture of things, the giddy promise of things, the endless summer of things, that they seemed inextinguishable – 6 new suns, shining the warmth of their attention towards everything in their world with such constancy, such enthusiasm, such intensity, that it felt like love. 

Melvin and his brothers enjoying their freedom at Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary

Melvin and his brothers enjoying their freedom at Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary

Everything they could see, smell, touch, taste, hear was embraced as nothing less than an earthly delight: the salty-mossy-fruity-fenny-bitter-acrid-sweet scents of grasses, the hedgerows, and the grasslands, and the bogs, the ravishing rain, the mud-luscious puddles, the iridescent hues of feathers and of snow, the sap-oozing milkweeds, the languidly stretched fields, the knotted thickets of bramble, the sweet, sapid, scintillating sights, scents, sounds of life all around them, the very dirt under their feet, and everyone walking on it. But almost as soon as they entered this welcoming world, it started to ebb away from them. Imperceptibly at first, but then faster and faster, harder and harder, punishing them where it had rewarded, pummeling them where it had caressed.

As Melvin, George, Stanley, Alfred, Elmer and Archie became progressively crippled, their genetically manipulated bodies growing around them like tumors, engulfing them in their grip, crushing themselves under their own weight, suffocating, choking, destroying themselves in the name of our “turkey dinners”, their ability to participate in life diminished and, with it, so did their openness to its gifts. Their daily cavalcades into the open fields became slower and slower, shorter and shorter, fewer and fewer, and then, eventually, not at all: George, Stanley, Alfred, Elmer and Archie died one by one, and, with each of them, a whole world of consciousness, memories, yearnings, everything each of them knew and remembered ceased to exist with him, the face of each, the scent of his body, his enthusiasm, his intelligence was gone with him.

After each loss, Melvin’s own light dimmed, as if disconnected from a power source. And, as the burden of sorrows, ailments and age accumulated, it took him longer and longer to return to bold, brilliant, demanding life.

But he always did. He lifted himself from sadnesses that grew deeper and deeper with each new loss, and he embarked again on his long, burning journeys all the way from his barn to the trailer, where the visitors were, and resumed the bruising, exhilarating toil of following them around, wheezing and coughing, his lungs and heart barely keeping up with his giant body, his legs deformed under its weight. He dragged himself back to the world he loved – improbable and sublime, like a house on legs, like a ship on dry sand – and savored each of its dwindling gifts: straw-scented shade, sweet grass and cracked corn, Shylo’s friendship, Chris’ voice, Michele’s presence, visitors he had charmed, and visitors he had yet to enchant. And he loved life with all her faults, and forgave her many trespasses.

Then, one day, he did not. When Shylo, his last remaining friend, died he isolated himself in the back of the barn and refused to leave. Morning after morning, the gates would fling open and everyone would rush out to greet the day, but Melvin did not. He remained rooted in the same dark spot and refused to leave. He did not move, he did not turn, he did not look away from the wall. 

Day after day, we’d find him in the same secluded nook, alone, listless, expecting nothing, demanding nothing, taking everything without joy, interest or protest, as though it was all happening to someone else. And nothing, not the promise of treats, nor the presence of visitors, nor any of the things he had so relished, could make him want to leave his self-imposed exile. If we hadn’t physically carried him outside, he would have remained in exactly the same spot, staring at the wall in front of him from morning till night, his back turned to the world he had so loved.

He shut the world out with such finality that he seemed more crushingly, more irrevocably gone than Shylo himself. That mysterious something that had resurrected him before, that obscure and irrepressible something that had restored his great broken heart so many times before, seemed irretrievable now. His body slumped, his eyes drained of light, his spirit wilted. He stopped preening, he stopped communicating, he stopped showering the world with his rapt attention, he stood there silent and still, anchored in place by a sort of strange devotion, as if waiting for something, an end or a return. him inside the house. And that’s where he still is today, sharing his shriveled world with the shut-ins, the frail, the old, the ill, the crippled who are there for a while or for the rest of their lives. Not much has changed. Despite the constant care and attention, he is still withdrawn, still solitary, still uncommunicative, still reluctant to move.

Except on Sundays. 

On Sundays, he stirs before everyone else, aflutter with his old excitement, anticipating something good, and already singing to this good thing, strutting for it, trilling turkey tunes to it – a big, crippled bird, dancing for joy when he can barely walk, trumpeting for joy when he can barely breathe. Acting as if the lost world of green fields, endless summers, thriving tribe of turkey toms was there again, swaggering about the room with laughter about him, displaying his plumage in a magnificent show of glistening feathers, hoisting his aching body across the room, dragging himself on swollen joints, covering the 20 long, painful steps from the kitchen to the front door, waiting, stirring, shimmering, shuffling his feet, atwitter with expectation, until he finally hears the sound he’s been waiting for: Ruth’s car pulling into the driveway.

Then he kicks the door with his left foot and demands something he vehemently rejects the rest of the time: to go out. We open the door and he swaggers out in the yard in full parade gear, his wattle quickened scarlet, his tail fanned out like a triumphal chariot wheel, his neck arched like a rainbow, his wings stretched all the way to the ground and held taut with robust, muscular grace. Ruth is here! And he acts as though the miraculous, spellbinding, rapturous days of his youth are back again, alive and present with the rich, red pulse of life – not remembered like a story, but felt, known, believed like a scent, like bread baking. Ruth is here! And he follows her around, quivering and shaking on gouty legs, and issuing forth a most astonishing array of flowing sounds punctuated by percussive feather pops in the tips of his wings, his burdened heart all aglow, his lungs filled not with mere oxygen but with something else, something imperious, something invincible, a force, not a substance – a shot of livingness straight into the throbbing heart with all its folly, wisdom, ache and yearning to be nothing but loved. 

