We've been using geese to trim our grass and be our friends for a while now and absolutely love it!
Do You Dream of a Labour-Free Lawn Mower?
Do you dream of a lawn mower that would work by itself, run on free fuel and provide you with free fertilizer as it goes? What if I added that this lawn mower would cost you between 6–11 euros? How about a lawn mower that is ecologically sound—totally green?
I expect you would think you were dreaming if I said that the lawn mower would start off yellow, fluffy, cute as can be and, within a year, your green lawn mowers will be providing you with fresh eggs for breakfast? And if I added that at a pinch, you could roast this lawn mower for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, you would think I was stark staring mad, but take a look at our gorgeous grass cutters and think again. Sound like a good way to manage your grass?
In Limousin, France, we have large gardens, plenty of lawns, grassy drives, and orchards covered in grass. This is a lot of grass cutting and not easy to do with a sit-on lawn mower because of the trees. In spring and throughout the summer, it's a case of the constant gardener—by the time I reach the end, it's time to start cutting grass again at the beginning. I was wearing myself out pushing around a heavy, petrol-driven machine, so decided to call in some help.
Caring for Your Geese
It is relatively easy to look after your geese, but here are the basics:
- They need a nice, dry, and fox-proof shelter at night, enough grass and/or grain to eat, and enough water to immerse their heads—although it's much better if you can provide them with a lake.
- They are flock birds and do need company, so don't be tempted to keep one goose alone.
- Unlike hens, geese are a bit on the delicate side health-wise. So if you have a goose that is looking a bit peaky, don't hesitate to take it to the vet straight away.
- That said, the geese will be happy outside in all weathers. They bask in the sunshine, love a good storm, and don't mind the cold one bit.
Everything else you need to know about looking after them can be found in the PetHelpful article: How to Care for Geese and Goslings—Nature's Ecological Lawn Mowers.
Don't Put Your Old Lawn Mower Away Just Yet!
Geese must be put onto short grass, not more than, say, 10 cms. So you may have to do a bit of strimming or scything to prepare the ground.
Also they don't eat many weeds, dandelion and bindweed being two exceptions. So don't put away your mower entirely, as you'll have to keep cutting back those weeds, and digging them out or spraying with herbicide until you have eliminated them.
Warning: If you use chemical sprays, do check the instructions about animals carefully and keep your geese off treated grass until any danger of contamination is past.
Other Great Uses for Geese Around the Home
In addition to being useful and ecological lawn mowers, geese can provide all sorts of other uses for your life.
Geese as Pets
Contrary to popular belief, geese are not generally aggressive, although the odd one can be a bit ornery! We did have a goose that bit my son, and we called her 'Christmas Dinner'; but more often, they are chatty little souls and enjoy human company.
They can make good pets, especially if you hatch them out yourself so that they 'imprint' on you. That is to say, upon hatching, you are the first thing they see, so they assume you are their mum. You may have seen this in the film Fly Away Home, directed by Carroll Ballard, about a girl and her father who lead a flock of Canada geese from Canada to a wildlife refuge in the U.S.
Geese as Watch Dogs
Geese are also famous for being fabulous watch dogs. We have a lovely English Pointer called Molly who can be an excellent watch dog. When a stranger comes to the door, she will immediately warn us with a loud, deep bark—and when a pan caught fire, it was Molly who raised the alarm.
The problem is that dogs also have an agenda all to themselves so that for every time she alerts us to callers, she will bark 50 times at nothing at all. Geese, on the other hand, know a visitor when they see one, rarely raise a false alarm, and can even distinguish between friend and stranger.
Read More From Dengarden
Cooking With Goose Eggs
Goose eggs make superb cakes and omelettes. They can be used in all sorts of ways for cooking, and don't let anyone tell you they taste strong. Goose eggs are delicious. You only need one to make a quiche for six people. All the goodness of the summer grass stored up in the eggs.
Having said this, I have never tried a boiled goose egg—no egg cups big enough for them.
Decorating Goose Eggs
There is a long tradition of egg decoration going right back to the iron age. The eggs are first 'blown', the contents are removed, and then they are dried and decorated in a variety of ways.
The above image shows a mixture of modern and traditional Ukrainian 'pysanky', a wax batik method of decorating eggs.
Goose eggs are also carved into intricate patterns or cut into two halves hinged together to make jewelry boxes. The eggs in the image show new designs by Luba Petrusha and designs from traditional patterns.
Goose for Christmas Dinner
Traditionally it was goose that was eaten in England for Christmas dinner and turkey is relatively new. Geese mature early and need only grass, so it makes absolute sense to have a few geese for meat.
It is true that killing and preparing geese for the table is much harder than hens, but we 'chickened out' and took our geese to the slaughterhouse.
For me, the big downside is that geese are just so lovely. I hated putting them into the cage to take them away. Unlike the hens, this is an easy job, because they are so trusting. Needless to say, we don't cook our geese anymore.
Our Goslings Busy Dibbling and 'Mowing' the Lawn
Enjoy Your Geese
So, there you are, basking in the June sun with a cold glass of wine and a good book. Keeping you company are your cheeky grass clippers all snipping and chuntering away around you.
From time to time, your little green lawn mowers will come and give you a little nibble or pull on your clothes. They will entertain you as they wander around, eat together, sleep together, rest together, and sit around you, under your chair, on your feet making contented little murmuring sounds. Summer will never be the same without them.
More Advice on Keeping Geese
- Keeping Pure Breeds of Domestic Geese: Essential Facts on Goose Care
Here you'll find information from 28 years experience in breeding exhibition pure breeds of geese, including essential facts that will be useful if you have not kept a goose before.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2009 Les Trois Chenes
Any goose stories or questions?
Les Trois Chenes (author) from Videix, Limousin, South West France on April 21, 2015:
Thanks for dropping by, favored and taking the time to leave a comment. The geese are really a great, easy way to get the lawn cut but then they need time and attention too. Guess there is no easy answer.
Fay Favored from USA on April 07, 2015:
You have every aspect covered I'd say. Right now I could use these guys with my mower not working. You always give us good ideas from Les Trois Chenes. Would love to visit there one day.
Les Trois Chenes (author) from Videix, Limousin, South West France on April 12, 2012:
Thanks for leaving a message, aviannovice. Looking forward to seeing your goose hubs.
Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on April 11, 2012:
Voted awesome. I enjoy geese, too, as evidenced in my hubs.
Les Trois Chenes (author) from Videix, Limousin, South West France on August 12, 2011:
Many thanks for your kind comments Sun-Girl.
Sun-Girl from Nigeria on May 23, 2011:
Great article with awesome pics.
Les Trois Chenes (author) from Videix, Limousin, South West France on March 29, 2011:
Many thanks for dropping by, annmackiemiller. They are wonderful animals. I think we're going to give them a miss this year, but already we are out with the lawnmower on a daily basis instead of once a week or fortnight.
annmackiemiller from Bingley Yorkshire England on March 28, 2011:
great - I love geese - if only I had the room I would keep some but I have to be content with visiting our residents ones who have gone wild on a green field site near my home.
Les Trois Chenes (author) from Videix, Limousin, South West France on September 02, 2010:
Hi Carl. I also keep sheep to help with the same job: keeping the grass under control. They are all great help, but goats, geese and sheep graze selectively and none of them eat thistles, docks and many other weeds - so don't throw away the lawn mower just yet.
Carl - Lawn Mower Guy on September 01, 2010:
Geese as lawn mowers! I came across an article about goats as lawn mowers, and now geese. This is amazing!