The Cottage Smallholder

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Update on Mrs Boss and the ducklings: Freedom at last

Boss family 2008“The ducklings are enormous; I think we ought to let them out into the big run.” Danny was watching them playing with the water fountain in the grounds of the Emerald Castle.

At only five weeks old they tower over Mrs Boss. It’s getting cramped in the castle. So when I was dusting and sluicing down the dormitory, I opened the castle gates wide. Freddie, Tipex and Eric stood looking out at their next step to freedom. Like so many dreamers, they dithered and remained exactly where they were.

They shot inside the castle when I started raking the gravel in the grounds. Mrs Boss was already there, examining the plump new mattress of wood shavings.

I opened the gates again a little later and an heroic Eric Boss stepped nervously over the threshold, swiftly followed by his brother Freddie – legs rather wide apart with the scariness of the adventure. He hid behind the hen house and observed our flock who were intent on hoovering up the lawn clippings that John Coe had tossed into the run.

Then he joined his brother at the Big Bird water fountain and drank and splashed a bit. Eric nuzzled Freddie. Two ducklings, happy in the sun, enjoying the fizz of freedom.

They must have observed Thunder (our male guinea fowl) from the protected comfort of the castle grounds. When he spotted them and strutted over they rushed away with shrieks. Thunder changed up a gear and accelerated just enough to peck Freddie who nipped into the castle grounds with a loud sonorous cry. Eric joined him and I clanged the gates shut.

The next day I tried again. When I threw open the castle gates Mrs Boss immediately led her posse into the run. She paused briefly on the threshold.

Perhaps it was the flash of the cameras but it was just long enough for Thunder to twig that there were intruders in his run. He challenged Mrs Boss immediately. Although she put up a brave defence, Thunder eventaually won and she scuttled away with her brood.

After a while they all settled into an uneasy truce with the ducks sitting happily on the warm, dry ground. Thunder, the zealous policeman, moved on the ˜castle vagrants’ every now and then.

Meanwhile Mrs Boss attended to her coiffure. Took dust baths and chatted to the rest of the flock.

When I returned from work to a drizzly dusk, the ducklings were sitting outside in the run. I found Mrs Boss perched with Mrs Squeaky Clean in the hen house upstairs dormitory.

She was shifted into the castle grounds with a speed that has only been experienced by the rockets launched from Cape Canaveral. She landed softly and was greeted vociferously by her brood. With a bit of encouragement she led them through the castle gates but Freddie missed a vital turn and ended up the other side of the wire. After pursuing him for several circuits of the castle, I realised that he just couldn’t see the gates so I grabbed him. The shrieks would have woken any baby duckling within a fifty mile radius. Even Mrs Boss popped out her head from the castle to see what was going on.

When I placed him gently on the castle’s gravel drive he whizzed through the portcullis and, judging from the quacking and cheeps, he was warmly welcomed by his siblings.

Although the ducklings and Mrs Boss were safe inside, Thunder strutted forward and stood beside the castle walls. These are constructed of wood and thick, small gauge metal. He ran his beak several times across the netting. A menacing, scary sound. Cage Rattling Ã? la guinea fowl.

Tomorrow, I will open the castle door again armed with a water pistol.

This is a great way of stopping bullying in its tracks. It is a palm held pistol, but a kind one. The best prize from a Christmas cracker that I have ever won. It has worked well with Inca and stops her jumping on the older Min Pins and Great Aunt Daisy Beatyl. Now I just have to raise an unarmed hand and Inca races away

Perhaps it will work with Thunder.

  Leave a reply


  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Pat

    Water pistols are a brilliant way of getting animals to back down!

    Hi Veronica

    They are big! Mrs Boss is tiny compared and under those feathers she is the size of a poussin, I can pick her up with just one hand!

    Hi Sally

    The big run is a scary place but they are gradually finding their feet. They are frightened of Thunder and I’m not surprised.

    Hi Wendy

    At the moment Thunder can’t work out where the water is coming from!

  2. What a wonderful read! I was with you every step of the way! If anyone knows how to sort out the pecking orders it will be you I know.
    The bit about you only having to raise an unarmed hand regarding Inca is so true as she remembers and doesn’t hang around to check for the weapon!

    Wendy x

  3. The bit where his legs were rather wide apart with the scariness- great description.

  4. Veronica

    Wow! They’re huge! Little Mrs Boss must be wondering what on earth she’s hatched 🙂

  5. Awwwww Thanks for the Update Fiona!! It is just like being there and watching their antics. I love my little waterpistols to keep the boys inline too. Jingles used to have a bad habit of biting ankles. That little spritz of water sure does give them a little harmless jolt to change their behavior.

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