Compassion in World Farming

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Where to start...

When I first started my blog I wondered if I would have enough news to fill it regularly, but writing it has made me realise 2 things:

1. Far from being mundane, my life is full of wonderful & exciting events (not exciting by most people's standards in an adrenaline pumping way, but exciting in an Earth Mother kind of way)

2. I should make sure that I relish every single second of this wonderful life in the countryside & take more time out from chores & the every day hum drum just to sit, absorb & be thankful.

The last few days have been very eventful & I don't know whether to start at the beginning or start with what has been most important to me. I guess starting at the beginning is probably sensible otherwise I'm bound to miss something (THE DUCKLINGS HAVE LEFT HOME!). Oops it slipped out! Yes, the event that tugged my heart strings the most was on Sunday when it was time for our Muscovy ducklings, Chalk & Cheese, to leave the back garden & join the geese, ducks, chickens & goats up in our little field. I knew it was time, I knew it was the right thing to do; I knew they needed to mix with other birds & behave as ducklings really should - but it was sooo hard. They weren't going far, but I knew that it was inevitable that that very special, close bond with them would weaken. I reminded myself that was the way things should be & that I couldn't remain the focus of their world forever ,so it was a case of being brave, shoving the Kleenex in my pocket & getting on with it.

The duckling's new home

The first job was catching hold of them & carefully clipping their wings (removing the tips from the flight feathers to prevent them from flying away in the future). Then eldest son & I carried them up to the field. It must have been bewildering for them to be confronted by this comparatively huge open space & all of those rather large birds & even larger creatures on 4 legs. We popped them down on the ground & they stood, teetering on their webbed feet, trying to get their bearings & take everything in. A hen approached out of curiosity & caused immediate alarm. Both ducklings puffed their chests out & tried to hiss scarily at the strange feathered monstrosity. It was much bigger than the wild birds who had been their companions in the garden. Unfortunately, this provoked a reaction from a couple of the young chickens, which we suspect may be cockerels, who flew at them causing further alarm. So far, not so good! My heart was sinking like a stone & I wondered if it had been wise to release them at 10 weeks old. Perhaps they should be returned to the garden for a couple more weeks or so. But, of course, that was the selfish devil on my shoulder talking again! The 'cockerels(?)' soon realised the ducklings were harmless & the ducklings soon realised what lush grass was beneath their webbed feet & what a lovely space they had to run, stretch & flap about in. The goats & geese had a quick peer at the new arrivals & quickly assessed that they were puny & of no interest whatsoever. The other ducks tried to say 'hello', but the ducklings played shy & they waddled on by. So it was clear that the ducklings weren't going to come to any harm & on what was a glorious, balmy evening my babies successfully began their new, independent lives. (Yes, I did need those Kleenex!)

Chalk & Cheese suddenly look small in the field!

The ducklings soon look more relaxed

To make the evening completely perfect, wonderful hubby dug me a hole so that we could install the new 'duck pond'. We already have a pond up in the field. It's actually the fish pond that we used to have in the front garden, together with a dozen or so goldfish. When hubby decided he wanted more seating area in our front garden at exactly the same time as our neighbours were looking to stock their newly installed pond it seemed like fate. So the goldfish moved next door & the pond moved up to the field. Unfortunately when the geese plop into it they displace so much water that it makes it quite daunting for the 3 ducks to get into, so they had been giving it a miss & making do with a small tray of water. Shame! I'd been looking for a suitable 'pond' for the ducks for a while when I found what was being advertised as a cattle trough on Ebay for a very reasonable price, so I took a chance & bought it. When it arrived the invoice actually described it as a 'deep plastering & mortar mixing bath'. Cattle trough or mixing bath it proved to be just perfect! Here it is installed, with a submerged breeze block at one end to ensure the ducks can get out easily:

And here it is getting the seal of approval from the geese:

It's deep enough for the ducks to swim in, but shallow enough that the geese don't make such a splash when they get in, so the water stays put.
The ducks soon followed & then the ducklings, so with tears in my eyes I drank in the scene as they swam happily in the new pond & the other animals around them peacefully went about their business & I thought - what a perfect little corner of paradise!

I'm determined to waste many more such precious moments just gazing....

Well this has turned out to be quite a lengthy update, so I'll close here for now & leave the rest of the weekend's event for another posting.

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