Monday, January 30, 2006

Migratory Dangers

There were about a bazillion of them.

A flock of Canada geese settled in a field a couple miles west of here, along with some sandhill cranes (the bigger gray birds in among the black-necked geese). Except for a few sentries among the geese, the birds were grazing on the newly sprouted grasses. The cranes eat bugs, frogs, and sometimes moles if they're small enough.
It was Saturday, and while our turkey roasted in the oven, Bernie and I jumped in the car to go see the amazing sight of the great flock pausing on their migratory flight. I'd been telling Bernie how astonished I was to see so many geese at one time, but hearing about it just wasn't the same. He gasped and pulled over almost onto the edge of the field to look at them in their thousands.

This picture doesn't do their numbers justice. The view of the field is about six times the width of this photo, if not more, and doesn't show the rest of the flock that looked like a gray blur behind the line of the irrigation ditch.

As we watched, listening to their low honks and trills, a gunshot was fired and the entire flock rose into the air in a dark cloud. There were several more shots, and then we saw a man picking up dead geese. He killed five of them on the fly.

I suppose that I could understand, if the geese were ravaging his newly sprouted barley or wheat or oats. But the sound of the shotgun chased them away -- he didn't need to kill them.

But you never know. Maybe the price of gasoline and natural gas were making it hard for him or his workers to put food on the table. Maybe he loves the taste of wild goose the way I love the taste of venison. And after all, I had my own large bird roasting in the oven, didn't I?

That same morning, Lillian made her first connection between living creature and carcase, as she avidly watched Alex and me preparing the turkey for cooking. Suddenly horrified, she cried out, "Where's his head? Where's his feet? No, we can't eat him!!" It took some explaining to convince her that the turkey was no longer alive, and that we would honor the turkey's life by preparing it with gratitude for food to eat. It was a good day to remember that about our food, be it carrot or cow.

I hope the guy who shot the birds eats them, and honors their lives by preparing them with gratitude, also.

Still, geese ...

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