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Thursday, 23 May 2013

R.I.P. Mr Walters

Sadly our original duck, Mr Walters died to-day.
 He was eight years old - a good age for a duck. He had turned almost completely white, his sight was going and I think he had gone deaf because he didn't seem to hear me so well.  But he remained courteous to his harem right to the end, always holding back to let them eat first and making sure they went into the duck house before him. He was very chivalrous and I think he kept a sword tucked under his wing. In spite of the non-fertilisation of this last batch of eggs, he fathered many, many ducks and we still have one of his daughters. His children have gone far and wide - to Devon, Downton and Down the road - and they too have had children so he started a magnificent dynasty. Unfortunately however, three of them were taken by the fox one night from the front garden before they retired to their beds. There was just a feather left. It was as if they had been air lifted out. Perhaps the fox had swung down from the trees or  absailed in, swooping them all up in his jaws and flying off with them.
Originally I got the ducks to eat all the slugs in the poly tunnel area - ducks are great for this and unlike chickens don't scratch plants up with their claws because they have webbed feet. Also because they are Indian runners and not like normal ducks it is not so necessary for them to have a big supply of water. They are happy in a paddling pool or in Mr Walter's and his female companions' case - a long, shallow developing tank I got from a photographic studio. The other bonus is that they are very funny to watch. They look like coloured wine bottles running along behind each other.

Mr Walters with a sword tucked firmly under his wing whilst the other ducks just had plant labels.

So there are going to have to be some changes. I think the girls are going to feel lost without their protector so I think I will split up the Sumo wrestling ducks and let the black male(not unlike Mr Walter's as a younger duck}visit them and give the white male in the back garden his very own white female from the girl's department. I think that will make them all very happy indeed. Of course it does mean I'll never find the eggs in the back garden but someone will. And it might put an end to being chased around the garden with the backs of my legs being pecked.
Mr Walters and his first wife Mrs Walters.

 Apart from the decline in my duck numbers there is a huge decline in British wildlife species too. Changing habitats and agricultural practices have helped in the decline of hedgehogs, butterflies and moths as well as numerous other species. We must do something! They are all disappearing before our eyes.
Here is part of a poem by Paula Meehan called

Death of a Field

The field itself is lost the morning it becomes a site
When the Notice goes up: Fingal County Council - 44 houses

The memory of the field is lost with the loss of its herbs

Though the woodpigeons in the willow
And the finches in what's left of the hawthorn hedge
And the wagtail in the elder
Sing on their hungry summer song

The magpies sound like flying castanets

And the memory of the field disappears with the flora:
Who can know the yearning of yarrow
Or the plight of the scarlet pimpernel
Whose true colour is orange?

And the end of the field is the end of the hidey holes
Where first smokes, first tokes, first gropes
Were had to the scentless mayweed

The end of the field as we know it is the start of the estate
The site to be planted with houses each two or three bedroom
Nest of sorrow and chemical, cargo of joy

Who amongst us is able to number the end of grasses
To number the losses of each seeding head?
I'll walk out once
Barefoot under the moon to know the field
Through the soles of my feet to hear
The myriad leaf lives green and singing
The million million cycles of being in wing

That - before the field becomes solely map memory
In some archive of some architect's screen
I might possess it or it possess me
Through its night dew, its moon white caul
Its slick and shine and prolifigacy
In every wingbeat in every beat of time

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