Growing up in a small town in England, we were lucky to have our own ducks and chickens. We used to keep them at the bottom of the garden. It was very common for people in our town to have their own ducks and chickens in their backyards. We had a pond for the ducks, and a shed where we locked them all up for the night. The chickens used to peck around all day, and the ducks would usually be sunning themselves after a dip in the pond. They all lived together in harmony, a few feathers were ruffled over food occasionally, but that was all.
The chickens and ducks all had names and had their own personality. The chickens were the regular brown laying hens and they would lay every morning. My sister and I would rush down every morning to grab the eggs. The ducks were Muscovy ducks. They didn’t quack like a regular duck, but they did waddle like a regular duck. They would hiss like a snake and bob their heads back and forth. The ducks were great sitters and would sit forever if you didn’t remove the eggs. We had a duck who sat on chicken eggs, and when the eggs hatched they followed her around like she was their mother.
They were pets, and we loved them. They became very tame and we could pick them up and cuddle them. We had one duck we named Tinkerbell and we were very fond of her. She was mainly white and had such a sweet way about her. I remember when she got old and became ill, we brought her into our house and nursed her till she passed. She would get a warm mash every day, and we had soft blankets for her to rest her tired body.
I have very fond memories of our house and life in Ampthill. My mum was a single mum raising two wild teenage girls. The animals grounded us. We not only had ducks and chickens, we had dogs and ponies too. We were members of our local pony club and went to shows or events most weekends.
All our dogs came from the local SPCA, mutts, the Heinz 57’s, all great dogs. We had one dog called Whisp, who came to us as a cruelty case. She had been left locked up in a shed; she was a walking skeleton, starving for not only food, but also for love.
Whisp was an amazing dog. We fed her up, and she got lots of love. The one thing we could not train out of her was her gluttony. She would jump on counter tops to steal food. She once opened our fridge and ate the cooked Christmas turkey but left the stuffing mind you!
I remember all my friends would be going into town and buying all the newest fashions, I once asked my mum why we couldn’t go out and buy all the newest fads. She turned and asked me if my friends had their own pony, or had all the animals we had. I then realized that we were truly blessed and that I wouldn’t swap our animals for any new fashion item.