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My Fair Ducklings

Mud sucked down over the top of my boots as I stepped deeper into the swampy ditch. I wondered if I was going to lose my boots in the mucky water if I continued. My four naughty ducks swam farther back into the cat tails, just out of my reach. Four of my ducks had recently discovered that if they got into the irrigation ditch, they could swim under the road in a culvert to the neighbor's ditch which is filled with delicious reeds—and

they didn't want to go home. The neighbor was able to get on the other side of the ditch and with 5 of us pushing, we finally got them out of the water, through the pasture of alpacas and down their driveway. When we reached the road, we had to hold them off to wait for traffic, then quickly hurried them down the asphalt. Their little tail feathers wibbled and wobbled as they crossed the intersection all in a line—it was like the Farm version of the Beatles crossing Abbey Road.

My wet boots squished as we trailed the ducks home to their pond. It seemed a lifetime ago that it was us walking down the real Abbey road across 'the Pond,' exploring our own new ditches and cattails—wearing dress boots that didn't leave muddy footprints behind. During our adven- tures, we learned that Big Ben isn't the name of the clock tower, it's really the name of one of the largest bells inside the tower—the tower is actually called Elizabeth Tower. When it was unveiled, it was the largest and most accurate four-faced striking and chiming clock in the world, and on each of its sides is represented one of the four nations of the United Kingdom – a rose for England, thistle for Scotland, a shamrock for Northern Ireland, and a leek for Wales.

We learned that the iconic bridge I had always thought to be London Bridge is actually Tower Bridge—and that the current London Bridge is much more utilitarian. The original London Bridge was a bustling thoroughfare lined with houses and shops, the rent from which funded it's construction and upkeep. It also featured a central chapel, gates, a drawbridge, even waterwheels and a mill. The houses were up to 7 stories

high and jutted over the river by as much as 6.5 feet on either side. No wonder London Bridge was always falling down!

The kids and I had recently read The Ravenmaster's Secret —so we were more excited to visit the Tower of London (really called His Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London) and see the the ravens than the crown jewels. There are currently 7 ravens at the Tower today:

Jubilee, Harris, Gripp, Rocky, Erin, Poppy and Merlina. It isn't known exactly when the ravens first came to the Tower of London, but legend says there must be at least six ravens in residence at all times, lest both Tower and Monarchy fall.

While in the Tower, we also visited what used to be the zoo (now filled with just statues of the exotic animals it used to house), and learned that in the 1700s, instead of paying the three and a half pence entrance fee to the London Zoo, you could pay with a dog or cat—these would then be used to feed the lions and tigers!

Feeding the animals, brought me back to the present. Our sheep were noisily trying to remind us that they hadn't been fed yet—and they didn't seem to care about ducks, London sight-seeing, and especially not a music group named after a bug!

Having gotten the ducks finally back to the driveway, my husband split off to start feeding hay, my son went to the house to start breakfast, and I trailed the little naughty ducks all the way to their pond. We may not

really live on Abbey Road—but apparently all the iconic sites in London aren't really what we refer to them as anyway. So I'm naming our driveway Abbey Road. The leader of the 4 naughty ducks will be Lennon, followed by Starr, McCartney and Harrison. They can all live together in the muddy waters of the Thames, and I'll dub the 2x4 that we cross it with, the London Bridge—then if it collapses and I fall in—I can still be “my fair lady!”

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