Thursday morning began as it usually does. I got up, had my coffee, dropped my kids off at school, and came back to really start the day with farm chores. The geese were let out, and then the ducks and chickens. I had already filled up the buckets in the goose yard, and had come back outside with the second load of water for the ducks. The geese were hanging out in front of the house, nibbling bits of old flowers in my flowerbed, when I noticed one of the Roman Tufted’s, Twister, was off to the side of the house. She was laying down in the gravel driveway with her foot stretched behind her. For a second I thought nothing of it. When there is a particularly sunny patch the geese, ducks, and chickens will lay in it and often times stick out a foot or wing to absorb more heat, but normally they do that in the summer, not when it is 19 degrees and windy. I set down the bucket and walked closer to see what was going on. At first all I saw was a red thing sticking out of the top of her foot. I began thinking she had managed to break it somehow, but upon closer inspection it turned out to be a giant, red, fishing hook, and there was line still attached.
I have no idea where the hook came from, or how it got into the top of Twister’s foot, and at the time getting it out was my biggest concern. Twister was acting very calm, so I knelt down, and grabbed her foot to see how deep the hook was lodged. At that point she started flapping her wings, batting me in the head, trying to get away. In the process she jerked her foot, breaking the fishing line, and walked off. Now what?
While the geese were occupied I decided to finish giving the ducks their water and come up with a plan. The easiest thing to do would have been to put Twister in a dog crate and take her to the vet, let the professionals handle it. I don’t have a vet, and I’m not sure who in my area will take care of geese, so that was off the table. It seemed like this was a two man job, but it was just me home and I wasn’t leaving a hook in her foot. So, the trick to successful first aid was going to be careful planning. I went in the house and found a giant towel, ( I was thinking I could wrap it around her to help keep her calm) hydrogen peroxide, Neosporin, gauze for bandaging, Rooster Booster, and pliers.
The next thing to do was catch Twister. This had the potential to be the hardest part, but I figured I would try bribing her cooperation with lettuce. I called the geese into their yard, scattered greenery everywhere, and picked Twister up from behind. The gander, Alfie, was not too happy with this. He honked at me, and reared up, but he didn’t charge or hiss, and let me take her out of the goose yard. I had intended to swaddle her in the blue towel, but I realized that would require more than one hand. So I just put the towel in my lap, and then sat with Twister on the porch, one arm around her wings so she couldn’t flap, her head curving over my shoulder. While she nibbled my jacket, I got the peroxide, gauze, Neosporin, and Rooster Booster ready, and then I looked at the hook. I had meant to use pliers to help get it out, but I had left them in the house. Thinking trying to get them would upset Twister, I figured I could do without. Time to examine the injury and figure out what to do.
The hook was stuck in the top of her foot, but hadn’t gone all the way through. So, I pressed the back of the hook down with one finger, and pulled at the top of the hook (where the bend is) with the other, and was able to get it out without yanking very hard. Twister was very calm the whole time, and she allowed me to clean the injury with a warm, wet, wash rag. I then poured peroxide on top, and was going to apply Neosporin, but in the five or ten minutes we were outside, it froze. Since that was worthless I figured Rooster Booster would work just as well. Rooster Booster is a cover-up lotion for when poultry are picking at each other, causing them to bleed. I figured it probably has some antiseptic properties, and would keep her from chewing the bandage off. After that, I put her back in the goose yard, gave her more lettuce, and made sure she had plenty of dry hay to rest on. Twister wasn’t putting any weight on her foot the first day, but is now walking around like normal.
Geese are so curious, particularly of anything shiny or plastic, it is imperative hardware and sharp objects are picked up, but sometimes things are missed. Have no fear, if you miss it, the geese will eventually find it. I was lucky Twister had the hook in her foot, and hadn’t eaten it. When injuries happen it is best to be prepared with a well stocked first aid kit, and the confidence to do whatever has to be done.