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, up to four hours a week.

2. The trailer prevents at least one tonne of duck excrement a week ending up on me.

The good wife and I sell a weekly batch of ducks to some of Victoria’s finest restaurants and also fulfil a monthly order to Hong Kong.

Every week we take the ducks on a one-way three-hour drive to a Melbourne abattoir. Until the trailer came into our lives, we would load the ducks into poultry crates, lift them by hand on to the ute, tie them down, then, after the drive, do it all in reverse at the processors.

Ducks are gold-medal shitters and the crates would get covered in the foulest smelling example of it known to human kind. Most of it came off on me during the unloading process.

At the abattoir we would wash the crap from the crates, but it wasn’t always possible to wash myself down and the return drive to Port Campbell would be accompanied by the most skewering smells.

Now we load the ducks directly from our version of stockyards on to the trailer. And the fine hard-working people at the abattoir take them directly from our newest and most ridiculously expensive work tool. All of us encounter far less faecal matter.

The trailer has allowed us to have a ceremonial burning of our much-despised crates. But as with all brilliantly inventive ideas there are a few still-to-be-ironed-out flaws.

There have been a small flock of problems associated with a new way of doing things — driving with a trailer into Melbourne and looking for a park is such a fulfilling experience I’m thinking of taking it up as a hobby.

Yet the good wife is reasonably confident my future is going to be excitingly odourless — she runs the office these days, smells of roses of course, but wears a hint of the fire she continually plies with wood.

Indeed the good wife has suggested she will allow me back into the family home in about six months — she’s of the view it will take that long for the lingering smells to scrub away.

The thought of sleeping inside an actual house again is not the only good news to come out of the trailer-building process. Our overdraft-taxing acquisition was hand-built by a west Melbourne manufacturing business.

George Georgiou runs the company and makes stupid of the broad view of Australian manufacturing.

What he and his staff have done, beyond surprising us that there are thriving manufacturing businesses in this country and people in the city who actually work, is provide an unexpected metaphor for small farmers. “I can’t begin to compete on price with the big companies,” George said when I took him my sketches.

“But I’ll promise you quality.”

It took three months longer than anticipated to take delivery of our trailer but the delays, no matter how frustrating, were a positive sign. In fact I took an instant liking to busy George and his commitment to quality, and not simply because his business philosophy was a surprising reinforcement of ours.

Now I’m working on a new set of plans that will prove to be more surprising to the good wife than the trailer design.

They’ll have me sleeping in our house in far less than six months.