Just because something is old and worn out doesn’t mean it should be discarded. This sentiment is true for the animals on our farm. We have a gaggle of geese, six of whom are pushing the ripe old age of 25+ years. Gustav, the Gimpy Goose, is the original O.G. O.G stands for Old Gangster or Old Goose; both names apply. Gustav went from being the head goose and leader to being an abused outcast. As he grows older and frailer, the other geese chase him away from the feed, leave him on his own, and push him around. It has become a bleak existence for poor Gustav.
I have become Gustav’s great protector. I keep a long stick with me and use it to shoo the other geese away from him so he can eat in peace. He gets a full scoop of feed all to himself, and I sit patiently waiting for him to finish his meal. I have begun to provide fresh water for him in a large pan because he has taken to hanging out near the barn and house. He drinks while eating his grain and then uses the water to bathe himself. We have become quite the pair. I sit and talk to him quietly while he eats or bathes, and he has begun to call for me when I go outside.
Our relationship has progressed to where he allows me to pick him up and carry him about the farm. His old leg injury has developed into severe arthritis; at least, that is what I am guessing. Now, he can only walk a few steps and sits down rather clumsily, going face first and landing upon his breast before tucking his legs underneath him. I know he must be tired and hurting if he allows me to pick him up. To my surprise, he doesn’t protest. He rests his head on my shoulder or the crook of my arm and is content to be carried to the shade, near the water, or into the coop. For safety reasons, I have begun to put him to bed inside the small green coop with the baby ducks. It has become our routine to gather him up, cuddle him while Jordan catches the baby ducks, puts them inside the coop at night, and then put Gustav to bed. I believe the poor old fellow appreciates the kindness.
I am the only one he allows near him. Both The Bean and The Bibbed Wonder have tried to pick him up, but he tries to limp away, hissing and nipping at them. Poor Jenna came over on Saturday to do the barn chores for us and was greeted by a biting Gustav when she opened the duckling coop. She texted me to tell me she did not let the ducks out or put Gustav out because he bit her. I had to laugh. Jenna isn’t afraid to go in with big, bossy pigs, but my grumpy old Gustav makes her say, “Nope,” and walk away.
Eric has offered to put Gustav down, but I have protested, and he only makes a half-hearted suggestion. Gustav is old and decrepit, but his quality of life is still good. He continues to enjoy grazing in the front yard, splashing in the baby pool set up for the baby ducks, and is content to be carried around like a baby. As long as Gustav is happy, healthy, and content, I will continue to baby him and keep him safe. Just because he is old doesn’t mean he doesn’t have value. If I am honest, I rather enjoy my new pet and our newfound relationship of trust and friendship. We can gimp around together, nipping and hissing at The Bean and The Bibbed Wonder. They earn the nipping and hissing.
On this muggy July Monday, stay safe, be smart, find the value in the old and decrepit, and keep washing your hands.