They started off as cute fluffy ducklings, as all ducklings do. These little bundles of maximum cuteness were a delight for the eyes, and time watching them was not time wasted.
Then they grew up and terrorised the neighbourhood.
Okay, that last bit was an irresistible rhetorical flourish, but they did end up being unexpectedly clever escape artists and troublemakers.
When a friend of my sister’s bantam got clucky, some fertile eggs were bought for the bantam to sit on. For whatever reason, she chose Khaki Campbell duck eggs, and four khaki brown ducklings hatched in due course. Khaki Campbells are sizeable ducks, and in two weeks they were almost half the size of the bantam. Seeing as the bantam and my sister’s friend lived in a small flat with just a small amount of ground, it was clear that the gang of four needed more room, so my sister took them. I’m not sure if the bantam pined, or was glad for the peace and quiet again.
Sis #2 and her husband live on a lifestyle property dedicated to doing nothing but giving them the pleasure of living there. She also does cat and kitten rescue, and often has feline beasties at home to socialise and re-home when ready. Animals have always been a part of their lives, so it seemed that four ducklings which would grow into ducks would be no bother on four hectares (ten acres) in the country.
How little they knew.
Turns out the ducks were damn clever cookies. They could spot an opportunity for trouble a mile away, and – their eyesight being dynamite – could spot when the coast was clear again to come back and make more trouble after they’d been chased away from whatever trouble they’d been causing. They stripped the tomato plants and the mint, and shat them all over the deck. When they weren’t stripping plants, they were glued to the deck where shitting and shagging between naps were their main forms of entertainment. Although they had a pool, the water in the dog’s water bowl never survived more than a few seconds of clarity before the four thugs turned it brown.
Of the four, one – John – was a drake. The other three ducks had names, too, but seeing as there was not one physically distinguishing feature amongst them, they shared their names until personalities and behaviours began to distinguish them. Although John felt it was his duty to shag the ducks as much as possible, sis #2 and husband decided that adding to the already terrible tribe was not desirable, so interrupted John’s ministrations to the ducks as much as possible. The interruptions didn’t dampen John’s ardour in the least.
One day sis #2 and husband came home from work and discovered that the ducks had found the cat door into the house while they’d been away. On that day the deck was relatively clear of shit, because it was all over the floor in the lounge-kitchen-dining area. Mixed in with it was a whole duvet of feathers, just from the normal shedding of feathers that ducks do. The cat door got locked after that, but from time to time the gang could be seen checking it out to see if they could get in again.
Eventually, it was decided that an enclosure would have to be built for them, and $800 was spent on fencing which proved to merely be an interesting addition to the ducks’ day. If they didn’t fly over the top of the fence, they found – or made – a gap to go under it. The only other option was to clip their wings, which sis #2 and husband were reluctant to do, or release them onto a river.
The decision was made to release them. A spot was chosen which was part wild area, part picnic area, and the four were taken to their new life. It was with some trepidation, it must be said, as there was no way of knowing how the release would go, or if this was the right thing to do for the gang. After a few false starts, and a little bit of guidance once there, the four found the river – and were ecstatic. The joy and pleasure they showed in it was unmistakeable. Sis #2 and husband went back the next day to check on them, and the ducks completely ignored them. Clearly, they were foraging for food okay, as there was no rush to the humans for some. After a few days, they were checked on again, but had moved on from that place.
One day, I expect that there may be several little Khaki Campbell’s spotted bobbing along that river, if John keeps doing his favourite job beginning with ‘sh’, after his other favourite job beginning with ‘sh’ 😊
PS: I wanted to show a video of the ducks being released onto the river, but can’t upload it here (a message popped up to say that the kind of file isn’t supported)