By evening, Ruth has come and gone for another week and Melvin is still abuzz, ablaze, abloom with the swarm of the day, and relives it well into the night. Of all the people he sees every day, of all the souls he shares the house with, of all the volunteers gracing the sanctuary every week, only Ruth sweetens his heart till it remembers life’s most beautiful song – is! is! is!

Melvin and Ruth at Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary

Melvin and Ruth at Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary

Thank you to all who work at and support Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary and to Joanna Lucas for her amazing eloquence.

If you haven’t considered giving up meat before, please consider it now in the light of the knowledge that the individuals slaughtered for your plate feel and love as you do.


rescued goose

Written by Cheryl Bernstein (Gauteng, South Africa)

It was a hot summer Sunday and my husband and I decided to take our two grandchildren with their bicycles for a ride around our local lake.  Of course, a visit to the lake wouldn’t be the same without taking brown bread and feeding the multitude of ducks and geese that inhabit the lake and its island. There are probably around 200 geese and ducks at the lake. They are all hungry, surviving only on the grass that surrounds the lake.

My two grandchildren, armed with their packets of bread, began feeding the geese and were soon overwhelmed as the birds left the water and surrounded them, squaking and grabbing bread out their hands. Then, in the midst of all the noise, feathers, ducks and geese swimming about, swam a tiny, yellow gosling.

He could not have been more than two days old. He was desperate for something to eat and tried to grab a crumb or two of bread from the water, but the adult geese would have none of it. They pecked his tiny head and some even tried to push his head underwater. He tried to get away and climbed out onto a rock. I walked down to the water’s edge and grabbed him. Immediately, he put his tired little head onto my shoulder and closed his baby eyes. He was exhausted.  I felt his crop and it was empty. His tiny body was just skin, bone and fluffy down. This baby was starving.

My husband, the children and I decided to walk around the lake and look for other families of geese who had goslings to which this baby may belong. We walked and searched in the reeds for about an hour, eventually realizing this baby was abandoned and alone. We decided to take him home and raise him.  I made a gruel of finely grated carrots, carrot tops, celery tops, mashed duck pellets, crushed fresh corn and water, but the gosling didn’t recognize this as food and would only eat tiny crumbs of bread. This isn’t a balanced diet for a water bird.

I had done some years of bird rehabilitation in the past and I knew how to tube feed a bird, so I found the bird hand rearing mixture and tubed him. I then put him in a basket with a hot pad, and he fell asleep, cuddled on top of a fluffy toy I had given him for comfort.

The days passed in a blur of feeding, talking to and raising Goose. I sat with him for hours talking to him and pointing out juicy patches of grass to him. Goose grew big and strong, started eating on his own and his fluffy down was soon replaced with magnificent white feathers. His voice grew from a squeak to a squak and I watched with pride, as he developed into a beautiful bird. The intention was always to release him back onto the lake.

He had imprinted on me and would not let me out of his sight. When I was doing chores in the house, there was Goose — often lying down on the carpet and falling asleep until I was finished.

He followed me into the bathroom and when I showered he showered too with the little droplets of water that landed on his feathers.  He discovered TV and watched with his head to the side. When he got bored, he waddled outside to the pond where he declared his total ownership of the water and would not allow the other ducks to use it. He was very grumpy when he couldn’t get into the house and be with me, and would squak loudly and jabber in a grumpy goose voice till I came out again.

He loved his food and when I brought out his dish, he ran up and down the garden, wings out, screaming with delight. He particularly loved watermelon, and he got a quarter every day. At night, he would sleep outside against my glass bedroom door, chipping to me all night, just letting me know he was there. But come morning he would tap at the glass to be let in.

Decision day came about Goose’s future. I visited the lake again and was really sad to see hardly any geese or ducks on the lake. They had almost all been culled. There was a sinking pit in my stomach knowing that Goose could have been killed in that cull too. Releasing him back onto the lake would spell certain death for him in many ways, mainly being that he would likely be caught up in the next year’s cull. Besides, he was used to being fed a good diet regularly, and didn’t live mainly off grass. He wouldn’t be able to find food for himself.

He was a happy bird, strong and lively, and had the run of a very big garden and pond. But something was missing from his life – and that was companionship. So one night my husband brought home a big cardboard box and inside was the answer to our prayers. A big, beautiful grey female goose. At first Goose showed no interest, nipping her and chasing her. But she was persistent and followed him everywhere, and she eventually won him over with her charm.

Today, Goose is a happy and healthy goose, king of the garden and his duck herd which consists of his lady goose and two ducks,  who follow him around. He knows his feeding times and calls me loudly if I am a minute late with his food. He still comes into the house and plods after me, he sleeps as near as he can to me at night, on the step of my glass bedroom door, and chirps to me. He is probably bigger than most geese due to a balanced diet and regular food.

I visited the lake again on the weekend, and there are hardly any geese on the lake. As much as I would have liked to see Goose on a lake with his own kind, he is loved and cared for in my garden — and much more than that, he is safe.

He will live out a long and fulfilled life, with no threat to his life, ever.

rescued goose

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How time flies

I was just browsing other people’s blogs when I came across this post, titled ‘Napping on a shoulder under a collar’ on Rethinking Life.  It reminded me of the little house marten that my daughter rescued ten years ago because this bird also used to take a nap on her shoulder under her collar.  He/she was a pretty little thing who touched our lives briefly and then flew away.  Here’s a couple of pics of Eve (my daughter) with Minnie (her house marten friend):

Eve with Minnie 2003

Eve with Minnie August 2003

Eve and Minnie getting some fresh air.  August 2003

Eve and Minnie getting some fresh air. August 2003