Remembering Leif the Lucky on Our Walk

Yesterday I blogged about losing personal possessions. Today I will share with you a living bird that we lost in the barn fire. Leif the Lucky.

Leif the Lucky arrived on our farm three years ago. I was on a freecycle group that had someone list him for free. I knew that Prince #2 had wanted a goose for years, but could never afford one. I asked him if he was interested and of course, he was. We emailed them about the goose and they told us to come get him. We took off with a box in the car immediately. The lady was getting rid of the goose because he was being so bossy with the other geese and chickens. He was also fighting the other male. He was a beautiful Pilgrim goose-solid white with gorgeous sky blue eyes. We went home with him excitedly waiting to see how the other poultry would react to him.

As soon as we let him out of the box, he jumped down and began running to each livestock pen. He ran to our ram pen, craned his neck and looked in at Owen, our champion ram. He gave Owen a big HONK and then went to the ewe pen. He honked at the girls before going to the doe pen. After that, he ran into the barn and announced his presence to all the chickens and ducks by repeatedly honking and craning his neck at all of them. It was comical! We had never seen such an animal that was fearless of all other animals, honking in their faces. We spent a good deal of time laughing over him and his reign over the other animals on our farm.

After that, Prince #2 named him Leif the Lucky. Leif it was. Leif gathered up the 4-5 ducks we had and began to lead them around the barnyard. If they were too slow, he would swish them with a wing or push them with his beak to move along. Sometimes a drake and duck would stop to mate. Leif would come back and crane his head way down, looking at their heads and honking. It was as if he were saying, “What ARE you doing? Come on, we need to get moving. Now move it!” He was the only goose for two years with us. He joined us on our three day drive/move to Utah. He settled in for the ride with all the ducks. Those were his babies. They followed him everywhere he went. He protected them. If anyone came near them, he honked and hissed as he ran towards them with his wings spread out. Our family was not afraid of him as we knew him to be a big comical baby. But others, were not so sure. I kept thinking that Leif would so enjoy having a female companion of his own kind, but we never found one until this fall.

Ironically (is anything ironic?) the Lord moved us next door to a lady with tons of geese! She constantly has geese in her front yard, back yard, side yard, garage, you name it. I stopped and asked last spring if they had any baby females. No, they did not. Then just before fall, they had a surprise batch of goslings. Was Prince #2 interested? Oh, yes! They offered us a pair. We hoped to breed them in the spring and have some to show in 4H. Prince #2 had shown Leif in Indiana and won Champion with him.

Prince #2 was often guilty of not putting all his poultry in the barn at night. We’d remind him, but if you know Prince #2, you know he has tons of things on his mind and putting away poultry is not always one of the things. The night before the fire, he went out to milk. He heard the coyotes in our ravine, very close to our house. He decided that he had better get his geese in the barn. He chased them all over the place until he got them into the barn. Then he played a game of chase with one of them over the hay in the barn. After he milked, he locked the barn up. At that moment he did not know that he would never see his geese again. The next morning at 4:35AM we awoke to the barn engulfed in flames. Leif and his two geese buddies were gone. Our son had been obedient to us, put his geese in the barn, and lost all of them. This is a thought he will have to carry with him the rest of his life. He was doing the right thing, but would end up carrying a lot of questions in his heart for the rest of his life. This is one of those hard “pills” to swallow. He has his ducks still alive and 4-5 chickens too. He is now putting them in a little shed at night. He refuses to shut the door all the way, but cracks it so that if there is a fire again, they can push the door open and get out. I want to cry for his loss. I do cry.

Last night we were talking about replacing his poultry. He said he did not plan to get any geese as they live a long time and he does not want them to be a burden on us when he is grown up in a few years. Was I hearing right? Was this my son who giggled and laughed as he carried his rooster at age 4 or 5 on his head? Was this the son that grabbed the poultry catalog every year to decide if he could buy some more chickens, ducks or dream of having a goose someday if only he had the money for one. Is this the little guy who could almost always be found out with the chickens-taking them for slides down our slide, playing “jail” with them, showing them in 4H, reading books about poultry, giving a speech at the State Fair on poultry, and just flat out loving his poultry. I can’t stop the tears. When and how did this all happen? Our son is growing up. Time went by so fast. And you don’t want to burden us with a goose? Oh, son, I would gladly be burdened with your goose after you are grown up. I loved Leif too. He made me laugh. I loved his beautiful blue eyes and the way he ducked his head under his wing when you held him for me to look at. I loved seeing you with your goose daily. I would gladly be burdened if only for the memories of a sweet, little boy that lost his beloved goose because he knew his parents wanted them in the barn. I am so sorry Son. I wish I could change it all and make Leif still here. This is something I will carry with me the rest of my life too.

The other night I thought for sure I heard Leif honking in the barn. But, then I remembered the barn is gone and so is Leif. Who would have thought I could become attached to a white goose with beautiful blue eyes? He’s only a goose! Ah, but the joy he brought to our family and the laughs that came with him-that proud neck craning in the pens and honking at the animals, that proud strut as you led your ducks to the feed in the morning, your questioning looks as the drake and duck mated and slowed the procession down, your excitement this past fall in finally having some of your kind to strut with you.

Leif is gone now and our little giggling boy is almost all grown up now too. We are so thankful to have our Poultry Boy still here with us each day. We know soon he will be grown up, but for now, I think we need to have a goose here for him each day. Yes, a goose is messy, but if you knew Leif, you would be able to ignore the mess for all his antics that brought laughter into your life. Others may see goose droppings on the driveway that look gross. We see Leif’s droppings where he was guiding his ducks and his new geese friends to a fun, new adventure each day.

We are remembering Leif the Lucky on our walk.

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