Two geese guard a nest of eggs. One of the geese is bigger than the other. He is the gander, or male goose. The gander guards the smaller goose. She is his mate for life.
Mother Goose sits down on her nest while the gander stands guard. The gander is the father of the baby geese that are growing inside the eggs. They are almost ready to hatch.
Mother Goose has kept the eggs warm for almost one month, turning them each day. This helps the baby geese, or goslings, grow properly in their eggs. Today the eggs are starting to hatch!
The first egg cracks open. Tiny Gosling’s little orange beak pokes through the egg. Next, his head pokes out of the shell. Tiny Gosling must break out of the hard shell without any help from Mother Goose or Father Gander.
Finally, Tiny Gosling pushes his body out of the egg. His feathers are very wet. Tiny Gosling blinks his eyes and lies on his side to rest. He is very tired. Tiny Gosling’s brothers and sisters are breaking free of their eggs, too. One by one, little goslings push their way out of their shells. All 10 eggs hatch in one day.
Tiny Gosling and the others are dry in a few hours. The nest is full of fuzzy, little goslings! Mother Goose has lined the nest with small, soft feathers from her body, called down. During their first hours of life, she covers her new family with her body to protect them.
When she leaves the nest, Mother Goose covers her goslings with straw and feathers to keep them warm and safe. Father Gander keeps other animals away from the nest by flapping his wings and honking. This is a signal for the other animals to stay away!
Now that Tiny Gosling and his brothers and sisters are warm and dry, they need to eat! Goslings can feed themselves from the time they are born. Mother Goose leads the goslings into the barnyard. She shows them how to pull at the grass and weeds. Sometimes the farmer lets the geese snack on weeds for him! The edges of a goose’s bill are shaped like a saw. That makes it easier to tear plants.
While Tiny Gosling eats, he swallows bits of stone and dirt with his food. These bits don’t hurt Tiny Gosling, but help grind the food into small pieces. Then the geese can digest their food easier.
In the morning, Mother Goose takes the goslings to the pond. Goslings can swim when they are only one day old. Tiny Gosling is the first one to go into the pond. He dips his head under first. Then he dips his whole body. Tiny Gosling shakes his feathers as the water trickles down his back.Tiny Gosling moves into deeper water and begins paddling with his tiny, webbed feet. He is swimming! Soon all his brothers and sisters join him. As they swim, they take small sips of water with their beaks and lift their heads so the water can slide down their long necks.Now Tiny Gosling is almost eight weeks old. He has new feathers and looks more like his parents, but he will not be full-grown until he is almost two years old.
Although he will be able to fly soon, Tiny Gosling will never fly away. The farm is his home. Sometimes geese act as watchdogs for the farmer!
One day, Tiny Gosling sees a strange animal. It is a cat, looking for food. When the stranger approaches, Tiny Gosling springs into action. He runs at the cat with his neck stretched out and his wings flapping. He honks and hisses as loud as he can. The cat runs away!
When the big cat has gone away, Tiny Gosling settles down and begins to rub his beak over his feathers. He starts near the base of his tail and collects a special oil onto his beak, then spreads the oil over his feathers. This is called preening.
Tiny Gosling does this again and again. He takes his time so he will not miss any spots. This oil keeps his feathers waterproof. Tiny Gosling takes good care of his feathers to keep them clean and neat. He pulls out dead feathers and picks off tiny bugs. Tiny Gosling cleans his feathers so they will keep him warm in the winter.
When Tiny Gosling’s feathers are clean and dry he walks over to the farmer’s lawn for a snack. He waddles through the barnyard, watching the other geese settle down for an afternoon nap. Tiny Gosling is not tired just yet.
In the farmer’s front yard, Tiny Gosling sees a friendly butterfly. Then he sees the crunchy weeds popping up from the farmer’s yard! He waddles toward the tasty weeds.
Just then, the farmer’s dog comes around the corner of the house. Tiny Gosling doesn’t see this big dog coming toward him at all. The farmer’s dog is watching Tiny Gosling. The dog knows that the goose should not be grazing without the farmer’s permission.
Suddenly the dog runs after Tiny Gosling. The little goose runs toward the barnyard, flapping his tiny wings. Tiny Gosling is scared, but this dog won’t hurt him.
As Tiny Gosling reaches the barnyard, the farmer’s dog runs back to the house. Tiny Gosling is definitely tired now. Maybe he should take a nap after all.
When Tiny Gosling is not bathing or eating, he is sleeping. He tucks his head behind his wing. His round eye opens lazily from time to time. Life on the farm is good for this young goose.