I spoke with a woman over the weekend who was considering getting a few ducks for her granddaughter to raise. While I wholeheartedly applaud anyone who wants to bring these incredibly entertaining creatures home, I must admit I wondered if she knew what she was getting herself into.
When we first got ducks, I had no idea. I figured "Hey, we've got chickens.They can't be too different." I was about as wrong as maternity Spanx (which I just learned is a real, actual THING. WTF?)
Chickens and ducks ARE different. Very different. And also a lot alike. In the same way that Santa Claus and that clown from Stephen King's "It" are different sure, but still ... kinda alike.
When you think of a good, hearty, homemade breakfast, what's the first thing that comes to mind? Eggs. Delicious, firm white outsides with a creamy bright yellow center.
We got back from my sheep shearing classes to find what was left after a neighbor's dog paid a little visit to the farm.
After parking the truck, we stepped out to find our beloved FaFa duck's cold, stiff, lifeless body on the driveway. We were stunned but there was more to come. FF's first thought was to the babies, so he hurried to the barn to check on them. We've had freezing temperatures here for the past two days, so the younger ones were penned in the barn with a heater to keep them nice and warm. Luckily, all baby duckies and one chick were accounted for and in good health.
The same could not be said for the rest of our flock. Dead chickens behind the barn, under the carport, behind the grill. Ducks with broken wings, pitifully limping. It was just too much.
FF immediately started repairing the fence while I bundled the kids and got them into the house (all while marching them blindly past FaFa duck's body). Thankfully, it was already dark and cold, so the kids never saw her and I got them safely inside the house. Then the task began to unload the rental car, get the kids to bed, check on the rest of the flock and do what we could in the dark and cold. 27 degrees, y'all.
The next morning, we went out to assess the situation in the realness that only daylight brings. Let's just say the situation looked a lot better in the dark. We salvaged what was left and did what we could for our flock, but in the end, I suspect we will have to lose our more seriously injured farm companions.
Honestly, I'm at a loss for words, which if you know me, is rare. Homesteading teaches us so many things each day. Each day's lesson, painful or not, brings me ever closer to certainty on the lifestyle we've chosen.
We try to make sure all of the animals live a stress-free, happy life and have a pain-free but inevitable death. But I couldn't help but feel as if we failed poor Fafa duck.
We told the kids over breakfast what happened. FF Boy's response was silence, a tinge of sadness crossed his brow, and then that beautiful, sweet, doughnut sugar-covered face suddenly lit up. "Maybe we can hatch another Fafa duck again?"
There will never be another Fafa, or Thelma and Louise, or the Conductor, or Carl. But our farm, and what they contributed to it, will last with us forever.
I'm the wife of a Fledgling Farmer(FF) and mom to Fledgling Farmer Boy(FFB) and Fledgling Farmer Girl(FFG).