Lesson 1: Small, vulnerable, fuzzy things cause considerable weakness and lack of will. They can erode even the most steely resolve NOT to keep them around. My husband, who would not settle down the first day until he heard me say ten times that I had alternative plans for them, has now been heard to tell friends, "We are raising them. And the one can't fly, so she may have to stay here, probably in the barn for winter." He only says this when he thinks I am out of earshot.
They were clearly imprinted on humans by the time we got them, and they wasted no time in seeing us as foster parents, following us around the yard. They would frequently come into the garden and sit with me as I weeded, and soon began to display what I thought was funny behavior. They would squeak quite urgently and come over to see what I had pulled from the garden, tasting every clump and plant, seeming in the end to prefer the grass. It took several days of this activity for my light bulb to go on...they clearly thought I was "eating", and came to taste test whatever I had pulled.
Lesson 2: The laws and intricacies of Mother Nature are not fool proof. Sure, they had imprinted on us, but until we started to show them what was expected goose behavior, it was going to be hit or miss whether they learned what they needed to know, unless us dumb humans could get ahead of the curve.
How many times had I counseled teachers and educators that work with challenging kids that you need to teach the desired behavior, not just quell the problem behavior? (Thousands of times would be the true answer, in case anyone is wondering...)
And the lessons did not stop with eating grass. We made the same naive assumption when it came to the pond. Sure, they would just take to it like, well, geese to water. Right? No. Not until I donned the waders one day to pull the cattails did they dare to venture into the water; first a tentative few steps, then a quick jump in and right out again, and only after much trial and error did they settle down to glide and enjoy the pond.
I repeated the "grass picking" behavior, this time with pond plants, and now they easily will graze in either domain, although they seem to prefer the grass.
This pattern of behavior does leave me a little concerned, however, as I do not know how to fly, and have absolutely no intention of purchasing an ultra-lite. (A reference to the movie, Fly Away Home, for those who have never seen it-check it out.)
Lesson 3: Puddle play and slapping one's feet when you walk are FUN. Mothers everywhere should reconsider discouraging their children from these activities. I have seen the geese do this repeatedly, and tried it plenty of times myself lately just to see what they see in it. And I swear, when I do it along with them, they look at me sideways, and they approve. I see it in their eyes.