Baby duckling Hubert is devastated to learn that he can’t swim. But maybe there are other things he can do to make his place on the farm. Like solving the mystery of who is stealing food from all of the other farm animals!
If you were to go for a walk
in the countryside on an ordinary day
and out of the corner of your eye you
might notice a little pathway.
If you were to go down this pathway where
the trees salute you as you go by,
you’d find at the end a
cottage and a pigsty.
Next to this ordinary cottage
towards your right
you would see a rustic barn and
yes it was a sight.
Then in the distance away from all else
you would see a small pond all by itself.
This would be Hugsford,
a rather happy place
where everyone welcomes you
with a smiling face.
This is where our story begins …
One day, on the farm in Hugsford, a mother duck had just laid three eggs. Her name was Daisy, and this was her first time being a mother. Daisy lived in the barn next to a large stack of hay. Next to this was two stables, one for a rather large bull called Mr. Danton and the other was for a horse called Mr. Pepper. There were a couple of sheep that would stray into the barn when it got cold or wet outside, but usually they would be roaming around the cottage.
Outside the barn was a medium size pigsty where Mrs. Porky lived and on the other side was a very bright chicken coop. Then there was a rather tatty Billy goat whose name was Geoffrey. A rather unusual name, but he had been bought from some travellers years past and seemed to only respond to this name when called. So, the humans on the farm thought it was rather cute and kept it. (I like to think it made Geoffrey feel special.)
Then down a little pathway was a pond, which was surrounded by reeds and all sorts of wonderful creatures who would gather there. In the middle of the pond was an island which was a very special place, for every year since Daisy could remember a white swan would visit. She was the most beautiful swan you had ever seen and the fact that on the top of her head was a golden ring made the farm animals feel that she was of true royalty.
Daisy began her watch, making sure her children were warm, and only left them under the care of her best friend, Elsa, another duck who had already watched her own children grow up.
Daisy would read to her children and gently move them from time to time. While she waited for them to hatch, she began to think of names for them.
She wondered if they might be all girls. If so, then they would all need girls’ names. But what if they were all boys? Then they would all need boys’ names.
‘Oh my,’ she thought. ‘I better make a list.’
She got a piece of paper and began to make a list. On the right side, she put the girls’ names, and on the left, she put the boys’.
Once she had finished, she called over her friend, Elsa, and asked her what she thought about her choice of names. Elsa looked at the names and gave a slight chuckle.
“Daisy,” Elsa said. “I like the girls’ names, but may I ask why you chose this one as a boy’s name?”
“What do you mean?” asked Daisy.
“This one.” Elsa said as she pointed to one of the names.
“Oh, Elsa,” Daisy said, rather startled. “I am not sure it just sort of came to me.”
The next morning, Daisy noticed her children were ready to break free and hatch.
One egg cracked, and then another, until finally the last one began to open.
Out of the first egg a girl duckling appeared, and then, out of the second, another girl duckling appeared.
Then finally, out of the last egg, a rather small boy duckling appeared.
“Oh, my beautiful children,” Daisy cried. “I am so happy to meet you all at last.” All the ducklings waddled over to Daisy and she hugged them all.
“Now,” said Daisy. “You need your rest. I will give you your names in the morning.”
The young ducklings just grinned and in chorus said, “Okay.” They then all snuggled up together and went to sleep.
Now, it was Duck tradition that all the fowl of the farm had to be present at this very special time. A meeting would be called in the middle of the farm so as every animal or fowl would be able to attend. (This has always been in between the Barn, the pigsty and the chicken coop as it gave a chance for everyone to see and hear everything.)
So, at the top of her lungs, Daisy cried, “FEATHER GATHERING! FEATHER GATHERING!”
All the chickens looked up, and all of the geese nodded in Daisy’s direction. The local birds all came and perched on one of the fences nearby. Even the rooster strutted across the farmyard over to where Daisy was standing. And finally, the white swan who always visited in the spring majestically flew over and stood by Daisy.
When the swan tucked up her wings, Daisy bowed her head as a sign of respect and then gently nudged her children out from behind her.
With her head still low, Daisy cleared her throat and said, “My lady. These are my three offspring, and I would like the right to name them.”
The swan smiled and asked, “What names have you chosen for these three?”
Taking a deep breath, Daisy said, “For my first daughter, I name her Pippa. For my second daughter, I name her Dorothy. And for my son, I name him Hubert.”
There were some gasps from behind.
“Um, Daisy. Did I hear right?” asked the swan.
“My lady,” Daisy said. “To which name are you referring?”
The swan leaned over to Daisy’s right shoulder and said, very quietly, “Your son’s name.”
Daisy was unsure how to reply to this question. “Do you mean Hubert?”
“Yes, my dear,” said the swan.
Looking all around, Daisy realized that the swan was not the only one confused by her son’s name.
Taking a moment to compose herself, Daisy said, “Yes, my lady. This name is correct.”
Upon hearing this, the swan nodded and opened up her beautiful wings before saying, “From this day forth, these three young ducklings will be known as Pippa, Dorothy, and Hubert.” The swan then glided up and flew back to her resting spot in the middle of the pond. Waddling up to Daisy, Elsa then said, “Well, I never.”
“What do you mean?” Daisy asked, rather annoyed.
“Oh, Daisy. I never thought you would actually use that name,” Elsa said.
“What is that supposed to mean?” Daisy demanded.
“Daisy, I am your friend. I did not mean to upset you,” Elsa said upon realizing Daisy was now crying.
“I know,” said Daisy, “but everyone does not like the name I chose. What am I to do now?”
“It will be fine,” Elsa said calmly. “We will just have to get used to it and used to it we shall.”
Elsa, herself, was a rather old duck, and whenever she said anything, the other fowl of the farm would obey her. Her peck was rather nasty, and the other fowl did not want to get on her bad side.
So, in a loud voice, Elsa said, “Welcome Pippa, Dorothy, and my Duckson, Hubert.”
At this, the farm fowl all clapped and in unison said, “Here, here!”
And thus, the young ducklings were now officially part of the farm.
As days passed, it wasn’t long after the ceremony that the rest of the farm fowl got used to the name Hubert. No one was bothered by the fact that his name sounded more like that of a horse than that of a duck. And after some time, they all began to love him just as much as Daisy did.
As Daisy’s children were getting just old enough to travel down the pond, they occupied their time by dipping their beaks into the water at the pond’s edge and watching the ripples they made dance across its surface.