Many bad things are said about goose farming, and I'm afraid that some are even true. Yes, they do raise some of them in boxes and force feed them with funnels and tubes. They are factory-farming and indeed, they receive their reward on Earth, in the form of Euros and contracts with gourmet canneries.
But, far above the common, or factory-raised goose, are the famed Natural Geese of Perigord
A farm that deals in Natural Geese has all the elements to tempt a goose's appetite: oak trees to give acorns, fields to graze, sprouts and grain, tubs of mealworm
s and weevil
s and even earthworm
s, still and running water ponds for watercress, pond shrimp
s, and so on. They live blissful, but short lives, expiring just before their mal du foie finishes them for good. They're fed four to six times a day, plus treats and snacks, and roam freely on their few hectares of land, cherished for the hepatic miracle that turns a relatively small and pleasantly flavored bit of innards into a kilo
of pure gastronomic bliss. These farmers are indeed compassionate carnivores, and should be rewarded here as they will be in Heaven.
Goose society is quite prim and proper: one does of course, mate for life, barring widowhood and other accidents, and laying hens are quite protective of their goslings. While walking down a trail, even adult geese often walk in an equally spaced single file. Families will walk together, acknowledging each other with honks and nods, quite as as a bourgeois
family of the Belle Epoch might be...
"Aren't they cunning...say hello to the other goslings, children."
"Beep. Beep. Beep."
"I hear it's mealworms for supper, this evening."
"Now, step lively, it's nearly Afternoon Tea..."
Except for the magic nights when the Travelers come. Out of the sky, from the South in the Spring, and the North in the Fall, wild geese come to fill themselves with the dainties spread below. Normally, it would be considered a nuisance, since the wild geese don't stick around long enough to be harvested. They're tough and scrawny, and their meat is rubbery, and their feathers are a grim rusty grey. But they do have something valuable to contribute...their genes, the ones that promote gorging in advance of the Long Flight, where every part of the body is taxed to its utmost. Only by keeping such a goose in a small domain, can one expect the fine foie gras of goosedom.
The nights of the Full Moon in March and September, the ganders and goslings are separated from the laying hens, who are turned out into the yards.
It's Ladies' Night!
What was once a barnyard is transformed into a singles' bar of the mid-1970's, with ferns and girl drinks, and a singer/songwriter singing of midnight at the oasis in the year of the Cat...
The hens nibble hors d'oeuvres and preen. A few early arrivals arouse spikes of general attention. Everyone makes polite conversation, asking about the flight, talking about the weather. The farmer puts out more food onto the buffet and waits.
Soon a small flock of young ganders touch down, and then, a larger one. They're famished, and immediately stuff themselves at the buffet. This makes the hens suddenly realize they're hungry too, so they go in after them. Everyone starts getting friendly.
"Mm. I'm Moroccan, baby...Ever do grey?"
"I don't really...you know what they say...mated for life..."
"Ever think how much that sounds like a prison sentence?"
"Hey! They've opened the dance floor!"
Back in the barn, the ganders and the goslings watch videos. First there are the Princess videos for the hatchlings. "I'm gonna grow up to be a swan just like Odette, and make that boring Prince into a swan, too..." Yearling geese look bored. "I wish I could just, like, lay an egg. Then they'd have to let me out."
Ganders play pool and cards. They smoke cigars, eat onions raw and swear and fart to their heart's content. Round about eleven, they eat hot sandwiches. Sometimes they watch sports, or videos with lots of sex and/or violence, and hold beery arguments as to whether Stallone is better than Schwarzenegger. Some joker always brings a porno. ("Loosey Goosies!" "Hot Cloacas!" "Vice on the Varm!") Some years they actually watch it.
The yearling ganders don't do much of anything at all, except squawk and play games and tell dirty jokes. Then they fall asleep after an overdose of junk food.
On the dance floor, things are at a climax. Hens are daring each other into inventive new heights of outrageous flirtation. Ganders hotly cheer them on.
"Strut that stuff!"
"Shake your tail feather!"
"I need you NOW, Gladys!" She's giggling, as she gets led off the dance floor, by two Grey Ganders, into the bushes.
The music goes into a slow jam. It's Barry White time, and couples are dancing, close and slow...No, it's just the vocals, moaning the song of love...two by two, they leave the dance floor.
The lights turn off...one by one...
If there is further music, it's deeply ambient. There are no lights, save the setting Moon and the wheeling stars, as a lone couple paddles soundlessly in the pond...
At daybreak, the Travelers get up, take one last nibble, and leave, the hens still with their heads under their wings, asleep.
"Hey, Mom!" The yearlings honk.
"Honey, time to wake up! Breakfast!" The ganders nudge the hens awake.
"Oh, yeah, breakfast." One hen moans.
"I have such a headache." Another replies.
" My coolie hurts. I had this dream...at least I hope it was a dream...I was laying an ostrich egg."
By mid-afternoon, everything's back to normal.
Families walk together in single file, noshing and socializing. A day or two later, all the hens lay a new clutch of eggs, setting the yearlings out into the world. Soon the eggs hatch...
The goslings are grey and white, or sometimes white with grey feathers, and the hens don't know where that came from. Or rather, they have an idea, but no one wants to point fingers...
"Well, you always said you were grey on your grandmother's side...."
"Sometimes, I think I might have a touch of grey myself. But that must have been long ago."
A certain amount of geese become widows, soon after...but that's another story....