Pesky pups thwart duck friendly plan

Coun­try Mat­ters colum­nist Natalie Pit­field does her best to coax ducks to set up a home.

Franklin County News - - COUNTRY MATTERS -

Dur­ing duck hunt­ing season I had joked that we should erect a sign on our life­style block that read, ‘‘Duck Friendly Prop­erty’’.

That way the ducks would know that they could come to our place and be safe.

Some­how I must have been men­tally pro­ject­ing this thought as a pair of ducks came and made them­selves at home.

They were ca­sual vis­i­tors to the small pond my hus­band had built at the bot­tom of our prop­erty.

But when we dug a big­ger pond in the mid­dle of the prop­erty they in­vited some of their friends.

Sub­se­quently we had up to four ducks mak­ing their home with us at any given time.

The only thing that made our place a lit­tle less idyl­lic for ducks were our dogs.

Nei­ther Milo nor Akira are ag­gres­sive but they thought it was great fun to chase the ducks at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity.

I had to ad­mire the tenac­ity of the ducks, though. They would fly off when we were out walk­ing the dogs around the prop­erty. Then they’d fly back once it was safe again.

Mum was out walk­ing the dogs one day and re­alised that the fe­male duck was sur­rounded by about 10 duck­lings! Her ex­cite­ment was im­mense. We knew that if ducks are hatched in a par­tic­u­lar place they will usu­ally re­turn there reg­u­larly. I was also quite ex­cited. We’d talked about po­ten­tially get­ting some pet ducks and hoped they might breed, but it was a plan for the fu­ture.

It seemed that our res­i­dent ducks had used their psy­chic abil­ity yet again and not only known how much we wanted them to make their home on our prop­erty, but also how much we wanted them to breed there too.

Once more, the only ob­sta­cle was our over-cu­ri­ous pup­pies.

Af­ter the day that Mum found the duck­lings I opted to walk down to the pond with her and help train the dogs to leave the duck­lings alone.

Mum’s dog, Freya, was no prob­lem as she was gen­tle and quiet with the ducks. It was just my hooli­gans who were play­ing chasey.

As we walked down we saw Mama duck and I thought I saw some duck­lings with her but when we fi­nally reached the pond she was alone.

I had the dogs on a tan­dem lead so they wouldn’t bother her. She flew off and we looked around the pond but couldn’t see any duck­lings. I won­dered if she had hid­den them some­where.

We walked around and Mama duck stayed nearby, which made me think that she had def­i­nitely stashed her ba­bies some­where.

Over the next few days we walked the dogs morn­ing and af­ter­noon but never saw any duck­lings again.

Mum was re­ally sad as she thought per­haps a hawk or stoat had killed the ba­bies.

But I hoped that Mama duck had been a lit­tle more crafty than that and had man­aged to lead her ba­bies off our prop­erty and to some­where safe from silly dogs who liked to chase things.

Milo the dog cools off in the Natalie’s ‘duck’ pond.

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