A Gosling Named Titania

Aug 5, 2022 | Heath farm | 4 comments

January can be dangerous for the homesteader, especially for the dreamers who imagine what could be when faced with the blank canvas of a fresh snowfall. Some dream big, planning earthworks for a new pond, acres of food forest, a whole herd of livestock. I dream those sorts of things. But some dream small, maybe getting a breeding pair of rabbits, adding a couple new chickens to a modest backyard flock, or planting a pretty new rose in the perfect spot. I dream those sorts of things too.

The unexpected gosling dream certainly seemed small back in January, when the world was whitewashed and full of possiblities. A teeny, tiny, fluffy gosling ordered for a future Spring delivery date was not going to be revolutionary. That was certainly what I told myself on a particulary wintery day as homesteading thoughts drifted with the falling snow and gently landed in the pockets of my mind.

“Titania is the perfect goose name. I wonder if anyone has ever named their goose that?”

The snowflake of a thought landed and, if it had been March, the thought would have melted away into nothing as the sun warmed the earth, exposing all the work that needed to be done, but since it was January, more gosling thoughts accumulated. A couple weeks passed and I continued to think about Titania.

Geese had never been part of the plan. But to be fair there wasn’t really A Plan per se. Four years ago, three ducks for tick control had been the extent of The Plan. The eight chickens hadn’t been in the plan. The accidental drake hadn’t been in the plan. The resulting laying ducks and meat drakes hadn’t been in the plan. The two dairy goats that came with their meat wethers hadn’t been part of the plan. The billy goat hadn’t been in the plan. In every instance, one thing had naturally led to another and our miniscule homestead had grown gradually right along with our skills and abilities.

I gradually started reading up on geese and their uses on a small holding like ours. My basic starting knowledge was that geese were mean and loud. Bit by bit I formed a list of positive attributes. A goose could fill a niche in our current livestock. As a grazing animal, it wouldn’t compete with our ducks and chickens, but since our goats are browsers, the goose also wouldn’t compete with them. A goose could guard the duck flock, specifically by protecting ducklings from our numerous barncats. Oh! If the ducklings could be kept safe from the cats, perhaps a broody duck or chicken could hatch out the eggs for us instead of using an incubator and then a brooder with heat lamp set up! That would change up our current haphazard duck hatching attempts. Perhaps a goose would change our duck production enough that we could meet our poultry consumption entirely with homegrown free range duck within the year! Sweet mustache! We needed a goose. We needed Titania.

Maybe she would be a nice goose. Maybe she would be a quiet-ish goose. Let me dream.

I headed over to the Metzer Farm website and read through their geese options. We have always ordered our ducks from Metzer Farm and had good experience with the company. Having read about the temperment and profile of each breed that they offer, I narrowed down my choice to a Pilgrim goose. Scrolling down to the order section I was disheartened to see that I was not the only one who had been acting on the January dreams, all female Pilgrim geese were sold out for the season. Feeling my feathers slightly ruffled by this hiccup in the goose dream, I returned to the descriptions of each breed and read through again, trying to find the second best option when a small tab caught my eye “fancy goose package”.  The description read “The Fancy Goose Package includes goslings from our more rare breeds. There will be no White Chinese, Embden, toulouse, or African goslings in the Fancy Goose Package. If you order at least 9, we will have at least three breeds included. If you want them sexed in pairs, that can be done also. But the choice of breeds is completely ours. You cannot choose the breeds in the Fancy Goose Package.” Ah ha, perhaps I could take a chance on this option and end up with Titania the Pilgrim goose.

Now, a teeny, tiny, fluffy day-old gosling simply cannot be shipped alone. You really do need to order a minimum of two goslings in order to increase the chance of surviving the trip from California to New York. What a shame. Ah well, now I understand the origin of the wise saying “two fancy geese are better than one”. And did you know that you can pay the big bucks for a small order shipment OR you can simply add more ducklings to your order until you’ve passed out of the small order range and it will actually cost you less, or about the same? You could get two mystery fancy geese and a breeding pair of Duclair ducks and a straight run of 6 Muscovy for the same price as simply getting two geese.

Do you see how these things grow? One goose named Titania became ten new birds for our flock. I talked it through with my husband so that we were on the same page with the new plan. The Plan was now to have two separate duck flocks, each with a guardian goose. One goose would be with our laying ducks, the other goose would be with our Muscovy flock which would be our brooding and meat production. Muscovy are supposed to be better sitters which is why I chose to add them to the mix since part of The Plan now includes letting the ducks hatch and raise their own ducklings. 

Months passed, the snow melted, the post office called to let us know the sweet puffs of fluff had arrived. The family gathered round when I returned with the box full of cuteness. There is nothing in the world as cute as a day old duckling. Goslings are a close second. We carefully pulled the frightened creatures out and placed them in the brooder. I quickly looked for the leg band color that helps identify the breed and matched the geese bands to the chart. Our mystery geese turn out to be one a Brown Chinese and one Pilgrim!  The kids instantly named the Brown Chinese Gladwin and the name fit. I picked up the Pilgrim gosling and realized that she was not Titania. Her name was clearly Harriet. I had fallen for one of the classic homestead blunders – the most famous of which is “never count your chickens before they hatch” – but only slightly less well-known is this: “never name a gosling before you’ve met.”

Oh, and Metzer Farm sent an additional Muscovy, possbly surplus from the day’s hatching? Yes, January is dangerous for the homesteader who dreams. The thought of one gosling resulted in 2 geese, 9 new ducklings, a fancy duck plucker contraption, and a livestock guardian dog puppy. As you may have guessed, the duck plucker and puppy were not part of The Plan back in January, but those are things to share on a different day.

Hannah and her husband, Rev. Timm Heath, homestead on a property north of Owego, New York, while Rev. Heath serves Zion Lutheran Church in Owego.


  1. Mary Powell

    Ah Geese the beast you love to hate. We had Toulouse geese when my kids were young and gave some to my mom. Fast forward 20 years and I am living with her and that pond in front yard was empty, so we got some Pekin ducks but it was still empty. I got 4 Toulouse from a friend for free! Now we have tick pickers and a security system of the best type. Strangers are terrified of geese and it keeps the bad folks away and the good folks wait at the gate for us to open it for them. We had our goose hatch out 10 goslings and 5 made it to adulthood so our 4 became 9. Anyone want an all natural security system? LOL

  2. Carol

    Congratulations! Your creativity, dreaming,and talent overflow. I love the way you write and I’m thankful you do… I look forward to reading more. So fun!

  3. Mmekelley

    As a “dream only” homesteader, I loved reading about this progression! Welcome to the world, Harriet!

  4. Lynnel Lein

    Love so of this. Hope Harriet has been a joy!
    Aunt Lynnel



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