Ten years ago when we moved to this wonderful house, my youngest son and I bought five ducklings from the local market. The idea was to give them a wonderful life whilst fattening them up and then dispatch them to the freezer and, ultimately, the pot. They were very sweet and fun to have around, mostly for everyone else as I spent a large amount of the summer, when the kitchen door is permanently open, clearing up duck mess in the kitchen. Finally I had enough and decided that they had outstayed their welcome and were in danger of out growing the freezer. I went to get the knife.
But I hadn't reckoned on my youngest son, then aged five.
Son: You can't kill that one!
Me: Really, why not?
Son: He's Donald. He's nice.
Me: Fine, we can keep Donald but I have to deal with the rest of them.
Son: But you can't! They're ALL Donald!
Of course, by this time there were tears of desperation and seeing a whole series of nightmares and trauma I acted as Judge and Jury and all five Donalds were reprieved.
The five Donalds continued to enjoy living here although their diet was changed from grain (bought and paid for) to bread (left over from yesterday). But they didn't starve and they enjoyed waddling around the garden and in the field, and of course swimming on the water. Time gradually caught up with them and over the course of about four years three succumbed to old age. The first was given a proper burial and a cross was duly made by the now seven year old son. The other two bodies were dealt with whilst he was at school.
And so we were left with two. They grew and grew, they got older, one began to limp slightly. But every morning they would be sitting on the drive daring us to run them over before doing a loud quacking run for it. Every year in the two weeks before Christmas I would have to hide the stale bread so that it could be used for bread sauce and not for feeding ducks but gradually my hiding places were all discovered leaving me wondering if bread sauce was truly necessary (YES, shouted the family not seeming to understand the cause and effect of feeding the bread to the ducks).
And that brings us to yesterday morning when I went out for a run having previously hidden the bread. The moat has ice 8cms thick and once again it was a beautiful frosty morning. But all was apparently not well. An hour later I came back to be told that murder had been committed and a duck decapitated and left lying on the ice in the middle of the moat. A second one was found on the bank. Sure enough, feathers were everywhere - the poor things had clearly put up a fight. An investigation was required but in order to get to the scene of the crime in the little boat the ice had to be broken - and all clues destroyed. Youngest son, now aged fourteen, was of course thrilled to be part of the forensic team investigating the, er, well, let's just say the remains although not much was discovered.
Eldest son decided to look for a motive and walked into the kitchen as I was preparing the dinner: duck a l'orange. Hmmm. Husband came into the kitchen whilst I was making breadcrumbs....more Hmmmm. The dogs were questionned, their mouths examined - although as they all sleep either in the house or in a closed kennel I think this was an act of desperation on the part of the detectives. The bodies were put on the bonfire at the bottom of the field and the case was put on hold.
Finally, this morning the culprit was found. Whilst walking the dogs husband discovered that the bodies had been removed! He followed the trail of feathers across the field, over the fence, through the hedge (one feather stuck on a bramble) and finally found a whole mass of feathers at the mouth of a foxhole. Not such a surprise really although it's strange he's waited ten years to take them. I prefer to think that at previous attempts, despite their old age, they were able to out-fox the fox by waddling rapidly into the moat and only failed this time because of the ice.
The following pictures are quite safe for the faint hearted and simply show the frost which is truly beautiful this morning!
And another of the sun coming through the fir trees.