Stinker Pinker bit Indie (whippet) (who shouldn’t have been there) on the bottom today when Indie was helping himself to a bit of goose breakfast, as he’s done many times in the last few weeks. I consoled Indie’s outraged sensibilities but was secretly delighted that Stinker is finally assuming the mantel of Stroppy Gander, because it’s been a long, slow process.
If you cast your minds back, I first collected Stinker from a farmyard where he was lying tied inside a pig feed sack, with his head sticking out of a hole. He had been there some time, and the sack was full of the sort of thing a gander would do in a sack over many hours. It made for an interesting drive home, with me trying not to breathe and the dogs hanging out of the windows.
When I got him home, a most disreputable gander emerged from his sack. I thought he was still a baby, because his back was covered in fuzz. Then I realised that the fuzz was all that was left after Stinker’s feathers had been pulled out. He had also been sprayed liberally with blue dye – I think that if I hadn’t chosen that evening to ring and ask for a gander he would have been Sunday lunch.
Stinker waddled jerkily into the orchard to join Tulip and Emma, the resident geese (who loved him from the first but politely showed him to their water tub). He was in shock, and very subdued. About three days after his arrival, the orchard was suddenly knee deep in scruffy white-ish feathers as he got rid of his old clothes and put on new. The new feathers were a huge improvement, pure white mottled with lavender grey. And my heart sang every time I found a blue sprayed feather on the ground – gone, never to return.
He ate like a horse, and bathed constantly but if anybody came too close he would panic and rush wildly away across the orchard, his orange feet going like the flaps on a paddle steamer. We let him be, and kept topping up his food.
Today he is a different goose, with shining new feathers and bright orange legs and bill. Even his eyes have changed – bright blue instead of the dim grey they were when he arrived. And with new feathers and a hiss like a maddened cobra, has come attitude: Stinker has finally stopped cowering. I still mourn Porous, our last gander, but at least the orchard now has a new despot in charge – the King is dead, long live the King!