Duck Stuffing

As spring seamlessly flowed into summer, the humidity thickened the air so that the smallest amount of exertion required an immediate shower.  The Englishman and I halted our efforts in forcing Slinky, Myrtle, Thorn and Poison Ivy into their floating Quack Shack each night.  They seemed content to bed down in the lush green grass at the pond's edge.  We lived in a neighborhood with such novelties as paved roads and sidewalks so I had no concerns about crime against ducks.  In the morning when I let the dogs outside, one duck would sound a loud, solitary quack and the four would charge up the hill, wobbling back and forth as they demanded food.  In the afternoons, the ducks would lounge under the bushes near the driveway, waiting for the sprinkler to spray streams of cool water.  The ducks would race through the mist, wings spread for balance, as fast as their webbed feet would allow.  They shared their treats of frozen peas and corn with George and Charlie and would scatter as Chase ran through their small flock.

And then there were three.  Just like a classic Agatha Christie mystery, one morning Slinky was gone.  I searched the yard in vain.  That evening the Englishman searched the other pond.  No feathers, no duck parts, nothing.  We felt responsible because we had abandoned our efforts to train the ducks to use their floating duck house as shelter.  "It takes about a month," I reminded the Englishman as we vowed to continue the training each evening just before dusk.

The first challenge was to catch the ducks.  Ever practical, I armed myself with a red broom and chased the ducks around the yard until I could pin one with the bristles.  Thwack!!!  Once it was pinned to the ground I could easily pluck it up and carry it to the pond.  I discovered if I caught one, the others would follow.  The Englishman did not approve of my duck catching technique.  Apparently running wildly through the backyard waving a broom in the air was not dignified.  Tossing my broom to the side, he smugly proceeded to instruct me in the finer points of herding ducks.  Apparently in England, one is born knowing how to herd ducks as it is a part of English DNA.  I was missing the duck herding chromosome and needed to pay close attention to his tutelage.  I took notes:

1.  Approach ducks (without a weapon of mass destruction) and halt the advance when the ducks move away from you.  This is their "comfort zone".

2.  Spread out your arms as if you were going to fly.  Do not pretend to fly as it is not dignified and may alarm the neighbors.

3.  Take a step to the right to make the ducks move to the left.  Take a step to the left to make the ducks move to the right.  Do not put down your arms to check your hands to see which is the left and which is the right.  Take a step forward to make the ducks move forward.  "Let's do the time warp again!"

4.  Ducks do not move in reverse so don't bother trying this.

5.  The American Broom Method is quicker.

Once the ducks were properly herded onto the dock, the Englishman tenderly placed them in the duck house.  Their quacks echoed inside the house as we retreated to ours.  Each evening we continued our "stuffing the ducks into the house" chore with 100% human effort and 0% duck effort.  Small breakthroughs occurred though.  First, we noticed that if we put one duck inside the house, it would quack and peek out of the door until the other two finally decided to join it.  Next, the ducks began to wait at the end of the dock at dusk, ready to be stuffed into their house.  Finally, I realized that the ducks could fly when one evening, as I placed one duck on the platform and attempted to stuff it through the doorway, the other two jumped from the dock, flapped their wings and glided over the tin roof of the house, landing in the water several feet away.  A few moments later, they joined their companion inside the house.

Duck Stuffing.  It's not a recipe...it's a skill!


The Quack Shack

The Englishman wanted to park his car.  In our driveway.  In the exact spot where the cinderblock duck compound was erected.  Selfish.  He also didn't believe that the former duck house, which had since been christened Cluckingham Palace for our non-existent chickens, was an appropriate residence.  He wanted to build a floating structure to leave in the center of the pond, maroon the ducks and pull them in by a rope when we wanted to visit them.  I was horrified at his callousness. I complained to my employees as they had lent a sympathetic ear in the past to my woes.  My employees were not supportive.  Not only did they think it was a great idea, they offered suggestions and even described how to build such a structure.  I waited several days before disclosing the news to the Englishman.  I told him that he would need an old pallet, some styrofoam and a barrel.  He scoffed and reached for his graph paper, pencil, compass and protractor.  I retreated to count my shoes.  Again.

So during one of the hottest spring weekends in Georgia, the Englishman set out to construct a hexagon-shaped floating duck house. I was given the chore of painting it.  A simple task under normal springtime conditions; however the paint dried as fast as I could apply it.  The result was a clean, white house attached to a bright yellow platform.  A plastic green plank was added to the side so that the ducks could access the platform.  The tin roof was pressed into place with some difficulty and styrofoam was fitted beneath the structure with wire.

The moment had arrived to launch the Quack Shack and discover if it would float.  The Englishman and the English Boy carried the house to the pond and placed it on the back of the rowboat.  The English Boy paddled to the middle of the pond and while we held our breath, the Quack Shack was launched.  Amazingly, it floated!

It was time to introduce the ducks to their new piece of real estate.  I grabbed two ducks from the compound and stuffed them into a canvas shopping bag.  It took a few moments to catch the other two ducks but my persistence paid off as I dropped them into a second shopping bag.  All of the merriment was captured on video by the English Boy.

I placed one quacking and kicking bag into the boat and precariously sat on the edge of the seat while the English Boy paddled toward the white and yellow floating structure.  It looked like a hard-boiled egg.  The Englishman stood on the edge of the dock with the sole task of watching his two duck charges.  As I attempted to push a duck inside the house, the second duck escaped from the grocery bag, waddling freely throughout the boat.  Duck Number One wiggled out of my grasp and plunged into the murky water.  As he attempted to get back into the boat, Duck Number Two leaped out of the boat.  Ducks Three and Four dove from the dock and splashed into the water.

The sun was setting.  The tin roof of the Quack Shack gleamed in the fading light.  The English Boy continued to film his Youtube video, the link to which will never be disclosed by me.  Four ducks floated in the shallows of the pond, poking for food among the lily pads and scorning their beautifully constructed, sea-worthy home drifting nearby.