“They’re big,” my husband, Andrew, reported as he emerged from the garage. “Guess they stop being cute now.”
They may or may not be running out of cute but one thing they’re definitely not running out of is poop. That euphemism you hear from duck folks (“ducklings are messy”) translates to this: They poop a lot. Yes, they slop water everywhere and it certainly seems that more of it ends up on the floor than in their mouths but the proof is in the bedding. Poop, poop and more poop. At first, I saw my garage as Darwin’s Beagle now I see it’s really the Augean stables (and I’m no Hercules.) Fastidious me, I’m sprinkling on fresh pine shavings whenever I can and mucking out the wet stuff at least once a day. As my daughter, Pamela, says, “Nature is hard work!”
Look, I know they’re birds and birds poop but I’m more used to dealing with wild birds and the rain (and a good hose) take care of that. This is a whole new level of avian output. Did I mention we got these ducks for fertilizer? Not going to have any shortages, I’m guessing.
There was only one thing left to do. Move! (Them, not us.) And not very far, just out of the starter pen and into the kiddie pool.
A couple of months ago I had gone to a local toy store where I remember seeing a nice big plastic number (made in the USA!) last summer. They looked at me like I was crazy. (A pool, in March? What are you, one of these global warming types?) I explained that we were getting ducklings (oh, ducklings, well, then…) and did my usual spiel about connecting with nature, having fresh eggs, blahbedeblahblahblah. Me and the clerk managed to smoosh it into the car, I drove home and put it out of my head. Until now. Look, we had at least a month to go yet in this garage and no way they were going to last any longer in this starter space. Plus, I needed something that would keep the water from draining out from under the bedding, something meant to get wet…hey, what about a pool?!
And speaking of wet things. Did you know ducks needs lots of water? Yes, I knew going in they needed continuous access to water for drinking but also to keep their bills, eyes and nostrils clean, not to mention, the rest of themselves but the speed at which ducks consume and/or otherwise dispose of H20 is staggering. We kept adding waterers but the problem became, the more we added the more they spilled and the more wet bedding this created. Even adding a grille under the waterer didn’t help so I added a bowl under the grille but constantly worried that they would knock the waterer over (which they did) and expose the hole in the grille (which happened) and fall into the bowl (which also happened) but they were able to survive said situation. (They are waterfowl.) I constantly monitor and tinker with the set-up, my ingenuity (barely) keeping one day ahead of their growth, their needs and their superior birdish cunning.
Met a guy the other day for the first time and told him what we’ve been up to with the duck project. Apparently, he had some experience with the birds himself because first thing he says, quite seriously:
“Ducks need a lot of water.”
Yes, I know.
Copyright 2012, Lori Fontanes