Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Outwebbed by the Indy Pond Runners

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Outwebbed by the Indy Pond Runners

Article excerpt

I suppose I am to blame for my sons' love of ducks. Carlos was 5 the day we went to the hatchery to pick up an order of chicks. While both my boys peered at the aisles of incubators, an older man stomped up. The air vibrated with cheeping, and he shouted over the cacophony.

"Would your boys want some ducks?"

I was concentrating on writing my check and merely nodded my head. It wasn't until everyone was settled into the car that I realized what I had done.

Ducks.

In contrast to chicks who gobble their food and snuggle in a fluffy heap, ducklings dabble in their water, drenching themselves and everything nearby. And unless ducklings have a mother who rubs her own oil into the ducklings' down, they chill and need human assistance.

Carlos eagerly became a surrogate parent, and when the ducklings could survive being wet, he and his webbed-footed friends splashed together in a huge washtub. This bonding flamed his enthusiasm for fowl, and when he could manage the print, he read "Raising Poultry Successfully."

From that time on he'd quote passages from the text to me while I washed dishes. His favorite recitation was the section listing 10 important reasons why all homesteads needed ducks. Poultry catalogs filtered into our home, and Carlos spent his evenings memorizing breeds and duck trivia.

His own flock of ducks flourished and included Peking, Rouen, and the diminutive English Call ducks, but the breed our farm lacked were Indian Runners. After a friend showed us the movie "Babe," we all hankered to watch those long-necked ducks pace among the poultry.

One day, my husband came home from the feed mill with a scrap of paper upon which he had scribbled a phone number for someone selling runner ducks. He called, and later that evening we drove down the farm's lane, coming face to face with a pen of 3O quacking ducks.

"You can have the lot for $25," the woman offered.

A few pairs floating on our pond would be great, but we had no need for 30 ducks! So my sons captured six, shut them in a large dog crate, and we sped home. …

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