The Duckman: Acquiring a trailer without a load of poo

Greg Clarke, The Weekly Times, April 10 2017 THE good wife and I have just taken possession of the world’s most expensive trailer. This sparkling new tandem job has three levels and holds 35 million ducks. It’s not quite that number, but it certainly feels like it given the custom-made trailer holds even more birds than we have been loading on to the tray of our Hilux ute. To acquire the trailer we’ve taken another chunk out of the overdraft and justified it with two reasons: 1. Loading the ducks on to the trailer saves a considerable amount of time,…

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The Duckman: Learning how to deal with foxes not an easy feat

Greg Clarke, The Weekly Times, March 7 2017 PROTECTING plump birds requires skills we never dreamt we would need. The good wife and I are forever learning, and often mesmerised by, the infinite skills farmers need to possess. The first monumental challenge of this business, a few years after we moved from Melbourne, was to keep 30 infant ducks alive. Some eight years later, the need-to-learn-fast tests keep coming. My latest is an attempt to grow grass in some of our weary duck paddocks. Do you think it might be frustrating I haven’t managed to slow the lawn growing around the house…

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The Duckman: How to ruffle feathers at the Ritz

GREG CLARKE, The Weekly Times, September 7, 2016 THE Peninsula Hotel is one of Asia’s most refined establishments. Some guests are chauffeured by Rolls Royce to and from the airport. The good wife, our two girls, Madi and Milla, and I walk past the Rollers and into the seductive colonial-era foyer within two hours of landing in Hong Kong. There are small towers of Louis Vuitton suitcases piled on trolleys near check-in. The porters, who have presumably lugged the bags from the Rollers, still have work to do. I carry my own bag, a small chiller bag, into the hotel….

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The Duckman: Hunting for fortune is half the fun

GREG CLARKE, The Weekly Times August 3, 2016 12:00am THE good wife and I never completed a formal business plan for our farming adventure. I am reminded of the lack of a strategic plan when, out in the paddocks, I occasionally stop to stare at a pair of eagles that often cruise above our farm. It’s easy to admire their winging ways, but I also sense should they, or we, fly too close to an unforeseen ill wind, there could be a feather-scattering crash. Selling our paddock-reared, free-range ducks direct to restaurants is our core business, but ever since we…

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The Duckman: Benefits of lying down on the job

GREG CLARKE, The Weekly Times July 8, 2016 12:00am THE rain is coming in sideways and out in the paddocks you can feel the water trickling down your neck. How does a lie down in a warm room sound? I’ve found a particular way to escape the cold and the wet so the good wife, Jodi, and the two girls, Madi and Milla, benefit too. So do the ducks. In Port Campbell, at least two women specialise in offering excuses for farmers to step out of the mud, if only for an hour. Olivia is an osteopath with a new…

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The Duckman: Oh lord of the sky, hear our prayer

GREG CLARKE, The Weekly Times April 9, 2016 12:00am HOPEFULLY by the time you read this we’ll all be soaked, or at least soon will be, by the autumn break. Jodi thinks I am cursing us by writing about impending rain. She thinks these words on the page will somehow develop powers to steer the clouds around our farm. The good wife is a little jittery, but with good reason. We have two small dams at our place. One of them dried up in November last year. It has not been close to baring its bottom in past years until…

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The Duckman: With empty nests, nostalgia sets in

GREG CLARKE, The Weekly Times May 9, 2016 12:39pm A FARMER friend recently shared with me a most interesting chat she’d had with some visitors to Australia. The out-of-towners were on their way back to Melbourne after pecking about the Great Ocean Road and were overcome by a sudden craving for poultry. They parked the hire car by our friend’s farmhouse and politely asked if they might requisition a few of the chickens scratching about one of the paddocks near the house. The visitors were from Asia and most of the northern neighbours I’ve had the good fortune to meet…

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The Duckman: Time To Teach A New Dog Old Tricks

Time To Teach A New Dog Old Tricks OUR household has grown by one. Jodi and I welcomed Nigel into our world in February. Our two girls, Madi and Milla, are thrilled. Our new boy is named after a treasured friend who Jodi and I once lived with in London, long before our ideas about ducks, let alone our new boy, were conceived. Our East End mate recently came and stayed and insisted we name our new addition after him. We have then called our new dog, a Kelpie, Nigel. You’re right to think that Nigel is a bonkers name…

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The Duckman: Are You There Minister? It’s GOD

Are You There Minister? It’s GOD Dan Tehan MP is the Federal Member for Wannon, our Port Campbell farm’s electorate, and the agriculture committee chair. As such, Mr Tehan helps sow the current Government’s agricultural policy agenda. This is an open letter to him: Dear Mr Tehan, Congratulations on the agricultural initiatives you have recently been promoting. Some say the Government’s plans, should they be realised, may amount to some $2 billion of investment in agriculture and help return farming to where it should be: one of the key sectors of the Australian economy. Mr Tehan, during the launch of…

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