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Article by Martin Lunghi (1990)

Genghis Duck Loves Me
 

Genghis Duck Loves Me

Martin Lunghi.

It had never been our intention to keep ducks - it was, in fact the merest foible, the whim of an unguarded moment, that led us to send off for five Aylesburys and subsequently to com­pound this folly by collecting two Mus­cavies and a
Rouen.

Our purpose-built duck house was positioned tastefully beside our pur­pose-dug pond and we nurtured romantic thoughts of daffodils and wil­low trees. But then the ducks never really saw life through our eyes.


Have you ever seen ducks at work? It's frightening - not unlike a hoard of Vikings on their Summer pillage; they move shoulder to shoulder with beaks juddering and stabbing, feet stamping and squishing, systematically up and down in tight formation for hour after hour. It put me in mind of a marsh reclamation scheme in reverse; I mean, you can forget about the daf­fodils.


The pond was suffering a bit too ­-
I'm sure it would have been a familiar sight to any veterans of Passion dale. And the house! Well, they're not house-proud are they - ducks? The word "squalid" doesn't really do jus­tice to it but my natural refinement restrains me from more exacting detail. Let's just say that I wouldn't let my daughter marry one.

They feed by the shovel method and hens can't compete, so we soon
learned to keep them separate. Occa­sionally they would suffer impotent attacks from our cockerel but would simply veer off and then return show­ing no signs of fear or alarm. Once, the cockerel was unwise enough to harass the female Muscovy at which the male Muscovy (built by a designer of tanks with little aesthetic sense) casually kicked the stuffing out of the offending fowl. This turns out to be pretty typical, the hostile duck pinning its victim down with its beak and then raking the body with surprisingly sharp and powerful claws. I've suffered from these claws more than once but people are not sympathetic when you explain that the six-inch slashes in your wrist result from being savaged by a duck!

And their mating habits are simply not for the tender pages of this magazine (Go on, Tell us! Tell us! I hear you say). Suffice it to reveal that cross-breeding can be tricky. The Mus­covies don't cross-breed and keep themselves to themselves and the Aylesburys go in for perfectly normal underwater gang mating. But our Rouen was just sex mad and anything that moved was fair game. Not that I hold this against the wretched creature. I mean, I'm broadminded to the point of obscenity but if you cross a sex-crazed Rouen with big, placid, flightless Aylesburys, you get a sort of monster duck - tough, fast, ruthless, cunning and with this man­iacal compulsion to push forward the frontiers of duck experience, to explore, to multiply, to usurp and dominate!

Candidly, we've started locking the doors at night and we pale and draw each other close at the sound of web­bed feet on the door-step. Sometimes, in the early hours, we hear the muffled sound of massed ducks marching back from night manoeuvres with the fain­test strains of something Wagnerian on the wind.

They have increased their number by a factor of ten in one year and I fear it may be too late to stop what we have so foolishly begun. Questions flood our minds. What was that Rouen really! A freak mutation? Something alien ­not of this world? Something Satanic - Devil Duck!? And what of the next generation? Will they be bigger, more intelligent, indestructible?

For a while I was working on a duck intelligence test which suggested an alarming increase in spatial abilities. It occurred to me then that I might be dealing with a sort of group intelligence and to test this we started giving them away to our neighbours. After all, a trouble shared, and so on. However, the result was nearly always the same. For two or three days we'd be duck-free, a respite broken only by strange sightings of ducks moving steadily over fields and along ditches. And then, there they would be again. Back! There would be no resentment, no recriminations over their brief exile, just that same unblinking primeordeal stare.


It seems they like me and, strangely enough, I like them.

Images associated with this article:-

Genghis Duck
Coll Magazine - Article by Martin Lunghi

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