As many of you know I my family and I are now the proud farmers of 6 ducks. We used to have 7 but I managed to kill one (well it died, but in order to protect the hearts of my children I will not divulge the rest of that story). This has been an interesting addition to our lives as my kids learn about farming, about the difference between fertilized and unfertilized eggs (great way to start a birds and bees discussion), as well as dealing with death. I told my children before we went and bought the ducks that we would not be taking extraordinary measures to heal the ducks. I found out that my youngest talks very matter-of-factly about Hazel’s (yes she had a name) death while one of my sons takes the death deeply to heart.
Lately though I have found that free-ranging our ducks has taught me a great deal about human behavior. This is a lesson that I think that all of us know but I need to be reminded of lately. We got ducks for several reasons:
First, because everyone else had chickens and I wanted to be unique. Second, because they are better egg producers than chickens and are supposed to be more hearty. Third, and the reason that we looked at it in the first place is because our yard has a big pond. The pond is a seasonal pond, but in the winter it is the size of a basketball court (or a hockey rink) and is very deep. We thought that the ducks would love to have this huge, well protected pond to themselves and the few wild ducks that use it.
Here is the problem; they won’t go in it. They have had multiple opportunities as they wander around our yard they have come within feet of the shoreline but they are more comfortable on the ground than in the water. One day I tried to set two of them in the pond and they shot out of there so fast that you would have thought the water was boiling (it wasn’t).
So one might think that they don’t like water, as though ducks could ever not like water. They LOVE water, they splash in their pools everyday, they make a mess out of their water trough, and they will go sit in any puddle they find. In fact, they will walk around our house and sit in the puddles in the middle of our road before they would walk 20 feet to get into our huge pond. For the ducks the answer to why this is would have to come down to two things. The first would be how they were raised. They are almost a year old and we did not take them out into the pond when they were ducklings. This is partly due to the fact that the pond itself was only a mud puddle up until about 2 months ago. This also is partly due to fear, a mud puddle is small, controllable, and friendly. The pond is huge, deep, and full of unknowns.
How often have I avoided the amazing things that I was built for because it was unknown or because I felt scared. There is no doubt that those ducks would love that pond, and I hope that I can get them to turn the corner. Ducks were made for ponds not puddles.