Tag Archives: Duck

Pondering the Possibility of Ducklings–Beth Trissel


Who Doesn’t Love Ducklings?

I’m excited about all the migrating ducks on our farm pond this spring. And, once again, am debating the possibility and advisability of mail ordering some garden friendly ducklings and raising them to be my garden pals. Some varieties eat grubs and other pesky insects while not destroying the plants. But ducks need a pool of some sort as they love water, so I must provide that while figuring out a way to keep them from heading down to the ‘big water’–our pond. I also envision the need for a pen for their protection, and am pondering where it might be located, who would build it, plus how to care for them in the winter….Meanwhile, here’s an excerpt from my nonfiction book about gardening and country life, Shenandoah Watercolors, available at Amazon in kindle and print with lovely images of the valley and mountains. (*A 2012 EPIC eBook Finalist)
~When the world was new and I was young, I ordered a dozen Rouen ducklings (resemble large mallards) from a game farm and began my love affair with ducks, blessed by its moments of joy and cursed with inevitable tragedy.  The box of downy babies was delivered directly to my door much earlier in the day than our mail normally comes as the mailman had wearied of their incessant peeping.  I took the new arrivals from the grateful carrier and transferred them to a corner of the family room under a warm light bulb.  My two oldest children, in grade school then, were delighted with their new playmates, but soon joined me in the discovery that these tiny creatures were incredibly messy.
The ducklings reveled in their food, spewing a mixture of feed and water on themselves, the box, and the walls.  This led to their speedy removal to an unoccupied rabbit hutch in an outbuilding.  Here they grew in sheltered bliss until we deemed them ready for life on the pond, unaware that our charges needed parental guidance. The unchaperoned youngsters soon slipped under the fence and lost themselves in the neighbor’s grassy meadow.  We tracked their frantic quacks and carried them home, only to have them forget and stray again and again.
(*Our pond, calm on this day but often filled with ducks and geese)
Sadly, unwary ducklings do not know to be on guard against snapping turtles, something their mama would have taught them.  By summer’s end, just two grown ducks remained and were fondly named Daphne and Darlene. They were inseparable and divided their day between the cows and geese in the barnyard and forays to the pond.
The next spring Daphne and Darlene built a mutual nest inside a clump of gold-button tansy at the edge of the garden and patiently sat on the eggs that would never hatch.  It was time to find them a suitable spouse.  One fall evening “Don” arrived in my hubby’s pickup truck.
(*Little creek that meanders through our meadow and under the fence to the neighbors)
The girls took an instant liking to the handsome drake, and he to them, though he showed a slight preference for Darlene.  As spring neared again, we noticed a wild mallard drake observing our little band.  He would dash forward for a bite of grain at feeding time, only to be driven away by Don.  We pitied Dwayne, as he soon became known, and tossed a handful far to the side for him.  Besides the free lunch, it seemed that Dwayne was attracted to our Daphne, much to Don’s strong disapproval.
The small male was undeterred and eventually won acceptance, amusing us by his attempts to mate with Daphne, twice his size.  Persistence won out though.  That year the girls had separate nests, Darlene at the base of a bittersweet vine, while Daphne went back to the tansy.  Don and Dwayne bonded, swapping stories as they awaited imminent fatherhood.
The ducklings hatched in late spring and grew quickly.  All survived with excellent care from their mothers.  By fall we could see Dwayne’s influence on the flock.  His offspring were considerably smaller. It was a golden, happy time. Late afternoons we quacked loudly, calling our ducks for feeding.  Heads popped up from the seeding grass and they answered back then waddled single file behind Don, their noble leader.  If we were late with dinner, they gathered to complain about the lack of service and were not averse to heading up to the house to fetch us if necessary.
Autumn in all its splendor passed into a winter that was our most severe in years.  We tromped faithfully through the deep snow every day to scatter feed on the frozen pond.  Then one morning after fresh snowfall we could not find a single duck.  Our anxious calls came back to us empty on the wind…searching revealed spatters of blood and dog tracks in the snow, the silent witness to their grim fate.   Still, we hoped that some birds had escaped the attack and combed the neighborhood, finally locating a pair of Dwayne’s offspring.  Only the smaller ducks could fly well.  We had unwittingly fed the others up to be “sitting ducks,” an expression I understand too well now.  A week later Dwayne returned on his own, but it was a bleak time.  How empty the pond seemed without the gang.
That May, Betty, our lone remaining female, hatched a fuzzy brood.  Familiar quacks again filled the air and gladdened our spirits.  It just isn’t spring without ducklings.  ~
All of this took place eons ago, but we still have ducks on our pond and an ample flock fussy barnyard geese who make daily visits down to the water. The small town of Dayton, Virginia, not far from us, has a lovely body of water called Silver Lake (the size of a large pond) and a stream that attracts so many ducks the town has installed a duck crossing sign.
*Pics of our farm and ducks, also my mom and dad’s ducks…it’s a family thing this love of ducks. *Images by my mom, Pat Churchman.  *The one of the creek by daughter Elise. It’s awash with moisture now, but was only a trickle that day.
*This story about ducklings is the one that really got me started in writing. It was ‘almost’ published in Southern Living Magazine and that editor gave me much encouragement about my writing, then she referred me to an editor at Progressive Farmer who accepted it and several more nonfiction pieces about rural life, but their free-lance column got axed before publication.
(Tame duck swimming in ‘duck weed’ in my parent’s water garden)

