Sometimes in moments of pure existential dread, a light shines through. Sometimes impulsive decisions turn out to be part of some holistic synchronicity that defies explanation.
Earlier this week, before the Texas tragedy, I accompanied my moms to Tractor Supply as they needed more duck food (for the resident swan and other waterfowl they meet on their twice daily walks) and plant food. I hadn't been to a Tractor Supply since 2015 for a shot clinic with my rescued dog at the time, Angel. I'm not really the country music, cowboy boots, baseball caps with guns type. Surprise! BUT I heard there might be baby birds and I was curious.
Yes there were baby birds, no I didn't buy any. I did pick up a bag of tree spikes (long term tree food), a Venus Fly Trap growing kit for V, and a wadding pool with a dog bone motif for Boo.
Boo was not a fan of the pool, but I left it full as she was happy drinking from it.
Yesterday I received a number of PMs and @s on Facebook. I am known in my neighborhood as "The Swan Lady" and all around bird lover. I learned that minutes before said flood of correspondence, one of the Pekin ducks that had been introduced to our retention pond by "owners" unknown, had been by an alligator. The gator had just moved into the pond the day before. I was told she was alive, but in bad shape.
I was at my parent's house a little less than a mile away, borrowed by father's bicycle because I still don't have a license or car, and peddled like hell (though not well) to my neck of the (not) woods. I found my next door neighbor Steve (also from NJ) standing over the bloodied and cringing duck. Turns out he had witnessed the attack and already contacted numerous animal rescuers and wildlife management, none would take a Pekin duck. I had brought a reusable grocery bag with me (it's not like I was planning for this event) and Steve and I managed to fit Winifred (my family's name for this bird) in the bag and tie the straps together to sort of hold her in. Steve got back in his car, I got back on my father's bike, with the duck bag on my right shoulder, and attempted to ride home.
I wish I had a photo of this scene. Needless to say, not graceful. At. All. Very shortly into the trip, I had to dismount and walk the bike, with the duck bag fighting me the entire time. I was so focused on the bird, I went right past my house, quite a bit. I came to from my bird fugue, turned around and went back to my house. I dragged my father's beautiful bike as close to my front door as possible because I trust almost no one, and let myself into the backyard through the new gate I was so glad I hadn't locked. At this point the bag, bird, and I, all smell like duck shit. Once in the yard I immediately released Winifred (Fred) near the wadding pool and went inside to get food. Of course I always have waterfowl food. Who doesn't? I put Fred in the pool and sprinkled food. She ate like she had never seen food before. To be fair she's always been greedy. After she had eaten and had some water, I lifted her out of the pool to inspect the damage. A large portion of her left foot, is gone. The middle toe had two compound fractures and I had to carefully inspect her belly before being able to determine, only her foot was actually injured. Although she's lost most of her tail feathers. I watched her for quite a while, Boo came out and saw she was there and decided that she's not interested in being besties with waterfowl. And then I had to leave again.
I should mention, the Pekin ducks are my daughter's absolute favorite on the pond other than her two geese. Yes, I consider this pare of Canada Geese hers, and she's theirs. You have to see it to believe it, but it's true. Anyway... Hubs got home from work and I texted him to check on Fred before coming over to get V and I. When he showed up I (away from V) asked how Fred was, and he said she looked good. So I told V we had to get home right away because I had a surprise for her. She decided the surprise just had to be an animal, but when she saw Fred, she was wide eyed with tween joy. I checked on Fred's foot, and she has a good scab and had pulled out the fragments of bone. Go Fred! She can very gingerly hop/scuffle along, but she seemed even sadder than the pain and trauma would account for. Ducks are incredibly social, and she had been raised and released with her BFF/life partner, who we call Ethel. (Apparently others called them "Donald and Daisy" because Donald/Fred is so much bigger that they just assumed she was a drake.) So "Operation Grab Ethel" had to be accomplished. George disagreed. He though Fred would be okay to return in a couple of days. Dood, she's missing a third of her foot. No. So he went upstairs to lay down, and I snagged V, a string backpack, and my "waterfowl visit bag" (grocery tote with beach towel and food). Of course George came down while I was gathering supplies. I just said V and I were going to check on the other birds at the pond, we won't be long, I don't have my phone it's charging, don't worry!
V and I walked hand-in-hand to the pond and found Ethel looking quite sad even though three Mallard drakes were near her. While V and I made sure no one was around, I tempted Ethel with the food, snagged her, and unceremoniously shoved her in the string bag. Immediately we gathered ourselves, the two bags, and duck, and went home. Again the bag, duck, and I all smell like duck shit quite quickly.
When we got home, I went in through the gate again, and released Ethel right in front of George. He smiled. I smiled. "I don't always listen to you! But I do sometimes. Just not this time." He laughed. Winifred IMMEDIATELY hobbled toward Ethel and they've been no more than two feet from each other since the reunion. This morning there was even a beautiful fresh duck egg in the middle of my yard.
George, sweet George, still thinks the ducks are going back to the pond. He hasn't noticed that I never say anything in response to that assertion. He keeps saying they aren't pets. Actually they are, that's why this happened. Pekin ducks are pretty much entirely defenseless and should never have been on that pond in the first place. So now I have ducks. Soon enough so will George. In the mean time I told him I'd tell the twins (my bonus girls) about them and they have to stay at least until they visit in July. Stay tuned...
I'm Kirsten. Some things you could label me with; tattooed, geek, mama, animal lover, weirdo, nerd, writer, movie and TV addict, lazy, ambitious, insomniac, feminist, LGBTQ+.