Duck came into our lives on Sunday 1st June. There was a scuffle in the corner of the kitchen where we keep our trays and instead of the expected mouse, a small brown and yellow ball of fluff waddled out on oversized webbed feet, peep-peeping like a thing possessed. It is a noise that has become the fabric of my daily life. As has taking Duck for walks up the stream, digging for worms along the way, and watching her paddle around, ducking and diving (if you'll excuse the pun), all activities accompanied by the constant peep-peep escalating rapidly to a panicky screech whenever she thinks she's lost or been abandoned.
She was about two weeks old when she was first scuffling around the kitchen, dangerously close to the Aga (and becoming crispy duck) and the cat who seems strangely indifferent to her presence given she is the most likely reason Duck was in the kitchen in the first place. We think she came from an 11 duckling brood down the lane but by the time we found this out we were advised by a duck-rearing friend (and grand-daughter of the lady who has the brood in her herbaceous border) that it would not be a good idea to return ours to the family as the mother duck would likely be aggressive to it even after just a day or two's absence. So L got her wish and Duck became part of the family.
In the intervening three weeks Duck has at least tripled in size and has progressed from her world existing in a large plastic storage box to the dog's travel cage and beyond. She gorges on duck crumb and earthworms and lots of other bits and pieces of insect and vegetation that she finds on her forages around the garden. She is just starting to develop proper feathers on her wings (they, appeared practically overnight) and she has a rather scrappier looking set of tail feathers of which she is remarkably proud. We are all pathetically in love with her despite her being the embodiment of the phrase 'mucky duck'. I have had to find time in my life for regular cleaning and discenfecting of cage (about 5 times a day), together with bathing, feeding and play routines. It has been like having a baby and toddler in quick succession and it will be a few weeks yet before she will be independent. She has already had a 'holiday' down with our duck-raising friend's ducklings and will be down there again when we are away in a week's time. It seemed to go off well enough and she appeared to be unfazed and happy to be back with us again too. I am trying to raise Duck to be adaptable. She seems happy in anyone's company - including the cat and dog's - and settles down quietly by herself for the night too. When the lights go out she knows it's time for bed.
I have recently invested in a duck house (greatly daring as the last time I purchased a home for a rescued wild feathered friend it promptly died - remember the story of Bird?). It is actually billed by Pets At Home, from whence its provenance, as a Guinea Pig Mansion but it seemed to have the right credentials for ducks too. It was an ex-display, now discontinued model going cheap but we had to employ a friend with a van to get the bloody thing home having failed to get it into a car of our own.
My plan is for Duck to move into it on a permanent basis outside when she is ready and to allow her to potter around the garden at her leisure. If she decides to fly the nest then so be it. She may return she may not. Ultimately she will have to take her chances in life. In the meantime it has been a pleasure giving her a loving start - but how the tale will end has not yet been written. Indeed, it may turn out she's not a She after all, but on the basis of all her endless chat this has been my best guess so far as males are apparently notably quieter (in ducks as in humans so it would seem!). Time will tell.
5 weeks old and making herself at home (still not scared by proximity to oven!)
Sitting by me in the kitchen as I write, some water always nearby to dip her bill into.