Monday, March 24, 2008

Ducks Deluxe

There is something about ducks that add quality and relaxation to one’s life. If you were fan of the Sopranos you will remember that it was the calming influence of ducks in Tony Soprano’s pool that seemed to set the stage for conflict in Tony’s life that lead him to panic attacks and eventual mental health therapy. Any other invader would have been dealt with, but this simple family of ducks seemed to pull the character into wanting a simple life.

Recently, I had an over night stay in the Portland area where I made a reservation at hotel I had never visited before. Upon arrival in the artificially landscaped parking area I felt very much at home and comforted by the two mallard drakes that were scavenging in the undergrowth.

The idea of ducks is much more charming than the reality of ducks. Though many breeds have beautiful plumage and are able to deal with human activity at a near distance, they can be violent towards one another. They can be noisy, and they crap all over the place.

When I moved here, the previous owner of my house left me a mallard drake. I named him Howard. This duck would walk up to you in a friendly way but when he was in striking distance he would grab onto your pant leg like a snapping turtle. He would not let go until you physically removed him and put him back in his pen.

Though he was a psycho; he added value to my little farm. Another benefit was that I never had a slug on my property as long as he lived there.

I normally locked Howard up with the chickens at night, but there were some nights where he couldn’t be lured or caught and was then allowed to run free, but one night I found him in several pieces back by the pond. It was a sad day for me.

Every home that has a missing member seems to have their ghost occasionally wander in and out from time to time. My mind is often visited by the memories of our dog who always sat in the kitchen in perpetual hope that some morsels of food would fall to the floor. I am visited by the memory of our first cat that never liked being any higher than the ground and would drape himself over my feet like a personal foot warmer. I look out and I can still see a white horse with black eyes looking out over the gate for me to bring her some grain.

I think that maybe when I get my new chicks this year, I might be tempted to add a few ducklings in the order as well to start making new memories.


Blogger Donna said...

Trouble with ducks here is that they are "sitting ducks" for coyotes, foxes, and dogs. I've had a couple of male ducks that were rapists: Any fowl smaller than them (baby geese, young turkeys) was fair game. weird.

7:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Howard the Duck eh? Sounds like he got a bad case of racoonitis. I've got a biter sweet duck story too.
In the early '70's my old man got into building Wood duck boxes and posting them around on his tree farm in hopes of attracting some of the beautiful creatures. He would nail them about 12' up on a tree that overlooked the river or a pond. Every year or so after nesting season we'd check for signs of use. We sometimes found indications that other species used the boxes, bees, squirrels swallows ect. No Wood ducks. A few springs back Dad decided to cut some timber near an old beaver pond. Of course we were not going to cut trees right around the pond, but as I walked in with my trusty Husqvarna I was startled as a gorgeous Wood duck exploded into flight from the box overlooking the pond. I like to imagine the Duck family had enjoyed that home for 5-10 years as it had been at least that long since we quit checking for activity. In any case I never saw that duck again.

7:59 AM  
Blogger Chantel said...

Next time you're in Ptown, drop me a line and we'll meet up for coffee.

Take Care

9:16 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

I'm quite fond of the ducks (and ducklings) swimming in the lake but when they JUMP up on the dock or waddle to the back door of the cottage, I freak. (A bit.)
And we have lots of pet ghosts around here - fond memories, too.

4:01 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Donna, that's why I lock them up at night. But now there are a lot of dogs in the neighborhood that I trust less than the wild animals.

Anon, Those wood ducks are beautiful. Maybe I'll hang a box or two above my pond.

Chantel, an invitation for coffee over my duck story? I sure do dig that, Darlin ; )

Beth, a quackaphobic?

4:59 PM  
Blogger RobbKidd said...

Have you ever heard about the Peabody Hotel in Memphis where twice a day they parade two ducks from the elevator to the lobby fountain ? After a night out in Memphis I stumbled into them lobby and was thrown off guard. Anyway, I think ducks are the reason I became a vegetarian. After my parents lied to me for years and told me we were having chicken I kind of gotten attached to ducks and animals.


5:59 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Robb, they had both chickens and ducks, but I don't ever remember them dressing either of them. I think they were BS-ing you. Your mother wasn't the pioneer type. If it didn't come from the A&P she wouldn't eat it.

9:36 PM  
Blogger Mike S said...

Critters are neat. Seen the Memphis ducks several times showing folks around when I was there. In SE Asia they use geese to protect the other fowl from predators(including their neighbors). When I lived in RI a guy had them guarding his rental sailboats. We always had wild and domestic ducks on the farm. They each kinda staked out a different pond portion to use in summer. Best tastin' noise I ever heard.(we were a working farm growing food, milk, meat, and plants)

Guy, Sunday was 'Maple Sugar Sunday' here when they entertain the flatland city folk for a day of mapley fun. Sap started running, albeit a mite sluggishly, last week. Should be better this week. It was -4F at 0300 and a warm 36F this afternoon. Damn near bathing suit weather here:)

12:19 PM  
Blogger nootka said...

Gotta love this.
My nootka shows up now and then, though she crossed the road at the wrong time, now 3 years and four months ago. She was just 11, but they sure do become a part of the landscape, don't they?

I wonder how it will be when our old "Gramma Pony" goes. She's 32 this year, and we've owned her almost 13 years.

5:01 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Yes, expensive lawn ornaments.

7:58 PM  

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