• Last modified 98 days ago (Feb. 21, 2024)


Another Day in the Country

Ducks sprung; spring in sight

© Another Day in the Country

Some years, I’ve gone to great heroics to keep some of my plants alive, wintering them on my back porch.

This year, it was only Jessica’s foxtail ferns that were carefully squired over to my closed-in porch and snuggled into the warmest corner, where heat is available when the temperatures outside get close to zero.

During the worst of the snowstorm that we endured during January, I found myself binging on gardening shows from Britain, where Kansas weather is the stuff of fairy tales.

It soothed my need to see things growing and whet my appetite for planting bulbs in pots, which meant I immediately got on Amazon and ordered more bulbs.

I just ignored the back porch.

Until this weekend. 

Yes, I know it still is winter, but spring is in sight. It won’t be long now, and daffodils will begin pushing their way toward the light. In fact, I found some today, on my way over to check on chickens. My one long splash of daffodils was beginning to make itself known.

The hens finally began to lay again just this week. I’d had to buy eggs at the store for a couple of weeks now, so the day I found one blue egg in the nest box was a red-letter day.

A couple of days later, one brown egg was added to the blue one in the hay. I was so excited I didn’t want to eat them, just to look at them. 

I’ve gotten lazy, going out to feed and water the hens every other day, but now that they are laying eggs again, I’ll be more attentive.

By Saturday, I’d collected a full dozen eggs, four different shades of color, which tells me four hens are laying now out of the dozen still with me.

During the siege of winter storms, the ducks have been locked in their pen by mud.

All the accumulated snow and rain caused the pen to be one large puddle of goop that settled in behind the gate and sealed it.

Today, I decided to try to get that gate open. I dug and scraped, pried and jimmied the gate. Where I needed to be was inside the pen, working from that angle. But, of course, I was outside the gate, having to work through cracks and small openings.

Finally, I got the top part of the gate open wide enough that I could squeeze through with my trusty shovel and work from inside. The ducks were excited — Daffy especially.

During the winter, she’d lost her voice for a while but today she was back in full basso profundo — and was she excited.

“Do you see what she is doing,” she asked the drakes who were watching apprehensively.

What was going on? Should they be manly and insist I leave? 

“Oh, no, don’t be afraid. Just listen to me.”

Daffy was bobbing her head up and down, coaxing them to pay attention to her and not me, the shoveler.

“You just wait and see,” she quacked, “We are going to get out and go to the pond.”

They hadn’t been to the pond for two months now. I wondered whether they had forgotten about it.

For sure, when I got their gate open, they’d forgotten what gates were for.

“Looks like fence to me,” Duke proclaimed, refusing to go anywhere near the opening.

I literally had to chase them out of the pen. Even then, the two guys ran behind the gate instead of through it.

When the girls got through the gate, wings flapping as if they were flying, they headed straight for the pond and then they stopped.

Something was different.

They stood at the edge of the water and discussed it at great length while the guys finally figured out what doors were for.

Finally, the feathered five stood in a row at the edge of the sidewalk. A branch had fallen from our infamous princess tree and had toppled a statue into the pond. Branch and maiden were still there in the water. Was it a hazard?

After a bit, Duchess just got in the water.

“C’mon,” she said. “It’s safe.”

They all piled in after her.

That’s when the fun started. It just turned into a wing-slapping, splash-and-dive circus with water flying everywhere. It was hilarious to watch. I was bundled in a down coat, sitting in a lawn chair, duck watching in February.

Drake and Duke got out of the water to preen and then spied a little duck house I’d tried to talk them into using last spring when they first came to Ramona.

They were scared of it then. It evidently looked so big to goslings, with a door like a yawning mouth. This year, since they are older and more self-assured, it looked like just the thing for a summer house.

They went in, sat down, and called to the girls, who cautiously peeked in the door but didn’t go inside.

They had flown, splashed, dived, and played. Now, before the fox gets wind that five ducks are loose in Ramona, I needed to get them back to safety.

“Duck, ducks,” I called, in my sweetest coaxing voice. “I’ve got peas.”

I tossed out a sample, they came running, and that was that — on another day in the country.

Last modified Feb. 21, 2024