Weekly Egg Average: 8 Hen eggs, 0 Duck eggs, 1 Goose egg, 0 Turkey eggs.
How do you view farm life? Do you picture lambs frolicking, calves gamboling and piglets snuffling by their mother’s side? Or do you just imagine an awful lot of slurry and manure?
The image of farm life has been done a great injustice by both the picture perfect children’s book images, and by the modern perception that life on a farm merely encompasses slurry and a slurry tank.
Beatrix Potter in particular had it wrong when it came to the lifestyle habits of farmyard fowl, especially when it came to ducks. She described poor old Jemima as being equipped with a kind of corruptible innocence. Ducks do not have any kind of innocence to speak of; their form of love making has more in common with a Tarantino rape scene than Tarantino will ever want to admit.
Orwell had the right of it when he described the brutality practiced by the animals in ‘Animal Farm’, on each other. He was obviously describing human behaviour, which is why ‘Animal Farm’, better encapsulates animals’ relationships than most children’s books ever will. Animal’s relationships are just as complicated as most human relationships. Ducks will only mix with ducks and geese will only mix with geese, they may share the same shallow pond but never the twain shall meet!
We have recently acquired a Muscovy duck and she has become the social pariah of the farmyard. The other ducks think she’s a weird colour, she doesn’t have a long enough neck to be a goose and she won’t submit to the rather vain cockerel’s grooming routine. On top of all this she is the only member of the fowl community with the ability to fly. I think she may have tried to stage a ‘Chicken Run’-esque escape in the early days of her time with us, but now she’s satisfied with confusing the rooster’s sexual orientation and flying into the back of my head.
She particularly seems to enjoy the resulting fist shaking in her direction as she regards me cooly from her 8 foot perch on the wall above my head. If I was one of Orwell’s pigs then maybe I could find a way to make her toe the line, but I have neither a pack of ferocious dogs or an all consuming desire for ultimate control over all farmyard kind. Instead I’ll content myself with searching for the holy grail; her secret stash of eggs.