Don’t Entrust Your Ducks To Just Anyone—Beth Trissel


Years ago, I raised ducks for our farm pond–a story in itself–and then decided to take on several ducklings offered to me by a kindergarten teacher who hatched them in the classroom incubator and needed a home for the little quackers. I housed them safely in an unused dog kennel and decided to raise them for friends who have a smaller pond on their farm. One was a white Peking duck and the other two were white with markings, probably some mixed up kind of ducks.

Oh, the care and effort I put into those ducklings and the pride to see them thrive and grow into bright-eyed, trusting souls who greeted me eagerly. Ducks have lots to say and these were especially friendly. And handsome. But after generously gifting my feathered friends to human friends, I later learned they hadn’t received the care I assumed they would, nor were they checked on regularly.  No food was forthcoming, or water provided when the pond dwindled from drought. That hadn’t occurred to anyone. In fact, I was casually informed the ducks were nowhere to be found. Their disappearance wasn’t even noted at any particular time. Not that anyone was concerned, of course. Except me. Why had I let them go to such a negligent home?

Earlier this summer, my 2011 art major graduate daughter Elise was entrusted with a tiny aloe vera plant that was on its last leg, or leaf, by a college friend of hers. Between the two of us, this pathetic specimen has made an amazing comeback, and we both revel in its progress. Now, my conscientious daughter is making noises about giving it back. ‘What?’ I say. ‘To the negligent plant person?’ It’s gonna be the duck thing all over again.

To those of you without much fondness for ducks or plants, this lesson can be cross-applied to anything you’ve put time and effort into nurturing.  Don’t entrust what you care about to just anybody. This also includes your kids.

For Duck Lovers


An excerpt from my nonfiction book about gardening and country life, Shenandoah Watercolors, available at Amazon in kindle and print with lovely images of the valley and mountains. (*A 2012 EPIC eBook Finalist)

~When the world was new and I was young, I ordered a dozen Rouen ducklings (resemble large mallards) from a game farm and began my love affair with ducks, blessed by its moments of joy and cursed with inevitable tragedy.  The box of downy babies was delivered directly to my door much earlier in the day than our mail normally comes as the mailman had wearied of their incessant peeping.  I took the new arrivals from the grateful carrier and transferred them to a corner of the family room under a warm light bulb.  My two oldest children, in grade school then, were delighted with their new playmates, but soon joined me in the discovery that these tiny creatures were incredibly messy.

The ducklings reveled in their food, spewing a mixture of feed and water on themselves, the box, and the walls.  This led to their speedy removal to an unoccupied rabbit hutch in an outbuilding.  Here they grew in sheltered bliss until we deemed them ready for life on the pond, unaware that our charges needed parental guidance.  The unchaperoned youngsters soon slipped under the fence and lost themselves in the neighbor’s grassy meadow.  We tracked their frantic quacks and carried them home, only to have them forget and stray again and again.

Sadly, unwary ducklings do not know to be on guard against snapping turtles, something their mama would have taught them.  By summer’s end, just two grown ducks remained and were fondly named Daphne and Darlene.  They were inseparable and divided their day between the cows and geese in the barnyard and forays to the pond.

(*Our pond, calm on this day but often filled with ducks and geese)

The next spring Daphne and Darlene built a mutual nest inside a clump of gold-button tansy at the edge of the garden and patiently sat on the eggs that would never hatch.  It was time to find them a suitable spouse.  One fall evening “Don” arrived in my hubby’s pickup truck.

(*Little creek that meanders through our meadow and under the fence to the neighbors)

The girls took an instant liking to the handsome drake, and he to them, though he showed a slight preference for Darlene.  As spring neared again, we noticed a wild mallard drake observing our little band.  He would dash forward for a bite of grain at feeding time, only to be driven away by Don.  We pitied Dwayne, as he soon became known, and tossed a handful far to the side for him.  Besides the free lunch, it seemed that Dwayne was attracted to our Daphne, much to Don’s strong disapproval.

