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Another Day in the Country

Ducking a dilemma

© Another Day in the Country

This past week has been one hurdle after another in my learning curve regarding the care and keeping of ducks.

They are huge! Daffy is two feet plus from outstretched head to tail and barely 6 weeks old.

They look to me like adult ducks except for down peaking through their new feathers. Ducks grow really fast. Who knew?

It’s my job to keep them warm and secure from predators, but these ducks have ideas of their own.

Even bribing them with petite peas (the more expensive brand that I keep a supply of in my freezer) doesn’t mean they’ll go into their little duck house at night. Who knew?

I thought keeping ducks would be “like water off a duck’s back.” It isn’t. Who knew?

Even when it’s storming, ducks do not necessarily seek shelter. Who knew?

Ducks poop every 15 minutes, involuntarily. Who knew?

I keep Googling one dilemma after another, and I’m getting quite the education.

The ducks were released onto my mini-pond weekend before last. Everything was ready. My attempt was to be competent as a good keeper of ducks.

I had a two-foot-high, slightly decorative fence around what I called “their area.”

There was a little duck house with a ramp for easy entry. Water lilies, lotus, and hyacinth were doing their due diligence, emerging with their heads above water (unlike the god of the pond, who was definitely over her head).

I’d purchased something called Pond lettuce, which flourishes on a pond like ground cover over water.

I’d also invested $6 in a little sample container of duck weed. I hoped it would provide snacks for ducks as the name promises, thus keeping them busy nibbling instead of foraging on my tall, beautiful, newly leafed-out hosta plants around the pond.

It was all very picturesque when LeeRoy came over to help us catch and transfer ducks to the pond — my dream for county living, par excellence. 

The ducks were thrilled at this wonderful vacation paradise. They took to the pond like ducks do to water, paddling around, diving, and splashing like 4-year-olds in a wading pool.

We pulled up lawn chairs and sat and watched them as the spring sun peaked through the clouds. It was idyllic.

Eventually, the temperature rose into the 80s. Jess went inside to get an umbrella for shade from the sun. I brought out peas to tempt the ducks out of the pond to see whether the gradual beach area I’d created really worked for them to get in and out of the water.

All tasks were performed, and the ducklings wiled away the afternoon getting into the pond and out of the pond, playing in the water and then preening on the bank.

They were in their element, thrilled to be alive, and so was I.

If my camera had been using film as cameras used to in the olden days, I would have shot several rolls of film. But now, in this modern era, I’m clicking away on my phone and sending texts to family members and friends: “Look! The ducks are on the pond! My duck dream fulfilled.”

Several days later, rain was forecast. 30% it said. I wondered whether 30% would mean dribbles and dabs of moisture, but soon dark clouds were gathering, and a real Kansas storm was threatening.

Did the ducks seek cover? No! Would they be bribed into the house? No! Who knew?

They eventually got out of the pond as the thunder rolled and lighting lit up the darkening sky. Facing into the wind, like little duck statues, their beaks toward the heavens, they weathered the storm.

When night came, I tried getting them into the house, exhausting my patience and all the peas. They would not come.

With ducks, it’s an all-or-none situation. Four ducks in and two out means no ducks tucked away from predators as darkness comes. Who knew?

Jess and I made one last attempt to get the ducks in as the rain pelted down and darkness descended.

I tripped on my decorative duck fencing and said, “I give. This is dangerous! For me, more than ducks. I’m admitting defeat and going back inside.”

For the first time in their little duck lives, they were out all night, and I didn’t sleep well.

At dawn, I woke up. Snuggled under my down quilt, head on my down pillow, I contemplated the day ahead.

Was it still raining? Would there be ducks still alive? Would I write about this in my column? Did I want to admit defeat by ducks? Would there be duck feathers floating on the water? Did I even want to know?

Barefoot, I went out to survey the damage, ready for the worst.

“Quack, quack, quack,” they all were talking in unison, ready to spend another day in the country.

Last modified May 18, 2023

 

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