Ecological Lawn Mowers - using geese as a lawnmower
Do you dream of the 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 six and eleven 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 a large gardens, and plenty of lawns, a 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 and so decided to call in some help.
Find out more about keeping geese
If you're going to keep geese seriously then you should really arm yourself with a good book. The one below is just one of several excellent books that you can find on Amazon.com
Gorgeous goslings mowing the lawn
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 fifty 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.
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.
Decorated 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. This 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, (see the video below), 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.
This beautiful carved goose egg is so intricate
Keeping 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 US.
Care of geese
It is relatively easy to look after your geese. 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, just look at these pictures. 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 you need to know about looking after geese: How to care for geese - natures natural ecological lawn mowers
Geese eat grass but not most of your weeds
Don't put your old lawn mower away just yet!
Geese must be put onto short grass, not more than, say, 10cms, so you may have to do a bit of strimming or cything 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.
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, eating together, sleeping together, resting together and sitting around you, under your chair, on your feet making contented little murmuring sounds. Summer will never be the same without them.
Goose for Christmas Dinner
Traditionally it was goose that was eaten in England for Christmas dinner and turkey is relatively new. Geese mature early, need only grass and 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.
Geese not for you? Determined to get a lawn mower?
Our goslings busy dibbling and 'mowing' the lawn
More advice on keeping geese
- Geese - Gulliver Geese
Geese from Gulliver Geese. Suppliers of day old goslings available from April to August. Detailed information on how to rear goslings and geese.
- Keep geese to cut your grass
If you are fed up of mowing the lawn, why not get a little help from our animal friends. A pair of geese will keep a large lawn cropped pretty short, and a couple of sheep will deal with a bigger area. You will also find that you have some friendly f
- Keeping pure breeds of Domestic Geese - essential facts on goose care
Information from 28 years experience in breeding exhibition pure breeds of geese - essential facts, useful if you have not kept a goose before.
A heart-warming film that will inspired to keep geese
Film 'Fly Away Home' Directed by Carroll Ballard, and starring Anna Paquin and Jeff Daniels. Based on a true story of Bill Lishman, a Canadian inventor, artist, and ultralight aircraft hobbyist.
© 2009 Les Trois Chenes