National Geographic : 1930 Mar
FOWLS OF FOREST AND STREAM TAMED BY MAN Photograph by Graham Romeyn Taylor THE "GOOSE STEP" IN HANGCHOW "The foolishest geese I ever beheld"-so George Washington characterized the Chinese geese which Gouverneur Morris sent him in 1788 (see text, page 364). They were long known as Swan geese because of their long, slender neck and the resemblance of the White variety to the swan when on the water. They are bred chiefly for ornament and exhibition. In the first century B. C., when the Romans first invaded Britain, they found domesticated geese. In the course of time geese were pastured on the public lands as well as on private property, the rental charges per goose being fixed by law. Geese were frequently driven from dis trict to district to feed on the waste grain in the fields after the harvest. Large flocks, numbering from 2,ooo to 3,000 each, were driven to market in London by gooseherds, each of whom was attended by two or three boys, who carried crooks for catching lame or wandering birds. In 1740 the Duke of Queensberry wa gered that a flock of geese could travel from Norwich to London faster than an equal number of turkeys. The race was staged and the geese won by two days, by virtue of the fact that upon the ap proach of nightfall the turkeys took to the trees, whereas the geese moved along steadily from early dawn till dark. The custom of driving geese to market ceased many years ago, however, because it was found that they could be fattened to better advantage near home. GOOSE CULTURE IN AMERICA Goose culture in America had its be ginnings with the arrival of the early settlers from those European countries where goose raising had been practiced for centuries. The industry did not de velop rapidly, however, probably because of the relative abundance of wild ducks and wild geese as well as other game. As the country became settled and farms were hewn out of the wilderness, farm flocks were established. Then, as cities grew, commercial goose farms were started. As early as 18oo goose raising had be come an important enterprise in Connecti cut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, especially in the Little Compton section of Rhode Island. The industry thrived for approximately Ioo years, and then began to decline for no apparent reason except that with the improvement of market fa- 351.