Another Day in the Country
Swimming hole closed
© Another Day in the Country
My grandson and I spend most Easters in California.
This time, not. I’m not sure what brought about the change. Maybe I’m playing the age card.
Two to three week trips can take a toll on the 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?”
Three weeks remained until the Centre Elementary annual art show, which was scheduled for Easter weekend. A lot of work needs to be done in between now, and then.
So I said no to my California family this year and stayed home.
What did I do to miss California? It was true. I bought baby ducks from my favorite hatchery to make up the difference.
My neighbor has been keeping ducks for some time, so I did my research and asked for his opinion.
“Well, they are messy,” he said, “and noisy, but they are fun to have.”
I did it. I had a small pond in my backyard, so it was perfect to have ducks swimming in it.
Six little ducklings gathered in a huddle arrived this week. It amazes me how efficient the U.S. postal service is at sending live animals.
My mail carrier called me Wednesday morning.
“Pat, we have baby chicks here for you at the post office.”
They were, as he didn’t know, ducks.
I’ve never had ducks. My Grandma Ehrhardt kept a bunch of ducklings for me as a kid. Gramm got into trouble with Jerry, my ornery cousin, because he chased them.
Sue, my friend, got ducks from California for Easter many years ago. Sue let her ducks in the kitchen. They followed her around as if they were the mother duck. I was shocked.
My neighbor told me that ducks are easier to raise than chicks. I was therefore pretty confident when I set up the duck nursery.
Jess and I dragged my dad’s old skinny stock tank onto the enclosed back porch. I pulled out my heat lamps, and small feeders. I placed a small container of water on one side and a heat lamp with nesting material on the other.
Everything was set up when I brought my ducklings home.
They are so adorable! One pair is black Swedish and they look like they’re wearing tuxedos. Cayuga is another pair. Then there are the two 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.”
Nothing is more adorable than ducklings discovering water.
I’d hear a tiny splash, signaling that a baby duck had jumped into the shallow pan.
“Plop, plop, plop, plop, plop….”
The five remaining members of the group would also rush to enter.
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 two little guys were barely a few days young. 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?”
They can. That was the right answer. They can get too 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 need to be more cautious.
Last night, when the cousins with their kids arrived for supper we opened the swimming pool to the ducklings briefly so the Fabulous Five could entertain the guests.
You can’t get enough! They thought they were in the tropics when I heated the water. They could also swim. They were so excited to get back in the water they wanted to dive underneath it, scaring their mama duck. It was a black pan and four of the five ducks are black.
“Are they all on top of the water? Did that little black one come up?”
They were little boisterous and acted like children in a childdie pool. Mama duck was an anxious wreck the next day.
Leave a Reply