Remember when I boasted last year we were getting ducks to help on the newbie homestead? How they would follow me around with gentle clucks as I tended weeds and cultivated crops*? How they would provide copious (I’ll say!) fertilizer, dig up bugs and aerate the lawn (so that’s what those nifty mudholes are for…).
Ahhhh, fuggedaboudit. What I meant to say about “waterfowl and gardening” is this:
At first, it amuses. No matter how far from whatever dirt you’re turning, a duck will see/hear/smell the cry of the worm and power-waddle to stick her bill into the action. Forget that you’re holding a heavy-duty broadfork that would hurt mightily if encountered by a silly feathered head or delicate webbed foot. The instinctive drive to unearth annelids overwhelms whatever common sense you previously thought that waterfowl possessed. They go from cute to exasperating faster than you can say “just what we need, more vet bills!”.
After running out of funny, I considered a number of duck control options that would allow me to work without hurting the birds. Could I pen them up while digging? Yeah, but chasing them down is more trouble than it’s worth. Could I put up temp fencing? Same ish. Could I distract them? (They could play Angry Birds on the iPad!) How about night gardening? I could rig some lights but what about the neighbors….hey, wait a minute! Who’s in charge here, me or the ducks???***
In the end, my (unsatisfying) solution consisted of racing between garden beds with various hefty tools, trailing five quacking birds and risking my own neck (and other parts) in the process.
Which is what I call a real pain in the duck.
*Or is that cultivated weeds and killed crops? Only the dandelion knows for sure!
**Antique term suggesting you have had it up to here and can’t take it anymore.
Copyright 2013, Lori Fontanes