THIS past week has been dominated by caring for the sole survivor of a clutch of greylag geese rescued by a friend. Their nest had been abandoned for no known reason by their mum, with suspicion resting, however, on a fox taking her.

Foxes have robbed both a mallard duck’s nest in front of our sitting room window and snaffled a rather dopey hen who decided to hide a nest in the hedge rather than laying her eggs in the hen hut.

What I had not realised, and was not told, was the gosling had a problem with one of her legs. Occasionally when we have hatched out geese, one of their legs has splayed out to the extent that they cannot stand or walk properly. John has used a soft elastic band and looped it round its legs. Within a day or so the problem is resolved. But this gosling hatched nearly three three weeks ago.

The demise of the goslings' four siblings had led our friend to doubt his skills as a goose keeper. "So you’re the natural choice” was his thinking as he deposited the forlorn feathery bundle in our paddock. I only realised the extent of the goslings mobility problems when it failed to move an inch from where it had been laid in the grass.

Serendipitously, a friend calling is a vet. Asked to check the gosling over and see if we could correct the splayed leg at this stage, he confirmed our thoughts that the problem was by now not correctable. So in the absence of any surgical cure, we turned to a physical one. John set me up a run in the paddock and I lifted the softly peeping gosling in. It must have been ravenous as the feeder of corn I placed next to it, disappeared in minutes. Then shuffled over to the washing up bowl of water I had provided and tried to immerse itself. Genius stroke. I dragged out an old paddling pool from the barn, filled it to the brim with a hose and lifted our patient in. Instantly, the gosling tried to stand on its one straight leg, buoyed up by the water. Success.

Since then the little gosling (Henrietta Hop-a-long) has gone from strength to strength. It has daily physio sessions in the pool and frequent exercise in the paddock. Lots of R&R time too in the run where other voracious fowl can’t gobble up its corn. It is now a family pet with no fear of a dining table appearance. John has had his instructions. Henrietta is reprieved.