Those dastardly ducks

Its been eventful again today…. These two here are our runner ducks. I was trying to take a photograph of them today and they escaped !!  And there was only me to try to get them back into their enclosure. Before you think how awful it is to have them enclosed, read on. 
Last year when we had a rainy summer, I was exasperated with the voracity of the slugs and snails here. We have very rich soil and a stream at the bottom of the potager, and they just decimated four huge long rows of our local mojhette plants, all courgette plants, cucumber plants and were having a go at the potato plants.  I was desperate for some runner ducks, as they eat snails and slugs, but no plants. Finally I found a breeder the other side of Bordeaux, and she said she would reserve two couples for early summer. .  I drove down on one of those heatwave days in June, and I can tell you that having four ducks in the rear in a cardboard box is one of the foulest smelling things you can do. They were nervous, so were letting off steam… and everything they could from their rear ends. 
We had worked out how to fence off the potager so that they were just in the parts with the veggies.  We lined up to herd them down but they shot off between our legs and headed straight for Dom’s wild patch of garden.  It must have taken us an hour to get them out of there, and into the potager. Well they discovered the stream.  True they had escaped the fencing, but it was fun to see them enjoying the water.  However…. Absolutely impossible to catch them again. So the days went by, and they seemed to be ok.  Until the day one went missing. And the day after that another one went missing. We tried to herd them back, but they had the wild thicket of our ‘left for biodiversity field’, the other side of the stream, and Dom’s wild area, to hide in. Luckily Monty had four friends from his college to stay, and we went off in a cordon.  It was a searingly hot day, and storming forwards and backwards through the undergrowth, through nettles and reeds was impossible. They found the carcass of one of the males. And then another carcass.  Finally they caught one of the survivors.  And later after they had given up and gone up, I caught the last one. It had hidden in a thick patch of reeds, and thought I could not see it, so I held down the reeds, and it could not escape my clutches.   Everyone was very hot and bothered. 
Thats why they live in an enclosure now. I have to say that they are remarkably obtuse. I would like to say ‘stupid’, but they just think ‘runner duck’. I plan to make harnesses for next spring, to allow them to enjoy the spring slugs.


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