Monday, August 10, 2009

• The Runaway Runner Ducks

‘Oh my God the ducks are out,’ I heard my husband cry when he went to tuck the birds up for the night. The search was on.

We looked everywhere and finally found the majority of them hiding under the caravan we have tucked away in a secluded part of the olive grove for holiday rental. (See our website They had taken refuge there away from our dogs.

Unfortunately our two Bernese Mountain Dogs, Berto and Rosa had found the ducks out wandering before we were aware of their escape and had had great fun chasing them around the farm. I felt so bad because it was my fault as when I went to feed them earlier I hadn’t closed the gate to the fox-proof pen properly and the ducks along with the geese had decided to take a walk in search of fresh grass. As you can imagine late at night going in search of runaway ducks was not my husband’s favourite occupation so my name was mud to say the least.

Now ducks are skittish creatures and not that easy to catch, as we went one way, they went the other. We tried a pincer movement but they managed to run between. We rugby tackled but they were faster. We percevered and eventually with scratched knees, grazed elbows and frayed tempers we managed to catch most of them and return them safely to the pen. All that is except four ducks and three geese that ran with them.

We continued to search our land and surrounding plots until our torches died and a cloud covered the moon thus making us have to give up the search. Until, returning along the path back to our caravan I heard a duck quack in the undergrowth on the neighbouring ‘parcella’( small farm). I had a glimpse, in the dark, of Julia’s Indian runner duck that I had been looking after for a few months. On going to investigate the runner made a run for it and a black duck amongst black trees in the dark, without a torch was impossible to see so yet again we had to give up and go to bed with the promise that we’d get up at first light and continue our quest.

Next morning we went back to look in the hope that the foxes had not been active that night but only found a few traces of blood and feathers so we had to assume that all was lost so sadly we returned for breakfast. Losing seven of our precious flock was bad enough but the main problem was how to tell Julia that her beloved black African runner was amongst them. She had only just returned from the UK with a present of a posh lipstick to reward me for taking care of her breeding pair and now the male was gone. I knew I had to apologise unreservedly but should I also return the lipstick?

I was saved the trouble, as she had had to return to the UK so I cheated and broke the news to her husband who then had to pass on the fateful information.

I still have the lipstick as it is not Julia’s colour but I feel I don’t deserve it and each time I use it I think of the poor birds and of Julia that I let down so badly.