Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Tribute to a Duck

"Wings" who passed today, is the brown girl on the far left in the front

  When we moved to our first farm, some fifteen years ago, we had dogs.  We progressively added alpacas, then ducks and then chickens.  We wanted our children, especially Daniel, our youngest, to know how to care for animals and to enjoy them.  Then, eight years ago, when we sold the original farm, and rebuilt it elsewhere, most of the original animals came with us. Over all, we have been very lucky with most animals, and most of them have lived long lifespans for their breeds and type.  Of course, we never imagined that Daniel would go home to God at 12 1/2.  One of the ways we have had of remembering Daniel and honoring him, has been to care for the animals he cared so much about.  Of course, most of them are quite elderly now, and we now have a farm filled with geriatric critters.  Most of the time, it's easy to be philosophical about their being likely to pass soon.  However, it's not so easy to be positive when some of them do. This week, three avians, Ross the Rooster, Heather Hen, and now Wings have passed, after long lives, but in extreme heat despite good care. Most of the Eastern Seaboard and Texas are absolutely embroiled in high temperatures, recurrent storms and have serious grid damage.  The passings of these animals is a reminder that Daniel is gone, and now his animals, one by one, are going with him.
                  When Daniel was very small, one Easter I bought a number of tiny Khaki Campbell ducks.  Daniel was delighted with these teeny brown ducks. That year we also bought a few Silky Swedes, who were also the same age as the Khaki Campbells.  Daniel was a little annoyed when he found the ducks couldn't enter water when they were tiny, and needed to play in water when they were older.  We were very lucky.  None of the original little ducks died, and they grew into lovely intelligent small ducks who were good egg producers.  A duck egg is not only larger than a hens egg, but it has more protein.  When used in cooking, baking a cake for example, it will cause a cake to rise higher and be lighter than normal.  Duck eggs make fabulous omelets, and although they are a little gamier tasting that chicken eggs, they virtually taste the same, if you add chopped chives, scallions, or chopped onions.   For Sunday breakfasts, I often made omelets with duck eggs, chopped chives and small pieces of cheddar cheese.
                   Those original ducks are about fourteen years old now.  In the wild they do not last nearly as long, but in ideal circumstances, a Khaki Campbell can last 10-15 years.  We have been aware that one of them was failing. She did not look as well as she had, and her wings did not seem to be held as high as they had been. Of course, that continued for three years and the vet was unimpressed, telling me that in our climate, our animals were doing quite well.
                   In the extreme heat of the last few days, I made arrangements to remain at home.  We have been hosing down alpacas, nursing a sick rooster in the barn until his passing, and cooling and checking dogs, ducks and chickens every two hours during the day. We know that many are elderly, and that the weather is hard for them, even in shady housing.   Daniel named the ducks Aflac, Stretch, Plucky, Splash, Snow, Wings, and others names which escape me just now  This evening, we found the girl with a floppy wings dead near the side of the fence, presumably due to old age.  I think she was "Wings."  Wings was walking around and fine about an hour before that.   This is three avian deaths within one hot week.  Although I understand that all that comes from God must return, I would love to hold on, particularly to Daniel's animals, a bit longer.
                 Daniel, we honestly are taking good care of your animals here. It's just that things are hotter and tougher than they were, and many of your animals are elderly now.  We still have a few dogs you would know.  I miss and love you so.
                  Thank you God, for all the people, and all the animals you have chosen to share with us on this  trip to Earth.   May I please you, as I learn to walk in your way.

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