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Old Cows can learn New Tricks

Dawn Patrol

Dawn Patrol

I have a geriatric break in.

The gate between the yard and the hay shed has been forced. The elderly culprits are now sat in the long grass, panting with the effort of it all.
Flora and Morag (and their curly haired babies )have followed the sound of the quad bike’s motor (a cue to feeding learned over many long winters). Arrived at the yard where I had filled the water tank they have leaned on the too casually latched gate. Here they find access to the shed, the hay stored in it, a pallet of fragile photovoltaic panels and various items that have nothing to gain from the two lumbering intruders. O- and the remains of a ton of cattle nuts- relic of last winter used now to lure animals for handling.

The bag is now resting against the hay bales – empty.

It is no disaster – the mice were getting as much benefit as any (judging by the smell) – but it has been good recently –

-for the ducklings.

Mrs Duck has produced a second brood now that the sinister gang of mallard drakes has abandoned the farm pond, and has virtually taken up residence at the shed, place of plenty.
When I appear for the water a draggle of ducklings hauls itself like a string of soft furry pearls from the innards of the large white tote bag containing the barley based concentrate.

The aged felons need to be evicted. The crime may be done, but there are further acts of vandalism to avoid.

I enlist help – sort of.

Guy and his family are in the bunkhouse for four nights. Little Olivia announced – on arrival no less- that she wanted out to see the cows. I invite the family along to assist, taking Olivia and her sister Maia inside the compound where the cows are laying up – digesting the fruits of crime. I manage the risk – mostly for for the benefit of protective parents Guy and Bernie it has to be said- the girls walking behind me.
Old white Morag lurches to her feet:

‘Don’t move – let her make up her own mind about what she wants to do. We just place ourselves in such a way that it’ll be what we want too.!
Sure enough the old girl turns like a tanker and hobbles out of the yard.

‘Look, look – Mrs Duck is up at the shed!’

No - I'm hiding nothing!

No – I’m hiding nothing!

The female Mallard is stationary, watching. Her lower body untidy and puffed out like the petticoats of a governess surprised by a seaside gust.

A movement below resolves itself as a a small striped head extends beyond the sheltering plumage and waddles towards the rear of the haystack.

Risk managed – for now.

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