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Sadly we have lost Charlie Drake

Duck_001 This morning started extremely cold again with a very hard frost overnight. With clear skies all night this morning temperatures were in the region of -2 or -3.

The scene was of a winter wonderland as I walked down at dawn with Hector and a jug of Maize to feed the Puddleducks but as I approached I sensed something was up and sure enough I could only count 5 ducks swimming on the pond.

The drake who we had nicknamed Charlie (OK it seemed a good idea at the time) was not to be seen.

Duck_003 There was not any evidence of feathers so I assumed a fox had come in quickly and taken him by surprise and run off to devour its takings.

I walked around the edge and sadly I found Charlie lying in the long grass on his belly. He was still alive but wet and looking extremely dozy.

I threw the maize to the others and ran back to the house and dried Charlie off in the warm kitchen. Donna and I wrapped him in towels. Initially he perked up but it soon became apparent that he was not going to make it.

Charlie We thought it was strange yesterday that he was spending a lot of time on the bank but assumed he was being protective of his hens and keeping lookout.

I did some reseacrh on Google this morning and I found this site on duck diseases which explains that ducks can get a condition called wet feathers.

Basically it means that they cannot produce any oil from the gland in which to coat and waterproof their feathers properly so he basically got too wet and the body temperature plummeted.

It is a severe lesson learnt on how to loo after them and we will certainly be vigilant in the future.

Deer_2  The maize that they are being fed to suppliment the natural food in and around the pond helps them create fat. Maize is force fed to the Barbary duck by farmers to produce Foie Gras (fatty liver) and the resulting meat which is preserved in its own fat is Confit de Canard.

I suppose it underlines the reality of nature and this is something that probably happens in the wild all of the time yet we do not get to see or hear about it as the fox clears up the evidence.

I also noticed today that only one of our resident deer walked through our field and today is Chasse day. I am hoping that he had only been split up from the other two and they had not been shot.

Duck_013Back to work later though and now all the internal walls are completed it was time to take down the internal wall that historically formed the prune oven.

Just as I found with the majority of the old walls they are built with stone, mud and old tiles but were extremely strong. These old French houses only tend to fall into dis repair if a roof fails and water is able to penetrate the mud over a period of time. All the time the water is not allowed in they are as good as the day they were built.