Friday, June 27, 2008

I could kill for chocolate; willing to maim for naked barley

And thank goodness there are laws against such things, for I am a law-abiding citizen. Or at least I've managed to fake it pretty well over the years.

It's amazing that I've gotten very little done today and still manage to be utterly exhausted at the end of it. I've got the temporary duck enclosure up for the Big Ducks (ungrateful wretches) and the little ducks and the TubDucks are now out in the greenhouse. I came to the unwilling conclusion that the temporary enclosure can't be an overnighter because I really have no way of making it secure. I've been assured that there are owls in the area and I know that there are coyotes...not that the greenhouse could keep out a coyote when it couldn't keep out the ex-dog, but I'd like to discourage where I can. So until Duck Row (why do I keep wanting to type Duck Row Records?) is done, I'm going to be transporting 13 very unhappy and uncooperative Quackers from greenhouse to enclosure and back again. And I will report right now that an unhappy Quacker is a very loud quacker, unless it's a drake. In an unscientific poll, it appears that our Cayuga drake is still very much in residence (there was some doubt after the earlier fatality).

Sir Edmund Hilary is getting very fat and also very opinionated; it appears that SEH is almost certainly a white runner and most def'nitly female. Ghiradelli (the chocolate runner, of course) is a shy duck but also a quacker so there we are, two female runners and three undeclared. TBA is coloring up nicely but I don't know enough about the various duck colors to declare for one side or the other and the duck's voice hasn't broken either. Every other day I change my mind about whether I'm going to be the proud owner of a drake or a duck -- and let's face it, folks, TBA is hands-down my all-time favorite. Spoiled rotten wretch AND the duck knows it. Still, of all of the feathered critters in the back yard, the runners have been nominated Most Likely to Die of Old Age.

To my dismay, I'm learning the hard way that close quarters can lead to complications. Some of the ducks appear to be almost bow-legged, some severely so. I'm hoping that larger quarters will undo some of that damage but it's a very faint, slight hope. None of the runners are affected, thank goodness, but damn, I hate learning from the school of hard knocks. It's not fair on the critters involved. It could also be that large-breed ducks are prone to this sort of thing; the smaller the duck in the affected population, the less likely they are to be affected, and of course the runners are the lightest breed I've got.

The Saxony and Silver Appleyards are tanks. Huge, and the oldest aren't even a month old. I can just imagine what they're going to look like in November, full-feathered and market-weight (cue Jurassic Park theme). The Cayugas are developing their famous green-over-black sheen and the ungrateful, feral beasts are gorgeous. The Khaki Campbells and Golden Hybrids are virtually indistinguishable except for size and a slight difference in bill coloration (okay, I've officially gone round the bend...I can tell them apart by the tips of their bills??)

Of course, all of the Banshees want their very own ducks. I have told each and every one of them that they would have to earn the duck with extra chores around the house, that they'd have to earn the feed as well, and that they would be expected to help keep the duck areas clean and build the cages for their individual ducks. LB is too young to wrap her brain around the subject and EB hasn't shown that much interest in the work aspect, but MB was very much on-board. He got up first thing in the morning to help clear the back yard and just couldn't do enough. Now, if the boy wants a duck that bad, I'm willing to let him earn it -- but I did feel honor-bound to inform him that a duck can live up to twelve years and that once it was his, he was responsible for it for as long as it lived. Once he added up how old he would be if the duck actually lived that long, his enthusiasm dimmed just a bit. Actually I'm impressed with the outcome, since so many people can't wrap their brains around that bit of logic. I know I wasn't prepared for a cat to live for nearly two decades, but here she is, deaf and wobbly and still very affectionate. I figured it was worth the effort to drum it into somebody's skull that sometimes pets can live for a very long time. It's why I'll never get a tortoise or a parrot, thanks very much.

Right now I'm content to have the ducks as my hobby with the Banshees along for the observational opportunities. As with every other thing I've ever done with the Banshees in tow, I don't know how much they're going to learn; I'm not even sure exactly what they're going to learn. Sometimes you can be 100% sure that you're showing them one thing and then find out much later that they saw something completely different. It just works that way. I know when my mother raised poultry way back when, she would probably have bet that I would never, ever follow in her footsteps. Ever. And yet here I am with children and household and poultry and incipient vegetable garden, among other things.

There are differences. I, for one, will never raise snails. Life is too short to pursue the wily gastropod. Head cheese is not on my menu of to-do items (although mozzarella is a possibility). She never had a loom or a spinning wheel. I make soap and brew beer (okay, I should brew beer. I have everything required to brew except for maybe time.) She may have been a rough carpenter but she was way ahead of my skill set with a skill saw -- on the other hand, I'm a better welder. She drew well, painted well, cast bronze -- I need considerable help just to draw a straight line. Still, the crux of the matter may well be how she chased her dreams. Nothing (except for Calculus) seemed impossible to her, given enough time and effort. We had our issues and our disagreements and far too many things were left unresolved between us, but this is one attribute she passed along that I am grateful for: We never quit learning because there is always something new to learn. Oh, how I hope I can pass that on to her grandchildren.

1 comment:

Bobbisox said...

It sounds like things are really busy up thatway. I am pleased you are getting the hang of ducks and so far no more fatalities.
Oh, as for brewing, we are brewing in the morning, but just 5 gallons of brown ale to kickstart the brewing kettles and all the new stuff.