Yucky Ducky

When I was a baby, my mom made me my treasured stuffed animal.  She stitched the cheerful yellow fuzzy fabric together, filled it with white bits of poly-fil, added large wide eyes and a plastic duck bill.  I dragged my duck everywhere and Mom soon dubbed it Yucky Ducky.

It never occurred to me, not once, how utterly gross ducks are.  I have visited many a duck-laden pond and avoided the mounds, gobs and splatters of duck poop, careful not to mar my completely inappropriate yet fashionably fantastic footwear.  Ducks defecate everywhere.  Its messy.  And for reasons still not clear to me, I thought my ducks would be different.  How could something that looked so cute in the store be so disgusting?

I diligently cleaned their duck crate every day until the newly constructed duck house was ready for tenants.  Relieved and looking for a break, I placed my ducks, who visibly grew each day, inside and dreamed of the once a week cleanings with a smile.  The Englishman, ever observant, pointed out that the duck house would need a proper cleaning at least several times a week.  Annoyed with my lack of duck housekeeping skills and openly criticizing my upbringing, he demonstrated the brushing and scraping techniques required.  Like a street magician, he then produced a bottle of diluted ammonia and water to spritz throughout the interior to destroy germs and other imaginary critters.  After applying a horrifying amount of fly killer, he expertly tossed fresh sawdust chunks onto the floor and into the crevices.

Two days later, under the Englishman's watchful eye, I crawled into the duck house cursing his name and uttering impressive vocabulary gems like "Ick" and "Gross" and "OMG" and "Ugh".  I tried out the dust pan and brush technique.  After several minutes, I asked the Englishman to bring me the shop vac.  He refused and suggested that I, "Carry on and remain calm".  I scraped poo from the floors, the walls, the doors and even places that the darn ducks couldn't even fit!  It was dark by the time I had finished my task and I still needed to catch my ducks and return them to their house.

In the morning, it was painfully clear to me that duck house cleaning was going to be a daily chore.  During the night, the ducks had eaten all of their food.  I wondered if I was feeding them too much.  A quick check with my online duck sources revealed "no".  Unable to muster the energy to clean the duck house again, I added a second piece of trellis to the driveway cinderblock "duck compound" and began leaving them there permanently.  They had a pool, food and a secure space with shade.  They looked happy and I was happy.  Clean-up was a snap with the blast of the garden house.

The Englishman noticed the duck quarters after a few days, possibly due to the fact that he couldn't park his car there.  He was not amused.  He told me that it was time to paint the inside of the vacant duck house in order to preserve the bare wood from further mutilation.  He assured me that this would help with the clean up.  I was in favor of a putty color to match the duck poo but he insisted on white.  First, I had to clean the duck house.  Again.

I half-heartedly crawled back inside with a trash bag and began shoveling duck dung into the lawn bag.  The Englishman, in a display of solidarity, grabbed the hand brush to show off his superior cleaning abilities.  After a few moments, he dropped the brush and disappeared.  I could hear him rummaging in the garden shed.  He soon returned with an extension cord and the shop vac!  I glared at him as he smugly sucked up sawdust and waste, making quick work of the task and avoiding eye contact with me.

We quickly applied white paint to the floors and walls, leaving it to dry overnight in the Georgia heat.  The inside looked pure, clean and immaculate.  In fact, several days later, it still looked pure, clean and immaculate.  Four yucky duckies still resided happily in their cinderblock compound while their perfect duck house gleamed bright yellow and white - a solid architectural masterpiece in the garden.  A brilliant success and victory for me:  no ducks...no yuck!


Splish Splash...Four Ducks Taking a Bath

Got water? Just add ducks! Not only are they natural swimmers, they absolutely love it. The first time I gently placed each feathery duckling in the dogs’ green plastic turtle pool, they explored their new environment tippy-toe style on their webbed feet. Gingerly they each removed one foot and then the other. Suddenly four perfect baby ducks floated on the water’s surface.

Later I added old tile “pilings” to the water and a makeshift wooden ramp on the outside so the ducks could easily enter and exit their turtle “pond”. I laughed out loud as each duckling tested their water skills with such Olympic feats as diving, underwater record-breaking breath holding and free-style swimming.

It was immediately obvious that the largest of the four ducklings had mastered the art of water-proofing. Its feathers were perfectly dry while the other three had dripping yellow fluff plastered to their shivering bodies. Goose bumps were visible and their water time needed to be limited. Over the next few days, each duckling added water-proofing to their preening routine and all expressed a firm preference to remain in the pool instead of dry ground.

Their growth during this short time surprised me as their bodies’ lengthened legs and webbed feet thickened and they abandoned their futile attempts at swimming in their water bowl. I suspected that the ducks may have been a bit older than my earlier estimations.

As the Englishman steadily worked on creating a more suitable indoor and protected environment, we began to leave them in a roughly constructed circle of cinderblocks layered in three rows. I added a piece of lattice to prevent hawks and other predators’ access to a duck buffet. The plastic green turtle pool took center stage and was a crowd pleaser.

The ducklings were quite content with their outdoor play pen and happily floated in their pool from sun-up to sun-down. When I scooped them up at the end of each day to return them to their indoor quarters, they loudly peeped their displeasure with me, but quickly resigned themselves to their other favorite activities of eating and sleeping. I would check on them once more before turning out the light, pausing briefly to listen to their peeps and chirps while they gently dreamed of water.