Notes From a First Time Front Yard Farmer – Daisy

There are some mornings when I wish I hadn’t taken up front yard farming.  I don’t have these feelings too often, but when I do it’s usually because there’s a problem I can’t fix.  Today was one of those days. This morning I did my usual thing, after a bit of coffee, and twitter-surfing wake up, and went to let the ducks out, and found Daisy dead.

Daisy was our one-eyed, broken winged, rescue duck, she was probably a wild duckling an eagle had tried to eat, and was rescued by some well meaning, if misguided, folks. She lost an eye to the attack and was unable to fully close one of her wings. There was a scar down her back, so I suspect some vital tendons had been torn, and never healed properly. Daisy would never be able to fly.  But, these people had decided to save her. They set her up in a greenhouse with corn and feed and all the things a duck needs, mostly, really. Her eye was treated, and they took good care of her.  Things were going well until they decided they wanted to go camping, and realized Daisy couldn’t be left home alone. Which isn’t totally true, you can leave ducks alone for a few days and they get on just fine. You just have to make sure they have enough food and water while you are gone.  More than likely it had to do with the amount of work one needs to put in to take care of a duck. These people knew my dad, told him a story, and then he called and asked me to take the duck. I said no, and Dave went on some never-ending rant about the migratory bird treaty, followed by a selection of four-letter words. I have enough ducks and I’m not equipped to care for an injured rescue duck.  Frankly, it’s hard enough to manage care for one of my own injured ducks, let alone someone else’s. I thought that would be the end of it. About a week later, I got a phone call.  My dad given them my cell phone number.

Standing in the feed store, looking for duck feed, the lady on the other end of the line told me a story.  It was a creative story involving a business woman who sold chickens and ducks. There was a disgruntled employee who ordered a bunch, didn’t tell her, and then quit. Never mind that this business woman lived about 160 miles from the place in which these events were supposed to have occurred. All these birds arrived and she needed to sell them, and she did, all except for one little duckling, who she decided needed to take a “swim” in a pond surrounded by eagles before making the long drive home. Needless to say, the duckling was attacked, rescued, and brought back to health by this good samaritan spinning a delightfully complex and throughly unbelievable story on the other end of the line, who didn’t want the bird anymore because she wanted to go camping. Perhaps when she had originally rescued the duck she thought she’d be able to nurse the duck back to health, and she would fly away in the Fall, but once the scope of the damage to her wing was clear, it was obvious that wasn’t going to happen. Will I take the duck? I should have said no, but couldn’t, and we got Daisy. I wanted to believe the story, and I did, sort of, but when that duck got here, I knew.  She was not a domesticated duck. She was too small by half, and had every color of a wild mallard hen.  Not to mention I couldn’t find a picture matching her in any of my domestic duck breed books, or on the internet. Daisy was a wild duck and didn’t belong in my duck yard. Yes, I took care of her, what else could I do? At this point it just felt mean-spirited to drop her in the creek and let her get on with it. We put her in with this year’s batch of ducklings, fed her, made sure she had plenty of water.  They all seemed happy, in that stand-offish way ducks do, but I felt bad. In the Fall, Daisy would want to migrate, fly away with her kind, and there was no craft I know of to mend a wing that broken. She was grounded and no amount of wanting was going to fix it.


So, to swing back around to today. I put on my Boggs, rain jacket, and headed out to do my rounds. I opened the door to the duck-house and they all boiled out, quacking and bobbing their heads like normal, but no Daisy. Not too unusual. With only one eye, Daisy sometimes gets lost in the dark duck house. But she didn’t come. So, like normal, I poked my head in, getting ready to see where she was at, and talk to her. There she was lying motionless. I felt my stomach drop, and began to feel increasingly upset, and really, pissed-off. I’m not sure what happened. She looked fine yesterday, and everyone was getting along, but it doesn’t change the fact that she’s dead.

Daisy should never have been picked up. Was it mean for the eagle to grab a wild duckling for lunch? Not anymore than you or I going to the grocery store to pick out a chicken for dinner. These are wild animals, and that’s what they do. Sure, to some folks it seems heartless, but if the eagle missed his chance, that duck would have been food for some other hungry critter looking for his daily meal. Maybe you think it’s a bloodthirsty way to think of things, but that’s nature and it’s going on around us all the time. Rescuing an injured duck sounds like a good idea, and maybe if she were endangered, it would have been, but she wasn’t. Even then, if you feel the urge, call your local wild bird rescue.  They know how to properly take care of these birds. The only thing that came out of this was a dead duck. Which was precisely the sort of thing everyone was trying to avoid in the first place. All I can think now is that, I’m not taking ducks from anyone until I have seen it first, and that at very least, she is where she belongs. Maybe, just maybe, she’s flying around somewhere in the big blue sky, with plenty of safe spots to set down and munch on all manner of green things.


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