The wet August may have been a washout for British holidaymakers and growers struggling to harvest their crops, but it has been a big hit with geese on the farm.
Some regions have had three times the average rainfall – and less than half the average sunshine – for the month. Yet geese being reared for Michaelmas or Christmas have enjoyed the extra growth of grass and the opportunity to splash around in the wet.
Judy Goodman, chairman of British Goose Producers and a farmer who produces around 100 geese in Worcestershire for the traditional Michaelmas market and nearly 4000 geese for Christmas, says her geese have enjoyed the conditions during August. “There’s certainly been no question of the geese suffering heat stress this summer,” she comments.
Like other goose producers around the country, she has found a growing demand for Michaelmas. There are many customs associated with Michaelmas – not least the habit of tenant farmers providing their landlord with a goose in the hope of avoiding a rent rise in the year ahead.
Around the country more restaurants are seeing the potential for promoting Michaelmas geese on the menu. Most appropriately, the Gaggle of Geese pub at Buckland Newton, Dorchester, Dorset, will be featuring goose, supplied by local farmer Michael Coleman, of Milton Abbas, who is rearing 60 for Michaelmas and more than 500 for Christmas.
Emily Hammick, who runs the pub with her husband Mark, says they are also planning to serve goose during the autumn.