Tuesday, 11 March 2014
Took the above photo of an odd, man made water feature on Sunday morning from the edge of a Churchyard a couple of miles from Highdale. About a hundred yards to the right of the photo is the village Manor House. It's always fascinated me. It is very obviously a man-made long pond, fed from the left by a small stream, and draining into another long pond which you can probably see if you enlarge this picture above the artificial pond/lake. It has a horseshoe shaped small island in the centre. Anyway - on Sunday I suddenly realised what it was originally made for, and later confirmed my guess with a friend who studies local history. It's an old duck decoy, and I should (as a Norfolk fenman by origin) have realised that when I first saw it.
It would have been used with a long wickerwork or net funnel shaped tunnel, in the water leading up to the mouth of the horseshoe shaped small island, which, in turn would had been covered by a netting cage. It would have been used with a small reddish (or gingery) specially trained dog, which ducks always mob, suspecting it of being a fox, who would have led the ducks into the tunnel and eventually into the cage, the dog staying just outside the netting all the time. When all were inside the cage would have been sealed off with further netting, and the ducks would have had their necks rung. I wonder if anyone remembers the old song, the chorus of which goes "Dilly dilly. Dilly dilly. Come and be killed. For you must be stuffed, and my customers be filled."
If this all sounds a bit barbaric, only vegetarians and vegans have any real right to object. The ducks involved would probably have had a better, and more natural life than almost any creatures reared for human consumption today.
Good Night All.