Earlier, a flash of black feathers caught my eye as I stood at the sink finishing up dishes. Alert to anything that happens in our yard, I get to witness Bonnie’s futile attack on the closed coop door. What the d–??? Oh, I get it: Her eggs are inside and she thinks she needs to sit on them. Which tells me two things–that’s where she’s been hiding them and, boy, I need to collect those eggs before it gets any hotter.
She’s not going to be happy.
Slipping on battered clogs, I race to the lawn, lower the coop door and, yup, she runs/flies up the ramp and circles an area where they must be stashed. The feisty Cayuga pokes at the pine shavings then gives me the hairy (downy?) eyeball. I tactfully retreat to the house.
Of course, I’m just biding my time.
Please understand that, as far as I know, there’s no way that ducklings will hatch from those ultra-pampered eggs. None of our four remaining ducks are drakes and–I’m not ruling this out but I have no evidence to the contrary–unless the girls have a secret mallard admirer*, all those eggs are unfertilized.
And Bonnie would make such a good mama!
Not all ducks are good brooder material. It’s a question of temperament; breeds and even individuals within breeds can be quite different. In fact, each of our girls boasts a distinct personality: Gladys is awkward and sweet; Puff, gentle and smart; Fannie, strong and capable; and Bonnie is, well, quite the handful. She’s vocal, fast, a good flyer, a high jumper and super bright–she’s the duck you’d want in your corner if (heaven forefend!) you have to face a raptor or raccoon.
In other words, the perfect mom.
Nonetheless, there’s no chance of ducklings in her immediate future and if I don’t retrieve those eggs soon either climate change or the squirrels** will make omelets out there. When she finally exits, I wait a few minutes then return with a wire basket to scoop out a baker’s dozen.
Now back to the truly heart-breaking part. I can barely type this remembering how I felt so bad about what I did, I even made myself watch the consequences. (I know, I know, they’re just packets of cholesterol but still!)*** Sure enough, after getting a little brekkie, Bonnie flits inside and stops short. She bills at the bedding and pokes a bit in the now empty nest. In her heart I know she’s already figured it out but makes a few feeble stabs anyway.
I have to stop looking before she turns around.
As I flee to the garage, I think I feel her watching me. I start calculating how I might order a few hatchlings and give them to her to raise. Then I think about how impossibly crazy this is and how my husband will freak out if I bring home any more ducks and as I go back to the kitchen window, I see Bonnie finally leave the coop.
Later in the day while doing yard work, I feel someone’s gaze and look up to see Bonnie on a new nest snuggled between a few straw bales. It’s not very protected, unless you count the duck and I do count Bonnie. She’s openly glaring at me. Before I wither under her scrutiny, I see she’s already deposited a new egg. Ah! I make no moves but, of course, I know what I’ll eventually have to do.
She keeps a close eye as long as I’m outside.
I think she’s on to me.
*Would explain the box of chocolates, however.
***Vegans don’t see it this way and that day I got it.
Copyright 2014, Lori Fontanes