Of course we could have penned them up but we are convinced that free range is the way to go. They would quickly exhaust the supply of grass in any pen and then it would cost us money to feed them. If we are going to keep geese they must be happy geese.
Last year we asked a lady from the village to come and kill the geese for us. Her reward was one of the geese. This year we wanted to do it ourselves. It was this year's challenge to myself to kill, pluck and prepare a chicken for cooking... all by myself. This still hasn't happened. yet, but today is Michaelmas - the date when traditionally the geese should be culled - no, a goose wasn't always for Christmas.
We decided to do one. Which we thought a good start since we are beginners. We have a book that explains how to do it and we saw it done last year. A goose is much much bigger than a chicken though and could give you a very nasty peck. I couldn't see how I could hold it and dispatch it at the same time, it was going to take the two of us. Steve caught it and carried it to the appointed place away from the rest of the flock. I then dispatched the goose with a very sharp knife to the throat. It took only a few minutes for the blood to drain out and the goose was gone.
The plucking was harder than I thought it would be. Even with very hot water. Geese have two layers of feathers and the downy stuff is hard to remove. It floats about in the air getting up your nose and obscures the view of the actual carcass. Once the feathers are off it starts to resemble a bird you might buy from the supermarket and it ceases to bear any resemblance to the living breathing honking bird it previously was. Which is a blessing.
The butchery bit was done in the house as the sun was well up by now and the flies starting to come out. Altogether it took 2 hours from catching the goose to trussed bird in the fridge. The end result not quite as good as you would get from the butchers, but then we are novices to this and it is our first attempt. Once roasted, will be just as delicious.
And that is the point. Delicious. Our own free range and organically reared and fattened goose. It is a major milestone and we felt the need to mark it in some way. Cava and freshly squeezed oranges with breakfast.