Have you ever wondered what happened to the five little ducks who went swimming one day, over the hill and far away? Or even how that Mummy duck felt when finally only one little duck came back? No. I haven’t either. Until now that is. I now know that two of those goddamn little ducks ended up in our garage.
Several weeks ago, I have lost track of exactly how many (and it is definitely too many), two ducklings were spotted squeaking and waddling their way across our drive at surprising speed until we realised that the cat was in hot pursuit. The cat had already caught a couple of mice that morning and rather than allow these cutie-wutie ducklings to suffer the same unfortunate fate as our furry rodent friends Steve and I caught the cat before catching the ducklings and putting them into a box.
Then we looked at each other and thought – well what the hell do we do now!?!? Let me make this clear, having two ducklings running across our drive is not an every day occurrence. Surprising that may be, but that’s just the way it is. I’ll tell you what we did next which may, or may not have been a wise move. We went and collected the children from school. The consequence of this rather rash move was that of course we ended up keeping the ducklings. I mean what 9 and 11 year olds would resist the cutie-wutie fluffy cutie ducklings (did I mention that they were REALLY cute?!?).
To be honest we set out making it very clear that we would only look after the ducklings over night to ensure that they weren’t made off with by some naughty predator (ahem, Coconut). However one night turned into one weekend after we spent time trying to find a mother duck or perhaps an abandoned nest or even, if we were lucky other ducklings. Then the weekend turned into one week and before you could say quack (which the ducklings couldn’t) we still had them a month later, one called Willow and the other named Doreen! Now though, they had progressed from the box to a ship shaped(!) raised flower bed (obvs with no soil/plants in it) with a plastic box for a pond and being brought into the garage every evening because it was still a bit chilly.
Oh my God, the things we somehow get ourselves in to!
Another couple of weeks on and the ducks (note, ducks, not ducklings!) have gone through the scrawny, moult-y phase whilst their baby feathers fell out and the beautiful adult feathers developed. They have the most lovely speckled brown feathers with stripes of white and blue at the ends of their wings – J’s observation on these gorgeous colours was typical as: “they look like they support Bath Rugby Club Mummy.” Oh and preening, by the way, is a fascinating practise. If you ever have a stressed out day I can fully recommend watching a couple of ducks preening themselves to help you find your zen again. Anyway, Willow and Doreen have also gone through the rather amusing adolescent breaking voice phase having spent a couple of weeks alternately sounding as though they had been smoking 40 a day for 20 years intermingled with a high pitched squeak similar to that of a rusty gate.
We figured that perhaps the ducklings shouldn’t be re-aquainted with The Wild until their adult feathers had finished appearing as then we knew that they would be able to fly and would thereby be able to escape from any naughty predator. I hope that we have done the right thing as this has now occurred. Oh and one other thing we haven’t handled them apart from during the first couple of weeks to get them into the box and out of the raised bed. They got so distressed we quickly cottoned onto the fact it wasn’t fair and wasn’t to be done. They are wild birds after all!
This weekend we shall be taking Willow and Doreen to our nearest waterway (a small ford which has the honour of being the connected to the source of the River Chew yes the River of The Chew Valley fame) and setting them free.
We shall miss Willow and Doreen, they have an uncanny knack of making you believe they have understood your very soul. It’s the way they put their head on one side and just look at you for an unsettling amount of time before slowly blinking and turning away.
With luck our two little ducks will find their way over the hills and far away and back to that poor Mummy Duck.