THE larks stopped their morning singing back in July, so it is a case of up with the Maran cockerel. Unlike the wild birds, Robespierre, ‘The Terror of the Farmyard’, never fails to announce the dawn. He works 365. Mist across the fields and valley; but, behind the soft lace veil, the electric anticipation of September, the month that is the advance guard of winter, yet when grass has a second springtime. It is only the feebleness of the pinky-grey cells of the human brain that reduces Nature to a set of four separate seasons; yesterday, swallows hawked insects in leaf-stripper wind; thus, summer and autumn in one swirling moment. The geese need to get fat and to get fat they need to get out on this ‘flush’ of grass, hence my first duty this September dawn is opening the door of their wheeled, wooden shed.
We have farmed geese on and off for 20 years, and are currently ‘on’, with a small flock of Toulouse, that old French breed famed for being the force-fed provider of foie gras. More to our taste is that Toulouse are reasonable layers and, if they don’t beget golden eggs, they do beget white eggs about which cooks rave. Then, there is their grease, plus their down and, of course, their bodies, which we roast with Port-wine gravy or, for the mature bird, Armagnac and a castiron casserole dish.
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