I bought my first two runner ducks a few years ago now. and kept the gentle, nervous females, who have mothered all of my many ducklings over the last few seasons.
I named them Nell and Maude, and I suspect both were older ducks when I bought them. Yesterday Nell looked tired and wobbly on her legs, and without the usual hysterical screaming that Indian runners exhibit when they come into close human contact, I caught her and placed her in the quiet duckhouse with food and some water.
Today the old girl remained ill , so I placed her back into the duck house and got on with chores before I needed to leave in order to take one of our elderly neighbours to hospital. When I returned I took the goslings out on to the field for a walk and sat down with them with a bowl of water for them and a cup of coffee for me.
As we sat there in the sun, Nell tottered out of the duckhouse and walked very slowly over to us.
She drank briefly from the goslings bowl as they craned their necks and twittered at her and not six inches away from us, she sat down in the warm sun where she lowered her head into the grass.
I thought to myself that she was dying and very gently I picked her up and let her lie in the crook of my arm where she sat still and very calm.
There was something small but incredibly moving about the whole little scene, and moments later Nell's breathing slowed and then eventually stopped.
It was the oddest thing