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Tuesday, 25 July 2017

who let the ducks out?

This has been a month of all things duck



As previously reported, the mother duck who I wasn't sure could count hatched her nine eggs. As it happens it is me who cannot count. She had ten eggs. When hatched she had seven ducklings. As it happens she had eight. Two sadly met untimely deaths involving getting stuck somewhere but she was a very proud mother of five - er -  six adorable little chaps. Actually she hadn't been the only one to lay eggs and sit on them. Her sister had attempted it as well. But whereas the first duck made a beautiful nest lined with plant labels and the down plucked from her chest, set amongst a pastoral setting of soft planting -  her sister made a paltry nest amongst the flowerpots like she was some sort of trailer trash.
Sadly she laid two eggs, one disappearing and the other she got bored with and it never hatched. I'm not sure she would have been such a good mother as she preferred to hang out with the drakes.


So now we have thirteen ducks in various shapes and sizes. I have swopped three of the Indian Runner ducklings with my friend Mary for three Magpie Ducklings. (see above) I am hoping that once the mating season is over (mid August) they will all get along just fine. At the moment there is a great deal of suspicion.
somewhere in here are eight ducklings -you can see why they were difficult to count. They are one day old.


the three new Magpie ducks
I'm not sure if I'll be naming them. When we first got the Indian Runners - a beautiful smart black pair - they were named Mr and Mrs Walters. We added a white one later called Phyllis. I had to take her to the vet once in a box and sat in the waiting room with other people with boxes containing cats or dogs on leads. We were the only duck and in vets they insist on adding your surname to the chosen name of your pet. So "Phyllis Coggin"was duly summoned. She popped her head up out of the box and the waiting room collapsed in giggles.
the mother duck with her three remaining off spring
Now all the ducks seem to be called Walters. The two boys in the garden are the Mister and Mister Walters. When the babies grow up and prove to be boys (most likely - they usually outnumber the girls when they hatch) I may well put them in the garden too so we'll have the Mister, Mister, Mister and Mister Walters who I daresay will all want to come into the house and admire themselves in the glass of the washing machine.
the two boys in the garden
When I first introduced the new ducks to the old ducks there was a lot of pecking which went on. I now understand the saying "a pecking order" as indeed there is one. The alpha male (Mr Walters) is above the other male (Mr Walters) and the Mrs Walters have no say in the matter. I'm going to introduce feminism into the coop. I  also understand all those useful maxims. "don't count your eggs before they're hatched." "Don't put all your eggs in one basket."
Pixie's very interesting fact is that ducks have no nerves or blood vessels in their feet.


And as Beezle and Kalu Rinpoche would say " We will never again have the chance to be born into a body like this one."

Each summer the house martins return to the stables - here is the latest brood - soon to fledge.

Ducks

by Frank W. Harvey

From troubles of the world I turn to ducks,
Beautiful comical things
Sleeping or curled
Their heads beneath white wings
By water cool,
Or finding curious things
To eat in various mucks
Beneath the pool,
Tails uppermost, or waddling
Sailor-like on the shores
Of ponds, or paddling
- Left!  Right! - with fanlike feet
Which are for steady oars
When they (white galleys) float
Each bird a boat
Rippling at will the sweet
Wide waterway…
When night is fallen you creep
Upstairs, but drakes and dillies
Nest with pale water-stars.
Moonbeams and shadow bars,
And water-lilies:
Fearful too much to sleep
Since they've no locks
To click against the teeth
Of weasel and fox.
And warm beneath
Are eggs of cloudy green
Whence hungry rats and lean
Would stealthily suck
New life, but for the mien
The hold ferocious mien
Of the mother-duck.

II

Yes, ducks are valiant things
On nests of twigs and straws,
And ducks are soothy things
And lovely on the lake
When that the sunlight draws
Thereon their pictures dim
In colours cool.
And when beneath the pool
They dabble, and when they swim
And make their rippling rings,
0 ducks are beautiful things!
But ducks are comical things:-
As comical as you.
Quack!
They waddle round, they do.
They eat all sorts of things,
And then they quack.
By barn and stable and stack
They wander at their will,
But if you go too near
They look at you through black
Small topaz-tinted eyes
And wish you ill.
Triangular and clear
They leave their curious track
In mud at the water's edge,
And there amid the sedge
And slime they gobble and peer
Saying 'Quack! quack!'

III

When God had finished the stars and whirl of coloured suns
He turned His mind from big things to fashion little ones;
Beautiful tiny things (like daisies) He made, and then
He made the comical ones in case the minds of men
Should stiffen and become
Dull, humourless and glum,
And so forgetful of their Maker be
As to take even themselves - quite seriously.
Caterpillars and cats are lively and excellent puns:
All God's jokes are good - even the practical ones!
And as for the duck, 1 think God must have smiled a bit
Seeing those bright eyes blink on the day He fashioned it.
And he's probably laughing still at the sound that came out of its bill!