Monday, 17 August 2009
Getting All My Ducks In A Row
You know when you start something and then feel obliged to carry on, even if you don't want to?
A bit like when you have some free time one day and you offer to take your elderly neighbour to the supermarket.
Before you know it, she is there, peeping through your curtains at 9am on the dot every Tuesday, saying, "Well as long as it's no trouble..."
Well that's a bit like what is happening on Argy at the moment.
You see I have found this lovely quiet spot on the Grand Union and when I first arrived here it was a real delight to feed the baby ducks. Often the ducks lose many of their young to the evil heron or well, I don't really know what else happens to them, but there are sometimes 6 - 8 in a family to start with and this can dwindle to nil.
It is so sad to see the Mum desperately trying to protect her babies and arriving with one less each day.
So I feel duty bound to feed them and make sure they don't die from starvation at least.
However things seem to have got a little out of hand. Argy seems to have become a renowned 'soup kitchen' for the entire duck population of England. I think there may even be a few asylum seekers in there too, as my research has shown that ducks don't like garlic bread so that may be why they have come 'over here.' A reversal of the usual migration theory.
Anyway it all started innocently enough with me giving them bits of bread that had gone dry, as a loaf can last me a week. No problem of course. Then I started buying duck food but that was a little expensive. Now they will settle for nothing less than Waitrose Farmhouse Multigrain, rejecting anything less for the 13, yes 13! huge carp to feast on, but that is another tale.
Occasionally, if I run out of bread, I put my hands over Mellor's eyes for a minute and throw in a bit of dried cat food, which they will tolerate at a push. If I am later than 6am in getting up in the morning, they peck and tap on the side of the boat until I give in.
it is not just a question of open the hatches and throw either. There is equality to consider. I have received strange looks from passers by when I have been shouting and trying to get the ducks to wait their turn and stop fighting each other. Manners they definitely do not have. It is every duck for himself as they swoop from a great height skimming the surface of the canal, quacking loudly and fighting off the little coot who has a nest in the reeds opposite. He or she is getting quite smart now though and when given the chance will grab some bread and take it back to the nest, head bobbing side to side all the way to check for muggers.
So I am now trying to get Argy listed in the Canals Good Food Guide (for ducks of course).
In the meantime, all this work does have it's payoffs. I am lulling them in to a false sense of security, making friends with them and seeking the perfect recipe for orange sauce ready for Christmas. Only kidding :)