The Mother Duck Rides Again


Remember the white Pekin mama who lost one baby then trampled another? (See here if you missed that one.)
I took the four babies she had left and put them in a pen for safekeeping, along with seven Blue Swedish ducklings I’d gotten from a hatchery.
She wouldn’t leave them. She was dedicated, committed, obsessed with her babies, who were meanwhile bonding with their new buddies, the Blue Swedish. And they were all following Mother Duck as she paced outside their pen. And then!
Persistence pays off!
The ducklings got bigger and stronger, and she was still pacing around their pen, so I figured they were big enough and strong enough to not get trampled or lost–and I let them all out.
And she took not just her own four ducklings back–but all eleven of them! We let them out with her on Saturday and she hasn’t lost or trampled a single one and they’re all one big happy duck family. Mother Duck is SO proud.

And that is one good mother duck!

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The Little White Duck That Could


I love duck eggs. They make a great fried egg, and they’re awesome for baking. Duck eggs are huge, super jumbo size. I buy special dinosaur egg cartons for them, and I sell them when I have enough. I don’t always have enough because they hide them. The ducks are free-ranging, so they make their nests here and there and in secret spots. It’s like an Easter egg hunt every morning.

Eventually, one little white Pekin decided she’d had enough of me and she made a nest under the barn.

“I think I can, I think I can, I think I can hide my eggs!” the little white Pekin said.

Since I wasn’t about to crawl under the barn to steal her eggs, she got away with this and one day last week she proudly strolled out from under the barn with five babies–four fluffy yellow ones (which will feather out white) and one brown one. I have adult Pekins and Khaki Campbells, so apparently she’d been playing with the Khaki Campbells to come up with that little brown one.
I’d promised myself after I knew she had a nest under the barn that as soon as she brought out the babies, I was going to take them away for safekeeping. With dogs, cats, and everything else that might be lurking around here, the farm isn’t the safest place for free-ranging ducklings. But the scene was so sweet….

I wasn’t able to bring myself to snatch them away from her.

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can be a mother!” the little white Pekin said.

And yet, she lost one baby so fast, it changed my mind. The little brown one was gone in an hour. Just….gone. I’d come back to check on her, and all she had were the four little yellow ones. I searched everywhere for the little brown one, but no luck.

What also helped me change my mind was the way she kept trampling the babies. She couldn’t help it, her big flat orange feet are just so big, and they’re just so small…. She took them all down to the creek then ran back up the bank, with only three following because the other one was all gimpy and trampled. I had to rescue it and put it back with her. Then she ran through the grass in the barnyard and I watched the little gimpy one desperately flopping after her, helpless to keep up.

So I snatched them all up and put them in a pen beside the chicken house, to save their lives. The duck mama didn’t like this, she didn’t like it at all.
We’d just gotten seven Blue Swedish ducklings the week before, mail order from a hatchery. (One boy and six girls.) I put them in with the four fluffy yellow ones. They made fast friends.
And the mournful duck mother?
She’s still there.
Every day, all day.
Pacing around the pen, watching her babies.
I think I can, I think I can, I think I can still be a mother!

And one day, yes, one day, when they’re bigger and stronger and can handle her big flat orange feet and keep up with her in the barn yard, I’ll let them all out to free range. And by then? She’ll probably think all eleven of them are hers!

I’m pretty sure she’s a believer.

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The Slanted Little House

"It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse-—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either. My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die." Keep reading our story....

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