There are nine ducklings at Walnut Kitchen Homestead. They arrived late one night, procured by Farmer P. from one of those places that supplies all the farming equipment imaginable. Farmer P. brought to WKH: four Rouens (Hooey, Dooey, Looey, Fooey), two Fawn and White Runners (Drip, Dunk), two white ducks – probably Pekins - (Donald, Daisy), and one Magpie (Passamaquoddy). Adding ducklings was not a spur of the moment idea, rather an accumulation of months of research and discussion by our family. Hence, there were some preconceived notions formed. Never believe everything you hear when it comes to animals. Foolishly, we had assumed that their behavior, growth and appearance would resemble that of chickens, just with more of an attraction to water. We were wrong.
Our fellows turned out to be real complainers. Without ceasing, they complained from morning ‘til night. For some reason, they find fault with everything. You can imagine the remarks:
“These pine shavings are too spiky.”
“This water isn’t deep enough.”
“I don’t like the interior décor, the metal is not of my taste.”
“There is no green.”
“This food is repulsive. I want dried currants.”
“I find the company of other ducks demeaning to my personal integrity.”
“Why did they give us such awful names? Seriously, they could have been more original than Dunk.”
“How do they expect us to make ourselves comfortable with this red light shining on us all the time?”
“I want to play explorers, but there are no hats that are our size.”
These complaints continued for a few weeks. To minimize the possibility of us hearing their whining, we placed the ducklings outdoors in a pen during the daytime. Very soon, we found that the ducklings were ready for more than just their small amount of drinking water. We accommodated this wish. Then they wanted more than just two inches of water. We found ourselves more than willing to supply a deeper trough. The ducklings now had six inches of water. It didn’t take them long to start complaining how shallow the water was, so I asked my dad what to do, because we had no other containers that were suitable for them to climb in, swim in, and poop in.
With one day’s hard work from my dad, the ducklings had a new home. Reusing the old pig house (from when the pigs were little piglets), some chicken wire and t-posts, a comfortable run overlapping the creek and a shelter for night was constructed. The ducklings stopped complaining for a few days.
Soon enough, with hot weather and little rain, the creek began to dry up. This sparked a renewed interest in the ducklings to explore farther than ever before. Before they embarked on any sort of perilous journey, they agreed that they must acquire supplies, so no one would die of hunger. Drip thought it would be best to record all of their comings and goings in a papyrus book they made from the grasses on the creek bank. Somewhere along the journey, a few of the pages blew away with the raging Kansas wind. These I have recently found, and below you can read them.
Day 1All nine of us explorers headed out to face unknown danger. We expect to face many obstacles in the days ahead. Passamaquoddy thinks it is quite likely that we shall find a dragon. Daisy hopes nothing more dangerous than a skunk will cross our path. Personally, I think it would be nice to see a real raccoon. None of us (except wimpy Daisy) have any fear of being eaten or hurt, because Dunk has some very sophisticated strategies to help us escape danger, or if need be, fight. Most of us prefer the idea of fight, compared to flight. It is not that we can actually fly, because our wings feathers are not in yet.
Day 2Our travels have led us to the bend - the bend that hides our home. All of us have started understanding what homesick means. Hooey wishes to go back and call it quits. However, ducks do not just quit. We persevere. Passamaquoddy gave an invigorating speech about the duties and dignity to which all ducks should adhere. Needless to say, the speech was long and very time consuming. Our party did not travel much farther than the bend.
Day 3Today we met our first enemy. He insulted us by calling us “vile, tiresome, noisy intruders.” None of us liked him much. After him taunting us for a while, Dunk called on us to execute plan #8. We charged. That puny pathetic snake slithered away. In light of our first victory, we threw a party. It was a real whopper. We had flower balloons and firefly glow bands, chocolate mud cakes and slug slushies. It was a productive day, and we made it to the first dam.
Day 4This morning Donald thought he would lead us in a community service project. “This,” he stated, “would be the epoch of helpfulness, the climax of constructiveness, this would mark an era of enthusiasm for energetic behavior.” Admittedly, it took some questioning to understand exactly what he was referring to, but it ended up that he wanted our help to clear some of the algae that had accumulated in the creek. Although there was some concern as to whether this undertaking would be of much use, we decided to approach this task with zeal. By the end of the day, the stream had such a sparseness of green that we suspected that algae has become an endangered species of plant.
Day 5We spent the day singing. This is not a pleasant sound when compared to a nightingale or a robin, but it does have a unique tone. Possessing a party of nine, with girls and boys alike, our voices mingled nicely. In this account of our doings, I think it only right to include a few snippets of the songs we sang.
“Oh, a willow, a willow, we laid you on a pillow, so precious to me, to grow a tree, until we met an armadillo.”
“We came upon, a snail so dear, that glorious escargot of old, with tree leaves bending near the stream to touch their boughs of green.”
“‘Cause I’m a country duck, I got a four dam creek, climb on my bill, I’ll take ya for a swim. Up winding rivers, down moving streams. Hey, I can get ya where you need to go, ‘cause I’m a country duck.”
“Ding Dong! The algae’s dead. Which green algae? The massive algae! Ding Dong! The green algae’s dead! Wake-up sleepy duck, preen your feathers, get out of bed. Wake up the green algae’s dead!”
“In sleep he clucked to me … In streams he came … That roo which calls to me, and crows my name. And do I dream again? For now I find … The Phantom of the Chicken Coop is now inside my mind.” (Only the girls sang this song.)
A hint of wisdom from the farmers at WKH. If you ever get ducklings, remember, they are adorable when they are babies, but they grow ever so fast. Have a structure already built for them before you buy any. Ducks also have a strong flock mentality, so don’t expect to ever be able to separate them. They love water, so buy lots and lots of bedding material, because it gets sopping wet every night. If you see any slime stuff in their drinking water, it is most likely regurgitated food. Oh, yes, they are a whole lot of fun!