Grassroots diary: Farewell to 'human-like' duck who lived for 15 years
He still vividly remembers the moment he first clasped eyes on Hannabal Hayes - the most famous drake in Ireland.
Milton C Hardcastle was on his way out of a mart in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, after buying parts for a tractor when he walked by a sale cage with just one little baby duck left huddled in the corner.
The retired radio DJ and animal lover couldn't take another step, he felt destined to take him home.
Milton paid the farmer €4, picked him up, popped the adorable, fluffy duckling into the back of his jeep and they headed off to Dromard, Co Longford, where he would live a long, happy, "human-like" life for the next 15 years, full of fun, mischief and adventure.
They were the best of friends.
Until, sadly, after a short bout of kidney problems, Hannabal Hayes - named after a cowboy from the hit 1970s US western television series Alias Smith And Jones - passed away two weeks ago in the arms of his owner.
"It was a heart attack that got him in the end. I was with him at the time. I was lucky enough to get home. I walked into the shed and I was holding him up and next thing the heart just gave in," Milton told Grassroots Diary. Milton has fond memories of his dark feathered duck following him around the yard. "He followed me like a puppy dog. For a drake, it was very unusual.
"He used to look at himself in the mirror every morning at the side of the compressor in the shed, it was the first thing he would do," he laughed. "If I called him in and he was away down the far end of the yard, he would come running in a flash, it was classic to see him coming and I've it all filmed," he said.