Last evening we collected the eggs, I taught Leo how to blow a large goose egg at the kitchen table and we herded the geese and turkeys back into their houses for the night, a procedure that was not a easy as it sounds as the geese and turkeys are all larger than he is.
When it came to the ducks only seven were seen standing nervously in the dusk light. I have eight ducks. 5 pure bred Indian Runners, a magpie female, 2 half breed Indian Runners and a bog standard drake called Halleh, who, long term readers will remember was a lone ducking that was brought up by Blanche, an over broody hybrid hen, who had a desperate need for babies.
I have found through bitter experience that a ratio of 7 females to one male is more desirable given the fact that drakes in season will shag the arse off every female in sight and will do so without finesse or any delicacy whatsoever..
The ratio of 1 to 7, I have found, will give the females some respite in spring and early summer.
|The Ducks facing off a cat in the grass next to last year's Bosoms|
The ducks are a constant on the field. The Indian Runners criss- cross their way through the grass all day long, screaming like teenage girls at a Take That concert as they do so, and all look as though they do bugger all except show off this hysterical part of their somewhat neurotic personalities.
The truth is somewhat different.
The female ducks remain the most prolific eggs layers on the field given their age, and provide an invaluable contribution to the animal care piggy bank by doing so.
Anyhow, like I said, last night at bedtime only seven ducks were standing by their house waiting to be locked away for the night. After a quick head count, I worked out that it was one of the Indian Runner females that was missing, an unfortunate thing, as Runner Ducks go even more hysterical ( if that was at all possible) when they are alone and separated from the flock.
Leo and I looked everywhere. In the pond, in the stream, in the long grass......she was nowhere to be seen and with a heavy heart we locked up the other animals and headed back to the cottage.
As we came back I explained to Leo that she was either sat on some eggs somewhere under a hawthorn bush or she had been snatched by a fox.
He thought about this for a moment, the concentration almost steaming up his glasses
"What you need to do", he said at last, " is to go out when it is very dark and light a candle for her so she will see it and she will find her way home!"
I said I would see... and we went off to walk the dogs down the lane...
Around 11.30pm , as I was tidying up after our guests had gone, I remembered Leo's advice and took myself out on the field.
I didn't have a candle but a small wind up torch which I shone around the bushes and trees for one last look before bed.
Suddenly, from out of a mass of nettles came the duck, quacking loudly as she galloped forward across the field like an extra from a disaster movie.
I caught her easily and placed her back safely with her chattering flock who were sat quietly in the duck house.
I had to smile to myself and the phrase
"Out of the mouth of babes"
came to mind