Friday, April 22, 2011

Harvest Day

Ducks are fine creatures and if a bond can be made they are among the finest pets a person could have. When my package of ducks, advertised as a variety pack arrived, I found it contained only one Swedish Blue and twelve of the Peking breed. I had made the mistake of ordering around the Easter celebration when everyone wants the yellow hatchlings. As the loading of the package was up to the hatchery, and about the only ducks they had available were Pekings, I received a small swarm of peeping and cheeping, mostly yellow ducklings.

The ducks grew into eight drakes and five hens. The hens soon began laying four eggs each day more than I needed. I tried them scrambled, fried, poached, as eggnog, as quiche, as dog treats. I am not a great egg eater and began to choke on the overabundance. Meanwhile, the drakes spent all day, every day, squabbling about who "owned" the hens. The commotion they created prompted me to begin honing a grudge against them in an effort to overturn any moral compunction that might restrain my harvesting a succulent duck. The leverage worked and a "Harvest Day" was declared.

By surreptitious means I snagged a duck. The process is quite simple. You need only place a tasty morsel, such as a worm, in your hand and offer it. A duck will rush up to snag the treat and when it does so, you snag it in turn by the bill. This method can be used only once as the others will observe your deviousness and word or should I say the “Quack!!” will spread quickly throughout the flock and you will never be allowed within ten yards of one of them again...ever.

So, I tucked the duck under my arm and as a consolation prize for making this his last day on Earth, I dubbed him “Freddie”, a name I intended to award to all such future volunteers. I carried Freddie to a cage behind the house and conveniently near a water barrel that I would employ as the chopping block. The others ducks were in a tizzy about the trick they had seen me play on Freddie. They watched me with suspicion and alarm and from a considerable distance as I proceeded into the house to recover a large knife I intended to use to pop off Freddie's head. As I exited the house, the other ducks squawked in terror at the sight of the implement of death. But they do that at the sight of anything unusual. They are highly excitable creatures.

I placed the knife on the water barrel, fished Freddie out of the cage, tucked him under my left arm, brought him near the block, and again lifted the knife. Freddie responded by stretching his beautiful white neck out on the block as if he understood how the game of chopping-the-duck’s-head-off was to be played. His behavior caused me to pause in his execution and as I did so I was distracted by the sound of muttering coming from behind me. I turned to find three or four ducks stretching their necks from around the corner of the house where they observed my horrifying behavior. I imagined thought bubbles above their heads that read:

”What’s he doing with Freddie?!!”…”What’s he doing with that knife in his hand?!!”…”Oh, grief! No!!”

I returned my attention to Freddie, and as before he helpfully stretched his neck out on the block. I raised the terrible knife over my head. As I did so he looked up at me with one little gray eye that seemed to say, “How’m I doing guy? Am I doing this right?” His trusting little eye blinked rapidly and my knife wielding arm fell limp. 

I lowered Freddie from his too Heavenly perch to the Earth where he hurried off to compare notes with his amigos. There would be no sending of ducks to heaven that day nor would there be any future harvest day, as I love my creatures too much and as there is an abundance of homes in need of my overabundance of ducks.

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