Duck disappearance and patience, Pt. 1

I went out to feed our 12 ducks the other morning, and there were only 7.

There are only two possibilities: they either got eaten, or they decided to fly south during the nastiest weather we’ve seen yet this season. I didn’t see any blood; but we had rain and snow the previous night, so I figured if there was any, it was gone.

Now, these are true free-range ducks. They do what they want, and that includes refusing to go into a little house for shelter at night. For a while, they went in there voluntarily. But they’re very skittish—a trait attributable to the breed (Khaki Campbell), I understand—so if they saw me approaching the shelter to close the door, they would run out. So I had to do it after dark, and had to turn out my flashlight as I approached. Only the light of the moon would guide my hurried steps as I rushed the door before any could slip out.

It was super stupid.

I was in the process of working on a better shelter, nearer the pond, when they just quit going in the shelter altogether. And I got pretty busy and couldn’t finish it.

So now they just do what they want, which typically means nestling down in a relatively exposed place at night. Suicidal instincts.

Also, these are the most annoying ducks you can imagine. We originally purchased them for eggs—Khaki Campbells are reputed to lay up to 300 eggs per year—but we only discovered later how loud and skittish this breed is. They’ve gotten a little better lately, but for a while, I couldn’t get within 15 yards of them. And in the morning, they do this terribly loud “QUAAAAACK, Quack Quack Quack Quack Quack Quack.” Once I feed them, they mostly quit. But I think the neighbors hate me. And I think the ducks are laughing at me.

Is he laughing?

Is he laughing?

We did butcher 3 of the male ducks, as they seemed unlikely to ever lay eggs. I was going to butcher 4, but one of them got away from me on butchering day.

I don’t know if there’s a point to this story, but if there is, it might be that I’m growing tired of tasting the fruit of my haphazard farming style. We love raising food, and we want to work towards making our farm more streamlined and sustainable. But my lack of preparedness in certain things has just caused needless frustration.

We’re moving closer to buying the farm, and I have lots of dreams about ways to grow and develop this place. The Creator just seems determined to teach us patience, and I seem predisposed to be slow at learning it. As day after day slips by in which my life does not yet look exactly as I have idealized it, I am seeing that only when I cherish the process of growth and give thanks for the less-than-ideal days am I reminded of all the Goodness. My son; my wife and the baby growing inside her; this beautiful place; a freezer full of food and a cow giving milk; our generous, loving family; devoted, good friends. I may be a lousy farmer, but I am undoubtedly a blessed one.

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8 Responses to Duck disappearance and patience, Pt. 1

  1. Mark Bales says:

    I enjoyed this story very much, and those duck eggs are the very best. A friend of mine has some white ducks and they lay pretty regular.

  2. cowcrzy says:

    I’ve got 2 Pekins (white ducks) and this is my first winter having them. I had 3 lost one during the first cold spell so they are now in a small room in the house… Along with the Chicks I hatched in October lol

  3. Walter L Black says:

    I had chuckle as I thought of you sneaking up on the ducks to shut the door to their shelter. Having owned three white ducks a loooong time ago, I can appreciate how messy and loud your bunch must have been. You made me smile Nathan!

  4. Liz says:

    We have a patchy relationship with our ducks. They would go in at dark with all of our chickens until they became friends with wild ducks in our pond. We lost some a while back to coyotes and a bobcat – maybe they are suicidal in nature.

    Congratulations on the baby! We too are growing a farm hand :)

    • Ducks are suicidal… I think that must simply be the reality.
      Congrats on a new farm hand! Although for a while, all he/she will do is contribute to the manure count… and crow to wake you up way too early :)

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