RG Meets the Ducks

July 5, 2008

Later we went to visit the Friendly Neighbors and their new families consisting of four ducks and about a dozen chickens.

The ducks were digging in mulch, apparently fishing out slugs to consume. For gardeners, eating slugs elevates ducks to a status somewhere close to Mother Teresa caring for lepers. The Friendly Neighbors guided the ducks to their “cold tub,” a small pond about five feet in circumference, so RG could see them cavort in the water.

Their pool was rather dirty, as the ducks get very dirty, especially their bills (from constantly rummaging in the dirt), and the ducks bathe frequently. Mr. Friendly Neighbor has constructed a clever drainage system so the pool can be emptied and flow water on to garden plants as it drains. He refilled the pool with clean water, much to the ducks’ delight. (They notice the difference between a tub full of dirty water and a tub full of clean water.)

Once the ducks realized they had clean water, they began diving and splashing to clean vigorously.

The Friendly Neighbors introduced the ducks to us: Mr. D., the drake, and Zelda, his main squeeze, are mallards. The two brown ducks, Lucy and Sarah, are Khaki Campbells. The ducks muttered companionably, much to Mrs. Random’s delight. She loves the sound of duck muttering. Although my wife is a chickadee, she mutters frequently, much like a duck. (My wife is also a nuthatch, explaining quite a bit about my daughter.)

Although Zelda was behaving herself, the Friendly Neighbors explained that Zelda is quite loud, opinionated, and assertive. In fact, even as we watched, Zelda pecked the drake vigorously. Instead of pecking her back, he removed himself from the duck cool tub, indicating he is seriously henpecked. RG sat on a bench and watched the ducks intensely. When they splashed her a bit as they cavorted, she chuckled, finding the splashing refreshing and enjoyable.

Of course, she may really have been chuckling at how Zelda was pecking the drake, picking up tips for her future domestic life.

Caution to future spouse of Random Granddaughter: prepare yourself for your diet of slugs.


7 Responses to “RG Meets the Ducks”

  1. truce Says:

    Can’t you borrow Zelda and her squeeze for a few hours a week to keep the strawberry slugs at bay? I’m sure RG and Mrs Random could explain their duties to them in duck-speak…

  2. modestypress Says:

    We have talked with the Friendly Neighbors about borrowing the ducks. As we live a quarter mile away, it’s a bit of a trip for them and other details are complicated also, but the idea is certainly under active consideration.

  3. Pete Says:

    Ducks can be mean! And definitely dirty. We had ducks one summer and they mated and we had ducklings. Momma duck drowned them all. WHat a bitchduck!

  4. modestypress Says:


    We had a pair of Muscovy ducks when I was in junior high in Brea (Orange County) California.

    1) Muscovy ducks do not quack. They hiss like geese.

    2) The mail duck was as mean as the ducks you describe. He constantly attacked us, like a goose.

    3) He was so aggressive, we finally decided he had to be converted to a duck dinner. One of our neighbors (used to slaughtering fowl) offered to take him out for us. I held him while she wielded a hatchet. We ate him that evening.

    4) Before he was guillotined, he mated with mama duck, who hatched ducklings in a nest in our basement (which opened to the outside). We had chickens as well as ducks.The chickens periodically escaped from our poorly constructed chicken yard and hid their eggs. Somehow a chicken egg got into the duck nest. Mama duck hatched about eight ducklings and one baby chick. Baby chick imprinted on Mama duck and thought it was a duckling. I wondered what would happen when Mama duck took her babies (including baby chick) for their first swim.

    5) We never found out. A varmint got into the basement some night and in the morning all the ducks and chick had became some creature’s dinner, evidently. At least they were gone and we suspected (getting a grip on self) foul play.

    On our island, we have coyotes, foxes, rats, weasels, eagles, owls, hawks and meth lab operators. I have seen all these creatures (except the meth lab operators), but they are harder to recognize on a casual passing on the road than the other beasts of prey, so I may have looked at them and not realized what I was looking at.

    The Friendly Neighbors have an electric wire around their chicken yard and a wire roof over the hen/duck house. They have not lost a fowl yet, but it’s still early.

    My wife has her heart set on ducks and chickens for next year. Because of my childhood experiences, I am less enthusiastic, but I have no doubt there are fowl in my future.

  5. pandemonic Says:

    Duck droppings are also good for the garden.

    If your wife gets the ducks, and you need a good duck recipe, let me send you one based on the products of the Frozen Tundra state where I reside. Yum, yum.

  6. Pete Says:

    Our chicken coop is built into the garden. When there are no crops (Sept to march) the chickens get to run around the whole garden, thus providing the natural fertilizer. they also make for a wonderful garbage disposal, and little garbage ever goes in the trash. I built a walk-in coop with fencing for a roof to keep out enemy critters. It works quite well.

  7. modestypress Says:

    Pete, the Friendly Neighbors’ fowl coop is constructed similar to yours. However, it is a duplex containing both chickens and ducks. The birds are sociable and stand by the Friendly Neighbors’ back door clucking and quacking for them to pay attention to their fowl. Also, the entire compound, as I mentioned, is surrounded by an electrified fence, to discourage varmints.

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