Well, geese would be more accurate because there were two.
A few days before Christmas, JR and I decided it was finally time for the birds to go. The birds consisted of two geese and seven ducks living in our small brown barn. We got them in the spring of 2013 along with about eighty chicks and fifteen poults (baby turkeys). We butchered the chickens and turkeys last fall, but we still had the water fowl.
This December has been very mild, and with above freezing weather we decided we could manage the nine birds. Colder weather is definitely coming, and trekking through snow drifts to carry water from the house for just a few birds gets difficult as winter progresses. Since last year we’ve also had this romantic notion of a fresh Christmas goose. It was time.
We are far from expert at this, so after many hours of plucking, cleaning, and packaging, we had a disastrous garage and kitchen and nine finished birds.
We put the ducks in the freezer, but I brought the two geese over to JR’s mom who would roast them for Christmas Eve.
December 24th came, and after several hours of morning chores JR and I drove the hour to see my parents, enjoy a noon meal, and attend church.
When we got back to the farm, let’s just say the kitchen was in mild crisis.
My mother-in-law had cleaned her oven several days before, and she must have bumped or cracked one of the heating elements. It was glowing and sparking as she watched the oven and tried to finish the roasting.
Earlier in the afternoon my sister-in-law had arrived as my in laws were getting back from church. She had frantically called them proclaiming “FIRE in the oven!!” because it was glowing bright and orange. She was worried it was a grease fire, and she wasn’t sure what the best course of action was.
She was instructed to “turn off the oven,” and hopefully it would go out. In truth, it was just sparks from the cracked heating coil.
By the time we got back things were under control, and everyone was impatiently waiting to see if the dying oven would cook the birds. They were rotating the broiler on and off, watching carefully, and hoping.
This gave me time to make another check in the barn. It was a busy place as we had five new heifers throughout the day, but things went smoothly with the mild weather.
We had a memorable Christmas supper, and I suppose we felt a small sense of pride at having raised the meat start to finish. (Though I don’t think I’ll be sorry if I never butcher another bird.) When things don’t go according to plan it’s good to remember they usually make the best stories. I suspect we will always remember the year of the goose!