Raising Geese on Family Farm Helped Put Iowa Woman Through College

Author Photo
By Capper's Staff | Feb 9, 2012

When I was in high school, I needed to earn money for college. My parents and I came up with the idea of raising geese. We didn’t know too much about it, but we read all we could and talked to people who raised them on their family farms. We bought a few White Embden and a few Toulouse goslings from the Murray McMurray Hatchery in Webster City, Iowa. Every year we had more geese. We started hatching our own. One year we had more than 100, all of them named.

We found the geese to be quite interesting creatures. They liked to nibble at everything, including valve stems and house wires. We had to wear jean jackets with metal buttons that were pressed into the material because the geese would gnaw at regular buttons and snip them right off. When a goose couldn’t saw off the metal ones, he would look quizzically up at me as if to say, “How come I can’t snip this off”

The geese hated to see us leave. They would run along beside the car as we were driving away, bite at the tires, and scold us. When we came back home, they would raise their heads in the air and trumpet with joy.

Another interesting thing was how the geese all bunched together tightly in time of danger. One of them would spot a hawk in the sky, sound the alarm, and all would come running. They must have thought there was safety in numbers. If they were different ages, they would start fighting as soon as the danger was over.

A comical thing happened one day. We looked out the window and saw one of the geese crawling on his belly as tight to the ground as he could get. His neck was stretched straight out, and one eye was focused on the sky. We wondered what in the world he saw. We listened and looked up to see an airplane flying very low. That goose was sure that plane was headed right for him.

The geese made good lawn mowers. We just fenced off the area we wanted mowed. In a short time the grass would be all nibbled off. Then we would move the fence to a different area. Once we didn’t have time to move the fence right away. We pulled grass for them and threw it in the pen. They would all make a mad dash for it. In no time it would all be gone. My mother got a mischievous streak one day and decided to throw in some onion tops. The geese dashed for them and just as quickly spewed them out, shaking their heads back and forth in disgust. It was so funny.

Joy J. Palmer
Forest City, Iowa

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.

Capper's Farmer - Your Hub for All Things Handmade

Get step-by-step instructions, DIY projects, upcycling tutorials, and more!