Nice weather for ducks (441 days to go)
by Max Akroyd
An extra-early start today in order to get the animals fed and the barns mucked out, ready for the arrival of the ducks and the departure of the piglets. Reflecting this watershed moment, the morning had a completely different texture to it: mild and very damp. There’s suddenly no need to brace oneself before stepping out, weather-wise anyhow…
The saga of the piglets, which began as my biggest surprise in years, is finally drawing to a close. Four mini-sows are happily installed in the cow stall next to big pig, getting acquainted with their future sty-mate – mainly by giddying about in front of her if she deigns to stick her snout through the separating gate. Two more await collection by a local farmer as payment for a large bale of hay. Three boars and one sow went this morning in return for the fowl. I felt a pang of regret as I shut the door on their new owner’s van, confusion on their trusting faces, but you do get inured to such things. Mostly.
On a happier note, the ducks are a lovely addition to our live stock. They’re understandably a bit nervous of us at present, but compared to ten rumbustious piglets, they’re a stroll waddle in the park. Rather embarassingly, I spontaneously started making quacking noises in reply to their gentle calls.
I instantly realised that these svelte creatures could have conceivably squeezed through three of four gaps in their enclosure, so spent much of the morning making good gates and fences. The guinea fowl, who seem immune to electric fences and now roam freely around the place by day, were most put out by these imposters and proceeded to shout at them all morning.
The duck’s arrival has also caused my assotment of strange tables used for hardening off seedlings to be displaced (stuff like this always happens when anything changes around here) so I set them up elsewhere. This walking to and fro with pots got me conclusively soaked to the skin. I can take a hint, and will spend this afternoon ‘planning’ things like sowing. It may look like I’ve fallen asleep on the settee but I will in fact be meditating. Honest.