Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Death Comes With a Pounce... In Memory of Little Duck, Zeus and Nellie

My precious Little Duck, Zeus and Nellie were killed today by a dog.  If the dog had been hungry, I could more readily accept and move on.  But the dog was not hungry;he deliberately killed those little ducks in a frenzy for the sake of killing.  How frightened those babies must have been.  

Nick took the shovel and dug the holes in the flower bed around the flag pole.  We buried Little Duck, Zeus and Nellie together. 

Death comes with a crawl, or comes with a pounce,
And whether he's slow or spry,
It isn't the fact that you're dead that counts,
But only how did you die?

(From "How Did You Die" by Edmund Vance Cooke)

Good bye, my precious Little Duck
Good bye, funny little Zeus and Nellie 
You will always be a moment of wonder to me.

The Saga of Little Duck...continues

Little Duck has been with us now for one week.   We brought the three ducklings--Little Duck, Zeus and Nellie--outside.  We then sat out there most of the day under the tree watching the three little ducks.  When we brought them in, they had clean shavings, water and feeders full.  Baby chicks didn't seem to miss them.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Where Did You Come From? The Saga of a Little Duck

This is the story of Little Duck.  We do not know where she came from:  we only know she is here and we feel blessed that she is now part of our lives.  The first time we saw Little Duck, she was frantically running north in the middle of the lavender field at Hearth Cricket Farm on August 30, 2014 in the middle of the day. What was a baby duck doing out here all alone in the middle of the lavender field?  The baby duck became entangled in some weeds and I cupped by hands and scooped her up.  "Where did you come from, little duck?" I asked.  "How did you get out here?"  She did not struggle but looked out at me with such acceptance of her circumstance.  Such a tiny creature in such a large field and all alone.  I walked towards my husband and daughter who were working the tractor and the weeder.  My daughter looked up, "What's ya got there, mom?" she asked.  "Guess!"  I whispered.  I couldn't talk; I was participating in a mystery: this tiny wisp of life was bigger than the moment I was in.   "What?"  my husband and daughter shouted in unison.  I tried to talk again.  Kristi saw the little yellow tail sticking out the other end of my cupped hands and exclaimed, "A baby chick."  I shook by head side-to-side.  "No," I mouthed.  I opened my cupped hands very slowly until they could see the tiny little fuzzy yellow head with the button eyes and little bill that still had the "egg tooth".  "A duck!  Where did you find a baby duck?"  I told them the story and we started looking for a nest.  My husband was sick, thinking he might have run over a nest of baby ducks.  But, as hard as we looked, we couldn't find any other ducks.  My younger grandson, Jake, curiosity getting the better of him, came over.  Then, my older grandson, Nick, came walking across the field to see what was going on.  "Well, grandma", Nick said as he threw his arms around me.  "You now have your duck for your pond."   I was overcome with emotion:  a duck, a perfect little yellow, fuzzy baby duck that just appeared from nowhere!  There she was sitting in my hand as quiet as could be with those button black eyes.  She was just what I wanted!

We started looking under the bushes, under the weeds, in the trees, outside the field in the grasses lining the roads, in the goat pasture, in the rocks--anywhere the little fellow might have come from so we could put her back with her family but to no avail.  No other baby ducks; no nest; no mother.  A mystery!  My daughter fetched her carrier; we put straw and some water in the carrier and sat it out in the field as the little duck cried for her family.  We listened to her calling for her family but there was no answer; no other cry save the one from the little duck trapped in a carrier.  Finally, we brought her to the house. She was shivering and we knew we had to do something more for her or she would die.  We watched in amazement as she climbed the walls of the carrier:  what kind of duck climbs like that--using the claws on the end of her feet to hang on to the sides of the carrier... and what kind of duck has claws!

