A year ago I got the “I want a duck” bug. I had been to various farm stores and looked in those big metal tubs at all the darling little duckies. But each time I left without a duck. Did I need a duck? Well their eggs are better for baking…. but did I NEED a duck?!?! I was doing okay managing my duck bug issue till one night our family went out to dinner and I had a strawberry daiquiri (I am such a lightweight) and revealed to my hubby my heart’s deepest desire. What did he do? He took my tipsy tooshie straight to the nearest farm store and helped me sex ducks!!! Why were we sexing ducks? Because, why just get one!!! I wanted a pair!
And folks, that is exactly what I got… a beautiful pair of baby duckling who quickly grew into stinky “teenagers” who’s pen and persons needed constant cleaning. I was so relieved when the weather finally turned nice and we could put Fred and Ginger OUTSIDE (where teenage stinky, messy ducks belong.) I was totally in love with my ducks. Watching them grow, play, swim, mate. Wait, my babies were all grown up and doing “nature things” in their kiddy pool. The oldest country kid (who will be eight soon) was delighted because giving “piggy back rides” means baby ducks, “right mom?”
All summer we watched our ducks grow and develop amazing personalities. They were so devoted to each other, never leaving each other’s side. Ginger soon began laying eggs which WERE wonderful for baking with. Soon after she began laying, the oldest country kid asked if we could hatch some. I of course said no. Winter was coming quickly and that is not a time for baby ducks. Maybe I would let her sit on a few eggs in the spring.
The winter was long, one of the worst in many years. I felt so bad for Fred and Ginger because the snow was so deep. I would shovel them paths around the yard. I also found a smaller size tub and would give them “hot tubs” every other day. There is nothing more comical then a duck jumping out of a warm pan of water at zero degrees and watching steam rise off them as they ran around the paths thoroughly enjoying themselves!
Spring finally arrived and the snow melted away. Fred and Ginger were loving the weather and of course our family took delight in their comical character. That is till Good Friday, when I took our chicks out to their day pen and I noticed Fred, alone. Fred was never alone. Where was Ginger? The oldest country kid was beyond excited to show me a nest of Ginger’s eggs he had discovered the day before so I followed him, still wondering where Ginger could be. He showed me a lovely nest, with seven duck eggs hidden in a brush pile.
After seeing the eggs I told him we needed to find Ginger, because it just wasn’t right to see Fred alone. Luckily I found her before the oldest country kid. Sadly, a raccoon or opossum had killed her in the night. My sweet, beautiful Ginger lay just beyond our garden beds. I am sure people for miles heard me break down. I sent the oldest country kid into the house quickly to fetch a box and a dish towel. While he was in the house I took care of Ginger.
When he returned with the box, which he thought was for Ginger’s body, I told him to gentle collect up the nest of eggs. I had said we would let her sit on a nest in the spring. It was spring and she had been sitting on a nest when she was taken. I knew it was a long shot and I had never incubated eggs before, but I was going to give hell trying. We quickly drove to the nearest town with a farm store and bought an incubator. We rushed back home to get it set up and ready. All the time I was thinking maybe, just maybe we could pull this one off.
We placed the seven eggs in the incubator and hoped. Only time would tell. Having never been apart from his mate, Fred was beside himself. He stood in the yard and just quaked. No one can ever tell me animals don’t have feeling. We have a chicken named Ester who Fred would to try to mate with. We used to joke about the inter species love triangle in our backyard. She would run from him in terror when he got near her. No one can ever tell me animals don’t have compassion. Ester had been Fred’s constant companion since Ginger died. She spends all day by his side, scratching and sharing what she finds or just sitting with him.
The eggs Ginger left behind have been in the incubator a week now. And believe it or not, two of them look like they are developing!!! I don’t care if only one of them develops, because it was never about numbers. All I care about is the fact that maybe, just maybe we will be able to do for Ginger what she was trying to do that night she was taken. And maybe, just maybe we can give Fred a duck friend. Only time will tell. And while her lose still hurts, there is hope for new life!