Despite the name of the shop, The Gray Goose Cookery, it does not specialize in cooking geese—instead, this gourmet kitchen store was instrumental in saving Gloria, the regal yet cranky, arthritic goose residing at Olde Mistick Village.
“Earlier this year, an employee of The Gray Goose Cookery told us that Gloria was ailing,” says Christine Robertson, Office Manager of Olde Mistick Village. “She looked a little sluggish to them. She wasn’t her normal, feisty self.”
Gloria first came to Village in the mid 1980s when her owner could no longer care for her. Knowing the Village maintained duck ponds for their shoppers to enjoy, her owner thought Gloria could live out her life among the ducks who were permanent residents there. A goose in captivity can live up to 40 years.
When the Village office learned that Gloria wasn’t feeling well, they called in a vet. “These birds are part of our family, and Gloria is the reigning bird. We call her Queen Gloria because she is very bossy and hisses when displeased—but she is very protective of her subjects—especially the swan we once had named Gracie. They were good friends and if a duck or person got too close to the swan, Gloria would warn them off with a hiss.”
The vet, who doesn’t know for sure if Gloria is a female, discovered that she had an infection. So every day, the maintenance man in charge of feeding the birds caught Gloria and held her close to his chest so Robertson could give her an injection. “She started feeling better after the first day, so catching her for the rest of the treatment was almost impossible!” Gloria recovered completely, and despite her arthritis and a slight limp, is still reigning as queen in the main duck pond.
And what happens if age and arthritis eventually get the better of Gloria? “We have a duck pond near the maintenance barn that we call the ‘Geriatric Ward.’ That is where we retire all the birds who are too old or feeble to defend themselves from an aggressive duck.”
Spring is a particularly busy time at the Village because of mating season. Ducks fly in to raise their ducklings then fly off again. Many, however, live at the Village year-round. “Why would they want to leave?” asks Robertson. “They have everything they need here.” They are fed five, 50-pound bags of duck food per week by the maintenance crew and the public can feed them duck pellets purchased from the Franklin’s General Store at the Village.
For more information about Olde Mistick Village, visit oldemistickvillage.com or call (860) 536-4941.(Note: This first appeared in the Mystic River Press on December 16, 2010.)
Gloria was sick again in 2011--incurring a $3,000 vet bill! Visit the Gray Goose Cookery if you would like to donate to her care.