Today is Simon’s second birthday. In honor of our resident mascot goose, I shall do what I used to do with my children on their birthdays–tell you the special story of her life. Simon was born on our farm three years after we had re-goosed the flock at MacKenzie-Childs. When I first began gardening here there was a motley flock of geese that were very unfriendly. Some were quite old and ragged looking. I did some research and found that the geese we had were excellent watch geese, but not very personable. Other breeds of geese were recommended for kinder, gentler personalities. We offered the older geese to employees and ordered 6 American Buff and 6 Tufted Roman Goslings from a mail order poultry specialist. The geese arrived just before Memorial Day, when I picked them up at the post office they made the most enchanting fluting sound. We raised them in a cattle tank in our garage until they were too large for the space and old enough to be without supplemental heat, They imprinted on my daughter and me. When I first moved them to Mackenzie-Childs, I was able to take them for walks as they would follow me everywhere. They would not, however, be herded into the Chicken Palace at night and our grounds keeper would chase them around and around the building trying to put them in at night. This activity made them much less tractable and soon they, too, became less friendly.  A skewed male/female ratio further alienated the geese when breeding season came around the next spring. The nine ganders were very protective of the three geese when they began sitting on eggs. Subsequent goslings that hatched out were un touchable. Simon as a gosling So many people would want to hold the adorable balls of chartreuse fluff when goslings hatched, Corinne and I would risk life and limb to catch them. Then came the year Simon hatched. We hypothesize that Simon’s mother may have been a very low status goose since she began sitting so late in the season and had not been allowed in the chicken palace by the other sitting mothers. By the time Simon and her siblings broke free from their shells, all of the other goslings were nearly indistinguishable from the adults. We came in on the morning that Simon hatched only to find that the other geese had destroyed the nest and all the babies, Simon was saved from the carnage because she had slipped through the fence and was wandering around forlornly calling her mother. We scooped her up and made the split second decision to adopt her. Simon imprinted on us and spent her early days in my office. Word of advice–geese and small spaces are not ideal matches. She would sit at my feet as I did desk work and was everyone’s darling. As Simon has grown, she and Corinne have become inseparable. Corinne is so very patient and often comes in on her days off to care for Simon because “no one else understands her”. Simon has graced the Barn Sale T-shirts, has an ornament, is the star of our children’s enamelware, is featured on the new Aurora Dinnerware, and is very much a fashion model in the catalogs.   So next time you visit, make sure you say hello to Simon–she is the goose who lives with the sheep. She does not think she is a goose!

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6 Responses to Happy Birthday Simon!!!

  1. viv says:

    happy birthday Simon you are just gorges …love your topnot
    miss viv

    • Mariann says:

      Simon says thank you very much. She also wants you to know she has tried different looks for her top knot. But has decided to embrace the knot as her own style forever.

  2. Deb says:

    Happy birthday, Simon.. Many more! See you at the barn sale or maybe you go on vacation during those crazy days!

    • Mariann says:

      Simon works all four days of the barn sale. She likes to greet everyone. She thanks you for the birthday wishes.

  3. Martha Iszard says:

    Hi Mariann
    Our family loves Simon. I bring my grandchildren to see him often.. But I also want to let you know that while at the Barn Sale on Sunday I admired your gardens. I was so impressed with the hard work that you and your staff do. I always go to see the vegetable garden to see how it is coming along. My daughters dream is to have a garden like that . She lives in Aurora and does visit when she can.. I told her a lot of hard work goes into all the gardens on the property . I just wanted you to know that there were a few of us there this weekend that really respect what you do. I can’t imagine how difficult it will be to get the grass back to normal. Do you know the name of the daylilly along the west fence in the vegetable garden ? I am going to the daylilly place off of route 14, near Geneva to see if they have it.. Thank you for caring for such a beautiful place.

    • Mariann says:

      Thank you so much for the kind words, Martha. It is so nice to know you enjoy it so much. I was cashiering all weekend but at night my dreams were filled with the work we would have to do to renovate the lawns when the tents go away. The vegetable garden is one of my favorite spaces — I love the geometry. The Hemerocallis you asked about is either ‘Country melody’ or ‘Pretty in Pink’. I planted both and now, for the life of me, I cannot differentiate the two. They are very similar. Let me know if you are unsuccessful finding it. I may be able to help! Best wishes, Mariann

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