Happiness, Heartache and Hope

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!

47 thoughts on “Happiness, Heartache and Hope

  1. Awh how beautiful and sad all at the same time. This is a touch of what homesteading and farm life is like. As hard as it is for your son to see this it is also a great lesson in life that will give him a level of maturity that you just can learn from reading or on TV or just being told. How special it will be if you are able to hatch one of Ginger's eggs. I wish you luck.

  2. Wiping away the tears. Great story and reminder that life does go on…

  3. Sending you hugs! I'm so sorry she's gone! I've enjoyed seeing them grow and their antics. I'm so glad Ester is keeping Fred company.

    1. Karla, I am glad too. I just wish he would get in the pool and take a bath but he doesn't want to leave her. He is getting a little yucky! LOL

  4. You could also go buy a couple of female babies and hope Fred bonds when they mature?

  5. So sorry for the loss. Sad story for all of you. I sure hope at least 1 egg will hatch for you and give Fred a companion. It's so nice he ahs a friend by his side for now to be a great companion even if a different species. keep us posted. Do you know how long she ahd sat ont he eggs? Good luck to all and I hope your pain lessens with time. Deb

    1. We have no clue….. but the two that look like they might be developing were a lot cleaner on the shell so I am assuming they were the last two she laid.

  6. Sorry to hear about Ginger. It is so touching to hear how Ester is helping Fred with his grief. Hoping at least one egg hatches.

  7. Really enjoyed reading this bittersweet story! We just got 3 ducklings 2 wks ago, and I am amazed at how messy and wonderful they are at the same time… I will enjoy them when It's warm enough to kick them out of the house! I love the winter hot tub idea!

    1. Yes, I am slightly panicking because I got THREE! I planned on just 2… I don't know what the hell happened LOL. I've heard of chicken math and I think duck math must be a thing too 😉

  8. I felt so sad for you when you said Ginger was gone but I'm excited to see your baby ducks! It's kind of like the Lion King – poultry edition. 😉

  9. Awwwww, this is sooo sad 🙁 And yes, I believe that animals mourn in the same way we humans do. Poor little duck. BUT! What a wonderful thing you are doing. I really hope this takes, too… I love that Ester is helping Fred right now. It's like a barnyard soap opera. XOXO

    1. It really is a soap opera out there… Maybe I should write a book…. "So are the days of our poultry" LOL

  10. Dropping by from the backyard farming connection blog hop. How sad for Fred. But it's heartwarming to read that Esther is keeping him company. Animals know so much more than we give them credit for. Sometimes the food chain just sucks.

  11. Poor Ginger! I really hope one of her eggs hatch! Nature can be so cruel. Even to it's own. So glad your son didn't find Ginger!

  12. I've lost two chickens from my precious flock in the past month. I SO feel your pain! Yet aren't animals amazing? Ester coming to Fred's rescue? They have empathy we frequently overlook.

    I don't care about Dancing with The Stars, American Idol or The Voice. My vote goes to Ginger's eggs!

    1. It truly is amazing to watch the animal world… some times I think we as humans could learn a thing or two

  13. Awww that is a lovely, sad, story! I hope that you get some ducklings out of this batch!

  14. What a lovely story – sad and happy at the same time. It is amazing how attached we get to our pets, no matter how frustrating they can make us at times. How great that Fred has a friend in Ester. They look so cute together. Hope at least one of your eggs hatches.

    1. We have one egg that is growing . It is 12 days and doing great, so fingers crossed!

  15. Aw doggone it, not fair, nasty animal that killed Ginger. Bless your heart for getting the incubator to keep eggs alive. Poor Fred. But at least he has Ester for a friend now. I'll keep fingers crossed more eggs develop and survive. Happy days

    1. It would be nice to have more but at this point I am thinking only one is gonna make it. Better then none!

    1. Thanks Jennifer…. all my digits are crossed. Right now we only have one egg that looks like it will. But I'll take it!

  16. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful story on The Inspiration Board at homework. You were featured in the spotlight on Friday.
    carolyn ~ homework

  17. Mindie,
    I feel so silly sitting here crying. It's such a beautiful story, sad and happy. I can't believe how sweet your chicken is being to Fred. So sweet. Thanks so much for sharing with Wednesday's Adorned From Above Link Party.
    Debi and Charly

  18. So sad! I cried too. We're really new to the duck/chick life. I got duck mathed too, never bring con artists with you to pick birds (aka my 8 and 10 year olds) we ended up with 4 ducklings and 5 chicks when we were going to buy only 3 chicks, lol. I really hope your egg hatches, and I'll keep checking in for updates. So sorry for your birdie loss.

    1. Elsie we have nine days till hatch and our one little egg that could is still going strong!

  19. Wow! How incredible for you and your children to have kept Ginger's eggs in an attempt to carry on her "legacy", if you will 🙂 I look forward to learning about the new ducks!

    1. Right now we only have one egg that looks like it might make it and 7 days to go. Keep your fingers crossed for us.

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