A month ago we collected seven goose eggs from a nest near the old cemetery, and placed them in our incubator.
Five of these seem to have been infertile, and showed no development after a week. In the end, just one hatched, and the other died in the egg shortly before it was due to hatch — which happens.
This left us with just one new goose, plus the three which hatched earlier (now like fluffy grey basketballs).
Our brooder box is designed to use incandescent light bulbs as the heat source — this used to be a common arrangement when bulbs were cheap. But now Australia has banned them as a greenhouse measure, though you can order special ceramic heating bulbs over the Net for $40 each.
Not being quite that organised, we’ve been making do with softdrink bottles filled with hot water. Allison’s Dad Richard has come up with a design using a plastic milk bottle and an aquarium heater, so we’ll make one of those for our next batch (peacocks).
But at present our arrangements are labour intensive, and just for one gosling. This is not a bad thing as baby animals need interactions to thrive, so I have encouraged our wwoofers and visitors to give gosling Rachel (as she has been named) plenty of cuddles. Which she naturally enjoys.
This weekend we went to Sydney to help our jouster friend Sarah with her Luddenham Medieval Fair. So Rachel the Gosling had to come with us, and was carried around for most of the weekend.
When we originally volunteered to help, we were expecting about 60 people for the feast. In the event, it ended up as 180+ people, the largest event we have ever run after the Twelfth Night kingdom event in Goulburn. Just a few SCA folk came along, all friends of ours, and rather surprised to see us pop up there.
It’s hard running a feast so far away, so we had to cut down our cooking and serving gear to the minimum. Fortunately our friend Jan and her son Justin came along too, with a big ute which we stacked to the gunwales. We basically brought all the food and gear with us.
The menu for the feast was:
- Bread with herb butter or honey butter
- Venison roast with corans (currant and red wine) sauce
- Ember day (onion) tart
- Rissoles shaped as hedgehogs, with almond spikes and currant eyes
- Neeps in verjuice (carrots and parsnips cooked in unripe grape juice)
- Salad of mixed greens, herbs and figs
- Monchalet (lamb stew with mint)
- Chicken and leek pies
- Mushrooms grilled
- Shrewsbury cakes (a caraway shortbread cake)
- Berry foole (berries and whipped cream with meringue).
Needless to way, it was a lot of work. We had Allison and myself, wwoofers Rachel and Alina, Jan and Justin, and two or three other helpers from the local club for short periods.
The event was held at the Luddenham showgrounds. Instead of a hall, they used a verandah area which worked pretty well. Alas they put up a new High Table at the last minute, right in our access way to the tables — so we had a long walk around to serve the food, through a flooded field. Fortunately the rain mostly held off while we were serving.
We had been asked to cater for 13 tables of 14 people. When we got there we found that there were 11 tables of 18 people. Which required some last-minute changes to our serving arrangements. For the most part we adjusted well.
We got overwhelmingly positive feedback for our catering. I gather there were a couple of people who were expecting something different.
The Sunday was open to the public, and we went along to see the jousting. It was a lovely sunny day, and we had a pleasant time. Rachel the Gosling especially enjoyed her day out, and the wwoofers found her a great conversation starter.
Now we’re back home, with a dozen crates of dirty serving gear to wash up and pack away…