Feathery Bodyguards

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When people ask me about having chickens and ducks in a city backyard, I often advise that--if I had it to do over again--I might skip the ducks and just have chickens.  

The ducks earn their keep egg-wise, but they're so much more messy and destructive.  Just keeping their pool filled and clean in the summer adds a lot of work, and then there's the mud and the fact that they can strip a garden bed of its produce in five minutes flat.

But, they are a bit hardier than the chickens and--as I learned the other afternoon--a bit more aggressive as the need arises.

I happened to be looking out the kitchen window, when I noticed a big orange cat in our backyard.  

*Small rant.*

While I am a fan of cats in general, this one makes me insane.  Someone in the neighborhood is obviously feeding it, but it seems to not really belong to anyone.  It torments Moe constantly--lazing about on our front porch while he helplessly barks at it through the living room window--and then, every so often it comes into our backyard.  

One of the first things we did when we moved into this house was to put up a six foot privacy fence.  A big reason for doing so was to protect the neighborhood from Moe escaping and hurting another dog or cat.  But when the cats come into his yard?  Well, there's not much I can do about that.  So far they've only had tussles, but eventually he's really going to get ahold and the cat will be no more.  I refuse to feel guilty about that--because of the aforementioned six foot privacy fence--however, I'm not looking forward to the clean-up either.

*End of rant.*

So, I saw the cat jump over the fence into the backyard.  It sniffed around a bit, and then began obviously stalking Ingrid.  Tori and Alanis were on the other side of the yard, watching nervously, but not intervening.  I could almost hear their little chicken thought processes, "Nice knowin' ya, Ingrid!"

The ducks, on the other hand, immediately formed a little flying-V and headed for the intruder, beaks forward and quaking at the top of their lungs.  The cat did a sort of double take--looking back and forth between Ingrid and the oncoming ducks, as if weighing its odds--and then quickly bounded back for the top of the fence.  It glanced once over its shoulder just once before scampering away.

Apparently, my ducks aren't just sloppy, grass-destroyers after all--they're also chicken bodyguards.