My boyhood, Okuti farmyard housed a small menagerie. As well as the ever-present dogs, there were pet lambs in season, chooks, geese, turkeys and ducks. Dick, my stepfather, built a small concrete dam across the small creek that ran past the house to provide a pool for our ducks and geese.
Princess Grace*, our sow (so christened by Dick because of her outstanding beauty - she was the ugliest pig ever seen), used to wallow in it. She developed a game of lying still, only snout and eyes showing, while the ducks or geese settled. With a snort she'd jump up, sending the birds flying in panic, her pig-eyes gleaming in triumph. She'd settle down, they'd return, and the whole performance would be repeated. Ducks are slow learners. No – I take that back. The pool in the Botanic Gardens is always crowded during duck-shooting.
There were turkeys and bantams as well as chooks. As the ducks don’t brood that well, Mum put their eggs under the bantams. The little hens strutted round followed by a gaggle of awkward looking youngsters tangling over their feet chasing flies. Sooner or later the ducklings would discover the pond and paddle away, leaving their mother frantic on the bank. Once Princess Grace startled the ducklings. The mother bantam stormed across into the water right into the pig's face. Astounded, the sow gave ground. We had to rescue the bedraggled hen.
* Famous actress Grace Kelly married the Crown Prince of Monaco.
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