This week, the NBC Nightly News ran a video clip of 5,000 ducks being herded down a road in China with only two duck herders in charge.
The ducks carpeted the road, stopping traffic, in an orderly brown flood that was amazing to see. The duck herders looked perfectly relaxed, holding long bamboo poles – casually.
The story reminded me of our own experience herding ducks, which I describe in page 67 of “Just a Couple of Chickens”… my book about our adventures raising poultry in New Mexico.
“(Andrew)…had been studying a picture in our old collection of National Geographic magazines. It showed a child in rural China, about Blue’s age, herding a huge flock of white ducks with nothing more than a long stick…”
It was just the same kind of picture that encouraged me to think that I could herd ducks like a Chinese duck herder. And it did not end well. At all.
“… they stampeded hysterically in every direction. They ran peeping, stumbling, crowding each other, and veering away from us in a panic. Ducks spilled from the doorway and continued, like water, to take the path of least resistance downhill. They poured out of the pen and some went under a tree. The rest headed east very fast, breaking up into smaller duck clots at every bush… “
After that, (and many hours of duck collecting) I came to the conclusion that our ducks were not Chinese ducks. And that Chinese ducks are very different than American ducks. I preferred to think that way rather than conclude that I was not very good at raising ducks.
But as I was marveling over the brown duck flood in China… I found another piece of footage from China. This one was taken by some American tourists driving in the Chinese countryside. They passed a duck herding event that was closer to what I had experienced… and I watched it over and over again.
Soooo… not every piece of news footage coming out of China is showing the real duck deal! Maybe my American ducks were not so very different from Chinese ducks after all!
The duck herding chapter in “Just a Couple of Chickens” can save you a lot of time if you ever need to move your ducks.
Because there comes a day when everyone needs to move their ducks. Or at least get them in a row.