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Another Day in the Country

Swimming hole closed

© Another Day in the Country

Most Easters find me in California, spending spring break with my grandson.

Not this time. I’m not sure what brought about the change. Maybe I’m playing the age card.

Taking trips for two or three weeks takes a toll on a body. It always seems as if it takes me at least a week after I’m back for things to return to some semblance of normal at home.

It’s “where did I put that?” and “what happened to my hair brush?” 

Once Easter weekend hit, there were only three weeks until our annual art show at Centre Elementary, and a lot needs to be done between now and then.

So, I said not this year to my California family and stayed home.

Did I miss going to California? Of course, I did. So to compensate, I ordered baby ducks from my favorite hatchery.

My neighbor has had ducks for a couple of years, so I did my due diligence and asked for advice.

“Well, they are messy,” he said, “and noisy, but they are fun to have.”

I took the plunge. After all, I have a small pond in my back yard, and what could be more perfect than to see ducks swimming in the pond?

They came this week, six little ducklings in a huddle. It always amazes me that the U.S. mail still handles sending live animals and is pretty efficient at it.

Early Wednesday morning I got a call from my mail carrier.

“Pat, we have baby chicks here for you at the post office.”

Little did he know, they were ducks.

I’ve never had ducks. I remember my Grandma Ehrhardt having a bunch of baby ducks when I was a kid and my ornery cousin Jerry getting in trouble with Gramm because he was chasing them.

My friend Sue got ducks one Easter a long time ago in California, and she let hers into the kitchen. They would follow her around as if she was the mother duck. I was horrified.

My neighbor had told me that he thought ducks were much easier to raise than chicks, so I felt pretty confident as I set up the duck nursery.

Jess and I dragged my dad’s old skinny stock tank onto the enclosed back porch. I dug out my heat lamps and smaller feeders. I installed a shallow container of water at one end and a heat lamp and nesting material at the other.

Everything was ready when I brought the ducklings home.

Oh, my word, they are the cutest things. One pair are black Swedish that look as if they are wearing tuxedos. Another pair are Cayuga. And then there are two little Pekin girls.

“You’ve got to name them,” my friend Phyllis texted me after I sent her pictures. “Here are some suggestions: Agnes, Bertie, Carie, Dottie, Earl and Fred.”

There is absolutely nothing cuter than watching ducklings discover water.

“Plop.”

I’d hear a tiny splash, signaling that a baby duck had jumped into the shallow pan.

“Plop, plop, plop, plop, plop….”

The other five would rush to get in, too.

They were quickly very proficient, it seemed — so comfortable in the water that the life guard went to teach art all morning on the second day after their arrival and didn’t close down the pool.

For those of you more familiar with raising ducks, you probably will be saying what I read on Google after the fact: “Don’t put baby ducks into water until they are at least two weeks old.” 

These little guys were only a few days old. By the time I got back from school, I’d lost a duckling — one of the two little yellow fluff balls.

I felt so bad, so neglectful. Why hadn’t I checked Google with the question, “Can baby ducks drown?”

Yes, they can, was the answer. They can get waterlogged. They can get too cold. They are babies, after all, and as mama duck, I’d mishandled my little brood, exposing my charges to danger. I have to be more careful.

Last evening, when the cousins and their kids came for supper, we opened the swimming hole to the ducklings for just a few minutes so the Fabulous Five could show off to the guests.

Talk about excited! I warmed the water, and they thought they were living in the tropics. Not only did they swim. They were so excited to be in the water again they were trying to dive under water, scaring their mama duck to death. It was a black pan, and four of the five are black ducks. 

“Are they all on top of the water? Did that little black one come up?”

They were acting little boisterous kids in a kiddie pool. Water was flying everywhere, and mama duck was a nervous wreck on another day in the country.

Last modified April 13, 2023

 

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