The pond is quiet.
A long time ago (okay, this past spring), when I started free-ranging my chickens and ducks, I released my six Pekins to the pond.
One by one, they began to disappear. I couldn’t capture the last duck. Those ducks hadn’t been trained to come to me. They weren’t sleeping in the chicken house at night, not after I released them. Ducks don’t come back like chickens. Ducks don’t roost. This one lonely duck waited on the pond for her friends to come back, but they never did. And she wouldn’t come to me.
I still had more ducks, though. I had hatched out three ducklings in my incubator from Mr. and Mrs. Duck. This pair of mixed breed ducks came from a farmer friend a few miles away. When I released the Pekins (which came as ducklings from the feedstore), I kept Mr. and Mrs. Duck in the chicken yard, not wanting to release them until their babies were grown. Finally, the three ducklings were big enough and I let them all out together. Mr. and Mrs. Duck performed a mercy mission and went down to the pond, wrapping that lonely Pekin in their feathers. They brought her back up to the farmhouse and the goat yard. She wouldn’t come to me, but she was more than happy to go to them. And so I had six ducks. They had all sorts of adventures, some of them pretty entertaining. Then one day Mrs. Duck disappeared. I wondered if she had made a nest somewhere and was refusing to come home. I worried. I trained the chickens and ducks to come back to the chicken house at night with cracked corn. I felt better. They found the pond. Everyone was so happy!
Then Mr. Duck disappeared, too.
And then, a few days ago, the three ducks hatched from the eggs I incubated from Mrs. Duck disappeared, too. They were in the goat yard all day. A few hours before it was time to round everyone up with cracked corn to go back to the chicken house, they vanished.
Leaving her alone.
And I don’t have any more ducks to befriend her, to wrap her in their feathers.
I let all the chickens out of the yard for the day yesterday morning. The lonely Pekin waddled out, looking, quacking. Desperately. Lonely ducks are desperate ducks. I picked her up and took her to the porch. I didn’t want her to be lonely.
I thought about taking her inside, fixing up a room for her. Setting her a place at the table.
That didn’t seem quite workable.
So I took her back to the chicken yard and gave her some water and all the scoopings from a pumpkin I was baking. And I promised her I would keep her safe.
And I promised her I would get more ducks in the spring. A LOT MORE DUCKS.
And I promised her that every once in a while I’d take her up to the porch for special goodies and to sit on my lap.
I don’t know what keeps happening to the ducks. I don’t know if they run away to the river. I don’t know if something is getting them in the woods. I just know it never happens to this duck. This duck is mine.
And I’m gonna make her a real pet.