helen redfern

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Welcome to my online journal where I write about writing, creativity, building an online business, baking, reading and chicken & duck-keeping.

My Stories || Indian Runner Ducks

My Stories || Indian Runner Ducks

indian runner ducks

Walking out the back door with my wellies on I wondered how much exercise the ducks would make me do tonight. You see, every evening me and the ducks have this little 'exercise' routine. I try and get the ducks into their run. They, in turn, will run and flap about everywhere but into their run.

Hatched earlier this year to a chicken, Wincey, it used to be easy to get them in to bed at night - because they just followed their mum. Chickens are sensible. They know what to do just before dusk settles over the landscape. Before the beasties start prowling about, looking for prey.

But the ducks? They would run into the foxes mouth sooner than coming towards me.

I've tried various methods. I've moved their run and attached house so it's closer to the main chicken run. That way there are barriers forcing the ducks to only go a certain way.

Of course, this didn't always work. Ducks are slippery little things and can get through spaces you don't anticipate. And I have to regularly move the run and house because ducks make a right mess of the grass.

And then I've physically made a kind of funnel with some spare fencing. Again this only works if the fencing stays upright. If it happens to fall down whilst you're encouraging the ducks into their run then you end up with startled quacks and duck feet running in the opposite direction.

Every evening I could be out there, running about, lifting heavy fencing, for about twenty minutes. I'd come back indoors and my family would look at me. 'You alright?' they'd ask, peering at my flushed and sweaty face. 'Putting ducks to bed,' I'd reply, grumpily, sitting down and waiting for one of them to put a drink into my outstretched hand.

The following night my husband or children would pop out to help me. And do you know what those cunning ducks did? Why, yes, they went into their run just like that. Six in a row. Straight into their house. No fuss. No drama.

And the following night when I'm on my own again? That's right, you guessed it. Twenty minutes of fun and games.

So, I'm training DogFace to get the ducks to bed for me. I've heard ducks can be herded by dogs. Whether they can be herded by DogFace I don't know; she is what my son calls 'a lounge dog' rather than the highly trained gun dogs that are in her family tree.

The first time we tried it, I swear I thought DogFace was going to catch one in her mouth. Like she does with the pigeons. She was just a little bit too keen. 

Round and round the chicken run the dog and ducks would go. One duck getting stuck in some nettles so I had to fetch her out (leading to lots of stings for me) and another duck not knowing which way to go once he'd got behind a wooden chair. But one by one they went in to their run either by themselves or after being scooped up by myself. [Incidentally ducks are so lovely to hold - so soft. But they do tend to relieve themselves down your clothes.]

After a good few days of training the dog, with lots of shouting (me) and lots of disobeying (DogFace) a few weeks ago we had a result. The ducks had taken themselves into a run and house before I'd even got my wellies on. A pity it wasn't their house but the new chickens' house. But it was progress of sorts.

The recent clock change and a return to the school run means they now have to go in earlier. Otherwise they could be snaffled by a fox before I get home. So yesterday afternoon I managed to get five ducks to go in. One decided, at the last minute, to make a right turn and avoid the opening. But DogFace was on it. She trotted after her, got her into a few dead ends, but eventually gently encouraged her into the run. 

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My Stories are snippets of my thoughts as I pull together the first draft of my memoir.

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