Peep Show

Four dogs immediately knew that something had changed.  Four noses sniffed my clothing, inspecting each fold, uninterested in the wavy bacon treats I offered in my hand.  Four sets of eyes watched as I set up an old dog crate on the sun porch.  Keenly they stared as I lined the bottom of the crate with newspaper and reinforced the sides with cardboard precisely measured at twenty inches using my quilting ruler and rotary cutter.  I attached a heat lamp at the top and added a sleeping platform lined with old flannel at the back.  Food and fresh water was placed in a garden tray at the front.  All that was left to do was to just add ducks.  After removing four stubborn dogs from the sunporch I did just that.

Four dogs drooled on the sliding door glass, fogging up their view.  I decided it was time to introduce the dogs to the ducks, one dog at a time with the help of the Englishman.

Molly, who had celebrated the second anniversary of her twelfth birthday according to the Englishman, was a perfect lady.  She glanced in the crate, turned away as if to avoid appearing rude and returned to the house.

Chase watched the ducks intently.  Rudeness did not concern him in the least.  Chase pointed.  His paw trembled.  When a long strand of saliva pooled at his paws, I removed him from the porch.

George pushed and pawed and barked.  Charlie, who was vertically challenged, prodded and probed the lower portions of the crate with his needle-like nose.  The ducks were oblivious to the dangers lurking outside the shelter of their crate.  The Englishman was not oblivious and insisted that I find out how long it would be for the ducks to grow up enough to have a permanent outside residence and defend themselves against the four-pack.

Like any other urban farm girl, I turned to Google.  After typing in my search words, I found a blog created by a couple, who like me, were clueless in duck care.  They had two dogs to introduce to the ducks and recommended ignoring the advice from the duck book (apparently one does exist).  

According to the blog, ducks don't differentiate between a human and a dog.  It's all the same to the duck.  This did not seem like a good thing to me.  This couple hatched their own ducks and documented their rapid growth on a daily basis.  At four weeks, the ducks were old enough to stay outside.  They unfortunately did not indicate whether the ducks could beat up the dogs at four weeks, although they did state that it took about a week before the dogs began to ignore the ducks.  
Armed with my new information, I boldly relayed my findings to the Englishman.  He asked me the age of our ducks.  Reluctant to display my complete ignorance, I returned to the blog that I was now consulting religiously and compared a duck to the daily photos posted.  I decided that my ducks were two weeks old.  The Englishman smugly quipped that I had two weeks to build a duck house.  My green ideas of re-purposing an old wooden dog crate or using a couple of pallets from work were rejected.  Back to the blog.  I bookmarked the detailed instructions and pictures on a custom duck house and pen.

The Englishman seemed temporarily satisfied with my plan and we decided to work with the dogs and ducks a bit more.  With the ducks roaming freely on the sunporch and our dogs in a choke hold, we spent time with each with mixed results.  Molly continued to ignore them.  Chase no longer drooled but was completely focused on the fowl.  George growled.  George did not approve of ducks...especially baby ducks.  Charlie made strange sounds with his mouth.

After the weekend was over, the ducks were visibly stronger and the four-pack was back to poking around in the yard doing dog things.  What I believed to be impossible, the mixing of ducks and dogs, seemed a bit more feasible with my creatures great and small.  Now in the evenings, I was more comfortable leaving the door to the sunporch open.  I could catch a glimpse of the dogs sitting quietly in front of the cage watching the peep show within for a few minutes at a time, before finally losing interest and returning to the comfort and familiarity of the house and their dog beds.


Just Wing It

I should be banned from the Tractor Supply store in the Spring.  In the center of the store, six silver galvanized barrels with heat lamps were coralled together bearing tiny balls of fluff with feet.  Dust bunnies they were not.  Peeps, tweets, flutters and pecks emerged from within as I peered over the railing into the bins below.  I smiled at the perfect webbed feet, the tiny bills and awkwardness of a pile of baby ducks.

I wanted one.  I needed one.  I demanded one.  I stomped my foot and pouted.  The man in my life told me "NO", firmly in his English accent that made it clear there was no room for discussion.  Still, I tried to reason that we had a pond which was perfect for ducks.  I was reminded, quite sensibly, that we also had four dogs, one of which was a bird dog.

I complained to my friends about the unfairness of the situation.  I lamented over the fact that the ducks were super cute.  I whined.  I stomped my foot and pouted.  They listened to my plight of woe and agreed that I did need a duck.  I deserved a duck.  Two weeks later, when I arrived at work on my birthday, I was presented with four ducks.  Fearing the reaction of the "Englishman", I emailed him a photo of my present.  He immediately responded with a single word: BOLLOCKS!!!

Undeterred,  I pretended to not understand the British slang and embarked on a needed trip to the local Tractor Supply store to buy a book on ducks.  There were none.  How a store that offered ducks for sale did not also sell instructions on how to raise them confounded me.  No duck food, no duck books....just lots of live baby ducks!  

I bought a chicken starter kit since it seemed close enough.  As I left the store in my five-inch Betsey Johnson floral wedges, I decided to just wing it.  How hard could raising ducks be?  Clutching my Mary Jane's Farm magazine in one hand and my peeping cardboard carrying case of ducklings in the other, I made my way home, eager to embrace my inner farm girl.