An Interview With HausBar Farm's Resident Goose

Gustavo the Goose talks to us about his crowdfunded children's book

One glance at Gustavo’s Instagram is enough to let you know that this is no ordinary goose. Gustavo and co-author/stage mother Dorsey Barger present life on HausBar Farm in brightly colored, peppy glory, with enthusiastic captions professing Gustavo’s affections for a quirky cast of co-stars that range from Kevin the Rooster to human pals of every age.

Courtesy of HausBar Farm

It’s perfect fodder for a children’s book, so it won’t surprise you to learn that Gustavo and Dorsey are writing one. And it’s a crowdfunded paean to social justice and bilingualism, in true Austin form. I sat down for a chat with Gustavo to learn all about what life is like for a celebrity goose.

Gustavo was born in a hatchery, before making the long trip across the country to HausBar Urban Farm. “The trip across country in the box was a little unsettling,” says Gustavo. “I mean, it was kind of dark in there even though it had lots of holes in it, and and the ride was a little bumpy, but all of us were great sports about it. My mom and mi tia Lola opened the box and immediately fell in love with me. As soon as I looked around I said, ‘Cool place, needs a little bit of that good old goose sensibility, though.’"

And give it the ol’ goose sensibility he did. Since day one, HausBar has become Gustavo’s farm, cleaning up garden scraps with great efficiency, guarding the henhouse, and even raising a brood of baby ducklings. “Farming just really came naturally to me,” he says. “I was born with quite a bit of confidence which everyone could see, even when I was just two days old. I mean, English isn't even my first language, but I'm totally fluent now, and I'm really good at public relations. That's how I brought on board all of the great chefs that we grow for: First I led them on a tour of the farm and then gave them one of my special gooses kisses. That Gustavo kiss always seals the deal. I have those chefs eating right out of my hand.” And if you schedule a visit to stop by the farm, Gustavo might eat out of your hand and give you a few of his famous kisses as well!

Gustavo was inspired to write a book by his interactions with visitors: “People who come to the farm tell me all the time, ‘Gustavo, your life is so cool. You should really write a book about it.’ Everyone says that, so I thought well, ok, give the people what they want.” He hopes that his hard work writing a book in his second language, with no hands to hold a pen, will be inspiring to young readers. “The thing I really want my readers to learn from me is that no matter what you do and no matter who you are, people can look at you and say, ‘You can't do that.’ And you just shouldn't listen to that junk. Like with me, they said, ‘You silly goose, you can't have a farm.’ And I just said, ‘Yep, I can.’ It's really my motto in life.”

Courtesy of HausBar Farm

Gustavo’s book is a family affair, with Dorsey typing, Gustavo narrating, and his grandmother painting his portrait. “It was awesome being my grandmom's muse,” he says. “I was really good at it. She's a really good painter so when she would show me her latest, I'd say, ‘No way, that is so good!’ It made her really happy because I'm a bit of an art critic.”

He brings that confidence to the page, with a book that promises to teach kids about the importance of multiculturalism and self-acceptance through his experiences working on the farm with his tios and tias. “You can learn the coolest things from people who grew up in different cultures than you did,” Gustavo says. “The food they make every day here on the farm, and the songs we sing in Spanish, and the dances from Mexico that they show me, have really expanded my goose-mind. I love mis tios with my whole heart.”

Even though he’s a little salty that mama Dorsey is taking half the credit (“She said that she'd type my story for me and the next thing I know, she's calling herself co-author. I love her, so I don't want to hurt her feelings, but that was a bit of a stretch. I hope she doesn't see this interview.”), Gustavo is excited to inspire kids from Austin and beyond with his message of self-acceptance.

“Kids should know that we are all different kinds of people. Some people are rabbits, some people are miniature donkeys, some people come from Mexico, and some people come from Texas. I speak Spanish, goose, duck, and English. That makes me a polyglot. Not everyone is a polyglot. That makes me different. I have two moms. Not everyone is that lucky. Be like me, kids: Stick your chest out way in front of you and honk and walk away from anyone who tells you can't live your dreams.”

Barger adds, “On Gustavo’s Farm is headed to the presses! We are so grateful to everyone who supported our campaign which ended yesterday [September 24]. We raised almost $13,500, 89% of our goal. We are so excited.”

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