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Stephen Jr. is Back in Black


By webmaster - Posted on Jul 24, 2012

Steven Jr. and Family (Look closely and you can see his colored wing feathers)

By Nancy Posey

Many will remember the countless winters spent keeping the Parshallville Mill Pond open so that Stephen the goose could have a safe haven to spend the winters. A small pump kept the pond water open. Bubbles danced with delight as Stephen and his many wild friends played while the snow, wind and sleet kept us all inside safe in our warm homes. It was a sight to behold seeing Stephen the white goose sleeping in that open pond water. He was happy.

The first spring was bitter sweet. The ice was gone from the pond but so was Stephen. He was nowhere to be found. We would send "Stephen Alerts" from the north end to the south end of the pond. It was like a "where's Waldo" epic. No one had seen Stephen. We all had decided that a coyote or some other creature had killed him. A sadness fell over Parshallville.

One foggy spring morning I watched as the first family of Canadian geese appeared. First Mom and Dad and 8 tiny yellow goslings and there was Stephen bringing up the rear. The news alert went out that Stephen was alive and had a new family.

No nature story could be more complete. It was a freaky thing to see a family of Canadian geese being protected by Stephen the knight in shining white feathers. He protected and nurtured those babies as though they were his own. The strangest thing is that the Parents allowed Stephen to be in charge.

Stephen would bring his foster family to the Cullen Foster Home. He would peck at the door and all the seniors would come out with the scraps from breakfast. Crusts of bread saved from their plate to feed Stephen and his family. Anna, better known as "Mother goose" was Stephen's favorite. He would eat out of her hand. She would sit outside admiring the beauty of Parshallville and Stephen would sit quietly with his family and enjoy the serenity as well.

Anna was 90 years old. I don't know how goose years equate to human years but I had to feel that they were about the same age. Stephen & Anna just seemed to understand each other.

When Stephen's children were not longer babies, it was time for their first flight. That is always a special event on the Parshallville Pond. Squawking and flapping wings filled the village of Parshallville . There they were, Stephen, Mom, Dad and all the children about to take flight for the first time. They all ran along the top of the water, yelling and calling to each other. Soon they all took flight for the first time. Yes, Stephen our domestic goose could fly. They all lifted in flight. Your heart swelled with joy to see Stephen so happy. Then tragedy struck. Stephen couldn't keep up and fell from the sky into the water.

He made a splash and watched his family fly away. He sat very still in the water for a long time watching until his family could no longer be seen. There he was, alone on the pond. We all cried for his sorrow.

Stephen seemed to rebound quickly. He was back at the Cullen Care Home taping his beak on the door. He came to all our homes on the North end of the Pond. He chased the entire Hartland Football team in 1998. Those big, bad ball players ran like schoolgirls scared of Stephen. He laughed at that and for the moment, had found another happy family situation.

Everyone on the Pond knew Stephen. Every winter there was an open pool for him to play in. Every spring, he would leave and come back with a new family. Year after year, Stephen would foster a new family of Canadian geese and their goslings. It was quite a site. This went on for close to 8 years.

Stephen died in the spring of 2002. We all miss him. The pond just didn't seem the same. Some mornings I thought I heard him call out, but it was just the wind.

Now this is truly the best part of the story. This spring, to our amazement, out of the foggy morning mist came the first family of Canadian geese. Mom, Dad, the babies and yes a big white domestic goose bringing up the rear. Could it be? Yes, the big white goose was indeed a son of Stephen. This magnificent white goose spread his wings to protect his foster family and when he did, his identity was exposed. His under wings were those of a Canadian goose. Black and grey and without a DNA test to confirm, we know it is Stephen's son. Just as brave and just as entertaining. Take a trip down to the pond and watch for him. Be sure to bring food and enjoy Parshallville's Magic epic unfold. Stephen Jr. is Back in Black...........

Steven and Anna “Mother Goose”
Stephen and Anna “Mother Goose”

Steven in his open winter pond
Stephen in his open winter pond

Fun Fact

According to a long-time local man, the pond used to have lots of big fish and recreation. There were wooden rowboats for rent on the pond, upstream across from the “peninsula”. Also there were two docks and people came to fish the pond. Fish caught included: 5 and 6 pound bass; crappies (speckled bass); northern pike; catfish; blue gills; warmouth bass; walleye. There used to be no fence under the mill around the wheel, and the kids spear fished there. Crayfish were caught at night by the kids, using flashlights. It was an eerie sight seeing those lights below the dam. In the daytime, the kids stood under the dam, getting sprayed by the force of water. (I remember this-my kids did it.) Bullhead and catfish were planted in the pond. The walleye in our pond went to Lake Shannon when the dam broke.