We have been hit by a crime wave.
The gardaí aren’t interested.
I am devastated.
Christmas time in Mr. Fairweather’s family means card games. Starting Christmas night itself at the family home, for several nights over the holidays we make our way to various siblings’ houses and cards are played into the wee hours of the morning. The Fairweathers are night owls. This has taken some adjustment on my part as I would have considered myself an early bird before meeting Mr. Fairweather. Slowly I have succumbed. I have had to. The cards don’t start till nine or ten o’clock. Last year, one of the nights finished up around quarter past nine in the morning when the nieces came down the stairs looking for breakfast (or so I am told). We didn’t make it to all this year. We aren’t hard-core card players. Besides, we have a toddler in tow now and she doesn’t know about lie-ins after late nights – not really anyway.
After one game in particular, we came back home late. With the weather the way it has been, I have been taking pity on the guard dog and letting her sleep in the house. Occasionally, I have had to turf her out in the middle of the night because of her snoring. But generally it has worked fine. This night however, I forgot that I hadn’t shut the ducks in before we left. We let them free-range during the day. Lately, they have been really good about either waiting at the guard dog’s kennel to be herded down to their pen, or else putting themselves into the pen on their own and waiting to be shut in. This night, they were waiting in the pen to be shut in and I clean forgot about them while trying to get the Little Paddler out of the car and in to the house without waking her. Out of sight, out of mind.
Not out of Mr. Fox’s sight and certainly not out of his mind. At half four in the morning, the guard dog erupted in the house. It sounded like she was going to go through one of the walls. I nearly fell out of the bed. I elbowed Mr. Fairweather in the bed and said, ‘Put her out before she wakes the baby up. It’s a fox.’ Out he stumbled and after half a minute, I heard the guard dog thundering off into the field and baying down in the woods. I fell back asleep.
The next morning the only thing on our minds was the waste water treatment system. We were getting it emptied for the second time in a week. When all was done, the three of us headed back to the house when Mr. Fairweather stopped in his tracks and said, ‘Oh no. Look.’
‘What? What?’ I was looking over at what will soon be our new house thinking what else could possibly go wrong?
‘The white and yellow thing on the ground.’
A duck’s head. And then I remembered last night. We started searching. I was sure I had seen ducks – well one – this morning. We eventually found one traumatised looking duck limping around. She wouldn’t let us anywhere near her. She wouldn’t even quack. We got her back in to the pen where she hunkered down in the duck house and hissed at anyone who went near her. Eventually she started to get out and about but is still quite jittery. During the day she is trying to make pals with the hens and come evening time, she cosies up to the guard dog. I reckon that letting the guard dog out when we did saved this last duck. The other three were not so lucky.
I’m quite upset. We killed Crispy No. 5 the week before Christmas and meant to get around to do the rest but with all the waste water treatment system problems, we just never got the time. At least I know that she died quickly and painlessly. Crispy Nos. 2-4 definitely did not. I don’t know if our one remaining duck is going to get over the shock. I don’t know if I will. But I do know that we are going to have to plan a bigger pen for the next lot of ducks so that they can remain secure with enough room to get their quack on.