Making Hay

Week of October 14th, 2008 | The weather was cold and rainy.

Mr. Ducky's Story

By Sarah Holm

A mallard drake in search of a partner.

A mallard drake in search of a partner.

This was Mr. Ducky's first flight so he nervously circled while he got used to the sensation. After he was more confident, he started circling higher, intent on his destination. He was heading to the top of the silo, he had been watching the birds up there for weeks now and he was pretty sure he belonged with them.

He careened crazily at the top of the silo; he tried to stop but ran right off of it, bowling through the group of pigeons that had been perching peacefully. The pigeons rose up in a cloud. Getting over their shock, they settled down again, just in time for Mr. Ducky (who had been circling for another try) to scatter them again. This time he landed successfully.

Mr. Ducky ruffled his feathers in relief, then exuberantly flapped his wings and quacked loudly several times.

The pigeons had settled on the barn roof, and were gazing in angry amazement at the duck a few feet away sitting on their silo. When it quacked it scared some of them so bad they fell off the barn.

Mr. Ducky looked happily at the pigeons. They glared at him. He waddled forward a few steps and bobbed his head up and down politely. A few pigeons that were slightly mollified at this gesture of respect blinked their eyes solemnly. The rest continued to glare at the crazy duck that had the nerve to associate with them.

Mr. Ducky began waddling in circles, pecking excitedly at nothing, as if there was food on the roof.

That got the pigeon's attention. A few flew over to the duck immediately, the rest watched anxiously, ready to fly over as soon as they were sure there really was food.

Of course there wasn't, but the pigeons that were on the silo, after looking Mr. Ducky over very carefully, perched around him and ignored him. Mr. Ducky, while perhaps not whole-heartedly, had been accepted.

You see, Mr. Ducky was terribly lonely, the two brothers he had come to the farm with had both died. He had been horribly lonesome and had tried making friends with the chickens, but as chickens are even more snobbish than pigeons, and quite a bit nastier, after a few beatings he had given up.

He had taken to sitting on the slide in his swimming pool, gazing wistfully at the pigeons. They were more his kind, he thought, and then suddenly today the wind had given him a little push and he had flown.

We watched Mr. Ducky as he tried to become a pigeon. We felt so sorry for him. The pigeons just tolerated him. They never liked him. He was darker than the pigeons and we knew that he must get very hot on the metal roof, especially his poor bare feet. He hardly ever went swimming anymore, (pigeons don't swim, you see) and he was starting to look very bedraggled. When one day we found him walking down the road with two wild pheasants we knew we had to do something.

The county fair was in a few days and when it started we went to the petting zoo. I walked down the line of cages. I began to get worried, as all the ducks were either big ducks or ducklings. Then, at the end of the line, in a tiny little cage, was a small female mallard. She was very young, but an adult. She looked very tired and stressed, but underneath the dust, I knew she was beautiful.

I knelt by her cage and talked softly to her. She lifted her head gracefully and looked suspiciously at me. I tried to touch her through the bars, but she bit my fingers shyly and then, more afraid of her bravery than anything, she ran away. I smiled. Here was a lady warrior.

Mr. Ducky watched happily from the silo as the human girls cleaned his swimming pool. There was nothing more fun than messing up a clean swimming pool. Wait! They were opening a cage and putting something in the pool. What was it? He waddled forward, shouldering aside some grumpy pigeons. He turned his head to the side and peered anxiously. It was a duck! It was his mom! It had to be; it looked just like her! The humans had put her in the pool now and the duck was swimming. No it wasn't his mom. This duck was young, and very, very beautiful.

Mr. Ducky took off and circled the pool. He tried to land in it, but his days as a pigeon really hadn't helped his landing technique. He ended up hitting the side and falling out. He would have been embarrassed if he weren't so happy. He ran around and around the pool. Quacking madly, he told the girl duck how much he loved her, needed her, and how he had waited for her. She quacked back telling him how scared she had been and how safe and happy she felt now. Mr. Ducky finally got in the pool and the two ducks swam frantically around, over and under each other. They splashed each other, they quacked, and they gave each other duck kisses. Mr. Ducky showed her how to use the slide.

Then abruptly they both stopped and hopped out of the pool. Mr. Ducky spent the rest of the day giving Mrs. Ducky a tour of the farm. He never thought about the pigeons again.

Farm Fact: Ducks have a poor sense of taste. A Mallard only has about 375 taste buds, while we humans possess about 9,000 to 10,000. No wonder they like bugs and slugs!

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