Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Spring Rock Happenings

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything so I thought I’d catch you up on all the happenings at Spring Rock since Christmas.  I'll try to get a post out every few days until you are all caught up.

We had a lovely Christmas lunch with my daughter in law’s parents and family.  We also picked up two ducks and a drake while we were there.  Casey (my daughter in law’s mum) had a clutch of eggs hatch and had too many ducks wandering around her back yard.  They are Mallard Peking crosses and very handsome indeed.  I don’t think the ducks were very impressed about being handed over and the duck collecting apparently turned into more of a duck rodeo from the sounds emanating from the back yard.   The ducks all objected to the project and the chooks and rooster joined in with rude comments and flapping wings while most of the males at the lunch tried to corral three ducks.  The drake expressed his opinion of being caught rather forcibly when Justin caught him.  Justin had the scratches to prove it.  The ducks were duly tucked away in a box and I uttered soothing words to assure them life was going to be just as good at our house as it was at Casey’s and Scott’s.

We got the ducks home safe and sound with the occasional soft quack to be heard from the rear of the car.  Once the ducks were ensconced in the chook yard we went inside to finish digesting our big Christmas lunch and take things easy for a while.  If only we could.  Cleo, who’d noticed the arrival of a few new additions to the menagerie went down to visit and ran along the outside of the chook yard to say hello.  Guess what?  The ducks could fly!  Yes, it was a big surprise for me too.  I had considered this possibility but they looked too bottom heavy to get off the ground and over the chook fence.  The first night one duck objected to large dogs greeting them to her new home and took off, never to be seen again.  It looks like she used a combination of wings and climbing techniques to get over the fence. I had proof positive the next day that they couldn’t get more than a metre off the ground.   When I arrived to remove Cleo she was nowhere to be seen.  I locked Cleo and Aslan up early for the night and decided I'd clip the other remaining duck’s and drake’s wings the next morning, thinking it was dark now and they’d go to sleep.  I came inside and enjoyed the rest of my Christmas Day – or what was left of it.

I forgot to tell Graeme about the wing clipping plan and he let the dogs out when he got up. Not feeling she'd properly introduced herself the day before, Cleo went down to say hello again.  The other duck took flight and was last seen desperately trying to get airborne but in fact just skimming the ground until she landed on one of our dams.  I once again locked up the dogs and caught the drake to clip his wing.  The dogs were tied up to the clothes line where they could see the chook yard but not reach it.  I thought that once they got used to the idea that there were new residents we'd all be OK, but the poor drake was now lonely.  I didn't believe for a second that we’d be able to catch the duck on the dam.  The drake took himself off to the nesting box where he cuddled up to Aunty Brown, the little broody Silky.  She was not too sure about her new companion, but the drake lived with Chinese Silkies and bantam hens at Casey’s place so he was quite at home with her.  

After doing a few important jobs around the house I walked down to Christie's dam as we call the dam down from the house in memory of my beautiful pony Christie.  As I got closer to the gate I saw the duck standing there looking towards the house with a wistful expression on her ducky face. The sheep took this moment to come tearing down the hill, eager to see what this black and white thing was, and as I got closer I could only stand and watch duck soar (well soar implies grace, there was very little of that) over Christie's dam and into the long, brown grass in Christie's paddock with the sheep in hot pursuit.  I slowly caught up - I was still a fair way away at this time, but couldn't see the duck anywhere.

Eventually, after lots of roaming around the paddock and calling the sheep all sorts of names, keeping a wary eye out for snakes and thinking dire thoughts about ducks and dogs who wanted to meet them, I spotted the duck as she too flight again and landed on the driveway on the other side of the fence in Christie's paddock.  I tried ringing Graeme to come help wrangle the duck but he wasn't answering either his phone or the house phone so it was just me and the duck.  I suspected he was hiding out, worried that I would find the duck and expect him to grab her out of the skies and return her to the chook yard.

My back injury was feeling the effects of all this walking as I made my painful way through the fence wire, doing my best to avoid the barbed wire and not really succeeding.  I had words with the duck about this but she just kept waddling homewards, quacking quietly to herself as she waddled homeward .  I walked slowly behind her with my arms out to try and block any turning back.  She was walking right into a very stiff wind so couldn't take off unless she changed tack.  I was determined she didn't change tack.  As we walked at duck pace rather than human the normally 10 minute walk back took us close to 45 minutes with me talking gently to the duck so she knew I was behind her.  We discussed such things as badly behaved ducks, drakes who were missing their friend and having to settle for being ignored by a broody silky and suitable, yet non-insulting, names for ducks and drakes.

I sped up when she reached the driveway's closed gate in case I could catch her but she just ducked (pardon the pun) under the gate and actually waited for me on the other side while I had to open and close it to get through!  I’m sure the quacking was her saying, “Hurry up!” in duck language.   

We continued our snails' pace wander home and finally caught up with Graeme in the shed  near the house.  Graeme came out and, being a man, immediately took control of the situation, telling me where to stand and what we were going to do.  My back was very sore, I was sick of the whole thing and just let him direct us to where he wanted.  The last leg of duck herding was over very quickly now that I had help (or had been relegated to being the help).  We caught the duck right next to the chook yard, clipped her wing and returned her to her drake who was then happy to leave the much relieved silky and come out and welcome his duck home. 

As I said, while the duck and I were on our walk, chatting of this and that, I tried out a few names for her and the drake.  She studiously ignored such suggestions and Pain in the Neck, and Troublesome Duck.  The ones she seemed to like best, she quacked when I offered them as suggestions, were Christmas for the drake and Quacker for her - Christmas Quacker?  I hope you all get it.  Graeme didn't.  I just got a blank look and explained it to him.  He calls crackers bon-bons so that explains it all.  In all the 41 Christmases we've shared he's never noticed I call them Christmas crackers and he’s never referred to them as bon-bons (being anti Christmas he just has never referred to them)! 

Christmas and Quacker are now happy members of the menagerie and while they studiously ignore our chooks they enjoy competing for treats and scraps and foraging in the garden when the dogs are locked up.  No ducky/doggy friendship blossomed.  Cleo occasionally visits the chookpen to make sure everyone is behaving and when she does the ducks just turn their backs and pretend she isn't there.  A much wiser tactic that panicking and escaping for the wilds of the farm if you ask me.

Christmas and Quacker back home and enjoying a wander around the back yard now that they have promised not to try escaping again.