“These aren’t tame geese,” Bixler said. “They come from having the strict instincts of migration and feeding to basically being in a wheelchair, so it’s an adjustment.”
Bixler takes birds to convalesce at his farm in nearby Jones, where ponds offer flightless geese protection from the coyotes, bobcats and domestic dogs that would otherwise devour them on sight of injury.
“It’s not like there’s a recovery time in nature,” Bixler said. “You got a little bit of time, but if you take very long, you’re going to end up inside of somebody’s gut.”
Bixler has had more than 150 avian guests at his farm since 1997, he said, and has even installed aerators in one pond to keep it from freezing during winter.
“I’m a bad farmer because a bad farmer is a good wildlife manager,” Bixler said. “They like the corners that you didn’t mow and the wheat that’s still in the field and the spilled grain. So the sloppier you farm, the better it is for the wildlife.”
Bixler said he didn’t know if the bird flew into a power line or was hit by a car, but, if it hadn’t been caught, its goose would have been cooked. Now, its prognosis is getting better; depending on how its healing progresses over the next few days, an amputation might not be necessary.
However, this goose isn’t the only animal Berry has helped rescue over the past few weeks. Berry also volunteers at the impromptu animal shelter set up at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds in Norman after the May 20 tornado. There, Berry feeds, cleans up after and walks some of the dozens of dogs and cats separated from their owners by the storm.
“I have a huge soft spot for animals,” Berry said. “There are a lot of volunteers who are ready to help the people, and I just wanted to make sure that the animals didn’t get overlooked.”