I knew straight away that something was wrong with my duck-assortment order. Only one of the twelve displayed a coat different from the others. I had eleven yellow ducklings and only one of another sort. I complained of this in a call to the hatchery and they explained they had sent what they had on hand but at the time of the Easter celebration about all they had on hand were Peking ducks; that is all anyone wanted.
So I put them in a cage, draped with a bed sheet and a heat lamp as a surrogate mother. They alternated throughout the day and night with waking and sleeping, peeping and quietude. They grew into Peking ducks and a solitary Swedish Blue.
The Peking duck in case you were raised on Mars, is the all white duck with the requisite yellow bill. They are highly inbred and very decadent. Decadence is defined as the inability to maintain the institutions you have create. To that end I would say, Peking ducks are so inbred that they no longer know the proper method of laying, sitting, hatching, and caring for their young. The vast majority of Peking ducks are raised in hatcheries. I once made the mistake of allowing a Peking hen to attempt the process of laying and hatching of several clutches of over three dozen eggs with the net profit of a single duckling. That, ladies and gentlemen, epitomizes decadence; keep it in mind for future reference.
The Swedish Blue is far less inbred and still retains the instincts that ducks should have and that, primarily, is to be among those of their kind and preferably to be among as many of the females of the species as possible. The one Swedish Blue duck I received I named Lonely-Boy, for obvious reasons.
Lonely-Boy had very dark purple plumage, grading into iridescent green ticking along his neck, a white bib and greenish-yellow legs and bill. He was a handsome fellow but it soon became apparent to the other ducks that Lonely-Boy was different in those obvious and ways. The Peking ducks discriminatory behavior began simply. When feed was provided, he was pushed out. When it came time to crowd into the duck house for the night, he was compelled to sleep on the roof. But don’t worry, ducks have a very thick layer of down and in spite of the layer of frost on his back in the morning, I am sure he was quite comfortable. Ducks are hardy creatures.
But hardest of all, Lonely-Boy was cut off from the primal-animalistic source of all affection…sex. Yes, Lonely-Boy liked to be with the Peking females, and I have no doubt that the females liked him too. He was after all, a dark and mysterious fellow. What could be more alluring?
But the males of the Peking breed had a problem with that and attacked and beat the stuffings out of him every time he charged into their midst to satisfy his desire. The squawking and honking and complaining was terrible to hear and even more so when it occurred late at night and worst still when the mauling of poor Lonely-Boy took place beneath my bedroom window. What a commotion! Lonely-Boy was driven from the flock and condemned to sleep on the opposite side of the house from which he would make the occasional booty-raid.
I grew tired of it all and resolved to find Lonely-Boy a new home. So, I placed an ad, “Free duck. Pretty Swedish-Blue, other ducks don’t like him. Name…Lonely-Boy.” Several people called me. One snarlulous, gruff, old man, sounding rather drunk and tired complained that he had a solitary duck and a large pond but the other visitor ducks, being wild had flown and his remaining duck, being very domestic and lonely, was quacking night and day in an attempt to call back his long lost buddies. He hoped that another lonely duck would mollify his lonely duck and the two together would equal one happy duck. In retrospect I should have given him the duck.
Another person, curious about such an exotic advertisement inquired as to how one would keep such a creature. I explained that ducks being cold weather birds with ample layers of feathers and down, needed deep shade at all times and a pool for bathing. She asked if she would have to pick the duck up and place it in the shade, as if the duck was so stupid that it would sit in the direct, intense Arizona sun all day and roast in its own feathers. No, I explained, ducks have a brain in their heads. I put emphasis on the word “their.”
Last, but not least, a woman called and told me her parents owned property in Payson, Arizona with a stream that ran year-round, with other domestic ducks, and geese, and wild ducks and they fed them and they were happy and such and it sounded to me like ducky heaven and so I said, “Yes, please come and take him away.” So, she arrived and we proceeded to catch Lonely-Boy.
There is a difference between a domestic ducks and domesticated ducks. Domestic ducks are those that are bred for making large quantities of meat and eggs while domesticated ducks are those that have been handled frequently enough as to let you get near them whether they are a domestic ora “wild” breed. Lonely-Boy was domestic, but not domesticated, and he gave us a run for the money. After much tripping and falling and huffing and puffing, and with the other ducks running interference just for the hell of it, I finally cornered him and stuffed him into a box and consigned him to his new owner. And good riddance! She promised to write and send photos of Lonely-Boy in his new home and true to her word, within a week, she sent photos of him "dancing on the water" of his new stream and one of the wild ducks cruising down stream to inquire into the source of commotion and to welcome the new-comer.
It truly sounded like ducky heaven, until a few weeks later, when I receive another letter about the situation. She informed me that a cougar had been seen stalking about in the area and she inquired as to whether cougars would eat ducks? I responded that cougars would eat anything meaty they could get their jaws around. I never received another letter from her. I can only hope that, one way or the other, Lonely-Boy has found ducky heaven...lovely, misunderstood Lonely-Boy.
|Lonely-Boy dancing on the water|
|Wild ducks investigating the newcomer|