And we are up to our ears in boxes. The house is freakishly tidy – in a somewhat chaotic manner (yes, yes – bear with me here) – and I have started washing walls, sills, skirting boards, and ceilings. Everything except furniture is in cartons and much of the day is now spent saying “I need that thing, the one in the box at the bottom of the pile at the back of the downstairs lounge” and the rest of the family diving for cover or yelling “your turn” to the nearest sibling.
Come Friday we will load the trucks and the trailers and head two streets over to the new house in Hawke Crescent and as positive and upbeat as we all have managed to stay during the whole process, today was the day I found the hardest. For today I had to say goodbye to my ducks.
Three years ago I interviewed a breeder of Indian Runner ducks – Lesley – for Rural Living, a lifestyle farming paper I was editing at the time. I fell in love with these cheeky little birds that were really more dog than duck and that used to be referred to as Penguin Ducks because of the way they walk. Indian Runners stand up straight and walk rather than waddle – well actually they run – and they have bright, inquisitive natures. They are not meat ducks but egg layers – laying more eggs than the best hen on the block. They are also extraordinarily loyal to their mates and Lesley had stories that just captured my often flakey imagination.
We had just moved to the Great Urban Ark and had some space and …well….it wasn’t long before I had contacted Lesley and asked if we could get a pair of ducklings. Lesley agreed and a few months later, Miss 11 and I drove over to Lesley’s house and took custody of two tiny bundles of fluff.
We hand reared the ducklings inside for six months, then moved them out of doors, where they began to supply us with eggs for – if you’ll pardon the non-PC cliche – Africa. Since then they’ve brought us a lot of eggs and even more laughter – Indian Runner ducks are real clowns. Having been reared indoors for so long they seemed convinced if they just snuck in the door quietly they would be allowed back in that warm tub of water they knew was there somewhere. The problem was, first up, Scooter and Quackers had no concept of quiet. They announced every movement with much quacking – and did not give a fig if it was sun-up, sun-set or siesta time. So their quacks of “bath, let us at the bath” were usually met with cries of “no poultry in the house, no poultry in the house.”
Today however it all came to an end, when Scooter and Quackers were packed up and sent to live with Paul and his family. You see, we can’t take them to the new house. Ducks aren’t really the kind of pets you can take to a rental property. Besides, the section is too small. So off they went.
And for the first time since the entire ordeal began I cried. I know, they’re ducks. They don’t care who feeds them as long as someone feeds them. But they were MY ducks – I cuddled them in my sweatshirt after their baths, showing them how to preen their downy feathers so the oil they badly needed to spread would do its job. When I came in the gate, or stepped out of the door, they would appear, falling over their webbed feet and jostling to see who might get a treat first. I loved those little guys. Still love those little guys.
Guess I’ll get back to packing now taking comfort in knowing they are, at least, somewhere they will be well cared for.
I shall miss them though.