News >> Baby ducks find new home with War Horse author's charity

Baby ducks find new home with War Horse author's charity

garden team
Tuesday, 27 November, 2018

FOUR Indian Runner ducks raised by the garden team at Schumacher College have moved to their forever home, a charity launched by War Horse author Michael Morpurgo.

The feathered four will be joining other runners, geese and also muscovy ducks at Farms for City Children which offers urban school-children the chance to learn about country life.

Mike Tweddell, farm manager (pictured right) at the charity in Iddesleigh, Devon, said the ducks, like all the animals at the farm, are playing a vital role in educating young people about how food is grown and produced.

"Because they live in cities, some of these children just don’t get the chance to see farm animals and they don’t really understand where food comes from. I have even been asked which cows give skimmed milk!"

“The runner ducks are always popular with the children because they’re so funny, so we’re happy to have more.   The kids love letting them out in morning just so they can see them run down the field.”

Children from inner-city schools come and stay at Nethercott House for a week and learn how to care for the pigs, horses and poultry; how to grow vegetables and most importantly how to manage without technology.

“Sometimes you will get a couple on the first night who say they miss their X-box – but they never mention it after that,” said Mike.  “They’re too busy or too tired after a long day outside!”

Schumacher ecological horticulture interns Janette Hornby and Hannah Smith (pictured centre) took the ducks up to their new home and were given a tour around the site which is run on organic principles. The team also works in partnership with neighbouring dairy, beef and sheep farmers.

“We’re really sad to see our ducks go,” said Hannah “but they’re all males and we have to make sure that we look after the balance of our flock back at the College.  We’re glad they’ve gone to such a good home – we think the charity is a brilliant idea.  I think it’s so important that children learn more about how food is grown. We look forward to sharing knowledge with them in future.”

The four runners were from a large brood of 11, one of whom was initially rejected and so was hand-reared for the first couple of weeks by the Schumacher garden team.  They soon realised that Geraldine was in fact Gerald and he has become a favourite with staff and students at the College.

Farms for City Children was started by the children's writer almost 45 years ago and has two other sites in Wales and Gloucester.  Michael Morpurgo has written over 120 books, he was children's laureate from 2003 to 2005 and received an OBE in 2006. Nethercott House is in an area, north of Okehampton, which has now become known as War Horse Valley after the successful, book, play and subsequent film by Steven Spielberg.