Kristi and I dragged the horse watering trough into the hallway, lined it with straw and hung a heat lamp up.  We put water and baby duck in the trough and she immediately sat under the heat lamp.  My husband and Kristi went to town and purchased food and, since babies shouldn't be alone, Kristi bought some baby chickens to keep the baby duck company.  Under the heat lamp, baby duck stopped shivering; she also liked swimming in the tiny plastic tub I put in the trough.  With the coming of the baby chicks; however, we took out the plastic tub because we were afraid the baby chickens would drown.  Poor baby duck!  We put food in:  the round plastic container and the metal oval container held duck food; the  long red container belonged to the baby chicks.  But, baby chicks are little pigs and didn't care what the food was in:  they wanted it all!  One baby chick decided she was queen of the hill, climbed up on the metal oval container, right in the middle of the food, and went to sleep. We decided to name baby duck Jesus (if a boy) and Jesusa (if a girl).  A most precious gift, a mystery was our little Jesus/Jesusa and we wanted to give her/him a fitting name.

Kristi inquired among her friends and they asked if there were any marks on baby duck.  "No," Kristi said.  The answer coming from Kristi's friends was that if there had been marks on baby duck, then it was likely that a bird of prey--hawk, most likely--had snatched baby duck and, for whatever reason, had released her over the lavender farm.  Another response was that, if there were no marks on baby duck, a crow most likely snatched her, couldn't hold on to her and baby duck fell to the earth.  Since we were there, the crow couldn't reclaim his victim and flew away.  Crows have a regular flying pattern around here so this seemed to be the most likely answer.  However, we have wanted (and looked for) ducks for a long time and prefer to believe Jesus/Jesusa is a gift from heaven (and we definitely do not want to look a gift duck in the mouth, so to speak).

Jesus/Jesusa and Jake--we love baby duck

We were on a roll for ducks!  A friend told Kristi that a friend of hers had a mama duck who was mean to her babies and that we could have them if we went and picked them up. "How much?" we asked.  "Free!" was the answer.  Free is a very good price and so Kristi, Jake and I piled into the car and headed to Prineville to pick two more baby ducks up.  "You have to catch them," they said.  "Okey, dokey.  No problem!" we responded.  Kristi plugged in the address on her gps and away we went down the road, carrier in the back full of straw and passengers in the car with visions of waddling duck tails in their heads.  We pulled into the driveway, Kristi and Jake hopped out of the car, the fellow came out of the house and all three hopped over an electric fence and walked  to an outbuilding.  The fellow handed Kristi this huge butterfly net and said, "There they are!" as he pointed to two little ducks waddling behind four bigger ducklings who were behind the mama duck who had adopted the two littler baby ducks.  I saw the butterfly net go down, I saw Kristi getting the baby duck out of the net and handing it off to Jake.  I saw Jake as he hopped the electric fence (I cringed each time he hopped that fence) and gently put the first baby duck into the carrier and then hopping the fence again and running across the lawn to his mom who had captured the second baby duck in the butterfly net.  Kristi handed off the second baby duck to Jake who hopped over the electric fence a fourth time (careful, Jake) and put the second baby duck in with her sibling.  Kristi thanked the fellow and then she and Jake came back to the car (fifth hop over the electric fence for Jake, second hop for Kristi) and put the little baby ducks in the back of the car.  Off we went, happy as we could be with two--a little bit older than our baby duck--baby ducks.  We talked over names for the two older baby ducks and Jake named the two ducks Zeus and Nellie.  Where that morning I had no ducks; I now had three!  Could life get any sweeter!

We came home and put Zeus and Nellie in the trough with Jesus/Jesusa.  The baby chicks were little beasts--pecking and just being annoying--towards the two older baby ducks.  "Who are you?  Where did you come from?  You smell funny!"  We could almost hear the baby chicks saying to the older baby ducks.  The older baby ducks took the pecking and the annoying little baby chickens for as long as they could and then they started defending themselves.  "Oh," I thought.  "This doesn't look so good!"  But as time went on, things settled down and the babies started behaving themselves and getting along.
Baby Duck with Baby Chicks

Baby Duck with Two Older Baby Ducks

Where did little baby duck come from, I ask myself.  It is a wonderful mystery that, more than likely, shall never be explained.  We can conjecture but, sometimes, we need those moments of wonder.  Sometimes, like baby duck, it's just best to accept the circumstance.  Sometimes, I forget to just be thankful.   I am thankful for this little duck.  Welcome, Little Duck, to your new home.  We make you kindly welcome.