MY troupe of ducks remind me of old Benny Hill programmes when his cast would run after each other, always in line, but never in a straight line. Contradictory eh? Or is it paradoxical? I’ll have to look it up.

The ducks, however, faithfully stick together at top waddle. I no sooner let them out of their pen in the morning than they set off for the pond. Then at intervals in the day one thought seems to permeate their brains simultaneously. Back they come, each following the duck in front to attack the grain feeders. Ten minutes later their brains coordinate again and they rush back to the pond.

The geese though come out fighting. I have worked out a way of standing to one side of their hut and unlatching the door with a walking stick. Necks held low, simultaneously weaving sinuously and sinisterly while all the time emitting an evil hiss, the seven geese are ready for a fight, with me. They must have guessed my intention of trussing every last one of them up in a large roasting tin and they are going to get me first before I get them.

Gone are the days when they were cute little goslings. Now they harass the hens, hassle the ducks and drive the dogs into a frenzy of frustration. But today I am going to let John run the goose gauntlet.

He came back home last night after a week’s fishing on the Tweed, and being cosseted and looked after by my friend Julia.

He will have a surprise though when he lets the ducks out. Regular visitors to the grain feeder in the paddock have been Mrs Mallard and seven ducklings. They love the small pond we have in the corner of the paddock and share it with our domestic ducks. Through their efforts in fact, what was a tiny pond is now quite a respectable size. The geese have even deigned to visit too, although they do chase the ducks off first. Priorities are jealously guarded in the feathered pecking order.

Just this last week, however, I have not seen Mrs M, plus ducklings. They do cross the lane to another pond, probably where they were hatched, and run the gauntlet of early morning commuters cutting through from the main road. But I did spot a lone duckling a couple of days ago hanging round our domestic gang. He has now joined the frantic waddle into the hut at night, but in the morning, like a fighter pilot guarding ground troops, from gitgo he flies overhead till the ducks reach a safe “landing” at the pond.