The small male was undeterred and eventually won acceptance, amusing us by his attempts to mate with Daphne, twice his size.  Persistence won out though.  That year the girls had separate nests, Darlene at the base of a bittersweet vine, while Daphne went back to the tansy.  Don and Dwayne bonded, swapping stories as they awaited imminent fatherhood.

The ducklings hatched in late spring and grew quickly.  All survived with excellent care from their mothers.  By fall we could see Dwayne’s influence on the flock.  His offspring were considerably smaller. It was a golden, happy time. Late afternoons we quacked loudly, calling our ducks for feeding.  Heads popped up from the seeding grass and they answered back then waddled single file behind Don, their noble leader.  If we were late with dinner, they gathered to complain about the lack of service and were not averse to heading up to the house to fetch us if necessary.

Autumn in all its splendor passed into a winter that was our most severe in years.  We tromped faithfully through the deep snow every day to scatter feed on the frozen pond.  Then one morning after fresh snowfall we could not find a single duck.  Our anxious calls came back to us empty on the wind…searching revealed spatters of blood and dog tracks in the snow, the silent witness to their grim fate.   Still, we hoped that some birds had escaped the attack and combed the neighborhood, finally locating a pair of Dwayne’s offspring.  Only the smaller ducks could fly well.  We had unwittingly fed the others up to be “sitting ducks,” an expression I understand too well now.  A week later Dwayne returned on his own, but it was a bleak time.  How empty the pond seemed without the gang.

That May, Betty, our lone remaining female, hatched a fuzzy brood.  Familiar quacks again filled the air and gladdened our spirits.  It just isn’t spring without ducklings.  ~

All of this took place eons ago, but we still have ducks on our pond and an ample flock fussy barnyard geese who make daily visits down to the water.  The small town of Dayton, Virginia, not far from us, has a lovely body of water called Silver Lake (the size of a large pond) and a stream that attracts so many ducks the town has installed a duck crossing sign.

*Pics of our farm and ducks, also my mom and dad’s ducks…it’s a family thing this love of ducks. *Images by my mom, Pat Churchman.  *The one of the creek by daughter Elise.

*This story about ducklings is the one that really got me started in writing. It was ‘almost’ published in Southern Living Magazine and that editor gave me much encouragement about my writing, then she referred me to an editor at Progressive Farmer who accepted it and several more nonfiction pieces about rural life, but their free-lance column got axed before publication.

(Tame duck swimming in ‘duck weed’ in my parent’s water garden)

Regency Duck Names with Romance Author Linda Banche


Welcome Linda, so happy to have you on my blog.  Your new release sounds just ducky–couldn’t resist.  Seriously, though, I’m a duck fan and enjoy a good Regency so a win, win.  The cover is gorgeous, the blurb and excerpt grabbed my attention.  Now, back to Linda.

Thanks Beth.  In my new Regency comedy romance, An Inheritance for the Birds, the “birds” in the title are mallard ducks.

Why ducks? Well, I like ducks. They’re very pretty birds and they’re large enough to see easily. I selected mallards because they’re the most widespread ducks in the northern hemisphere and would be common in Regency England. Also, I feel sorry for them. We take mallards for granted because they’re all over, but they’re among the best looking of the ducks. And I like their “quack”.

An Inheritance for the Birds is a variation on the theme of the elderly lady willing her possessions to her cats. Duck nut that I am, I substituted ducks. In my twist on the story, the hero and heroine must compete to win an inheritance. Their task: make the deceased lady’s pet ducks happy.

There are fourteen ducks in the story.

The drakes are: Thaddeus, Theodore, Ulrick, Busick,  Bamber, Obadiah, Ethelred and Alwyne

The hens are: Felizarda, Albina, Esmeralda, Horatia, Urania and Dulcibella

Note that there are eight drakes and six hens. Among the brightly colored ducks in the wild, drakes are more plentiful than hens. Just think, all those avian hotties competing for the erstwhile hens’ attention. A female heaven.

I took most of the names from Regency historical romance author Jo Beverley‘s list of names common in the Georgian and Regency eras (http://www.jobev.com/regname.html). The names may have been common then, but they sound a little odd to our ears.

To introduce the ducks a little more, Ulrick and Urania are mates, Thaddeus and Theodore are brothers, and the heroine beans Felizarda with a piece of bread (accidentally, of course) when she feeds them.

The duck stars are Obadiah, who likes the hero, and Esmeralda, who doesn’t. The others add their quacking chorus to the comedy. I love my ducks. What do you think of the names I selected?

I love the names and the concept for this story.  Very fun.

An Inheritance for the Birds, available from The Wild Rose Press.

BLURB:

Make the ducks happy and win an estate!

Mr. Christopher “Kit” Winnington can’t believe the letter from his late great-aunt’s solicitor. In order to inherit her estate, he must win a contest against her companion, Miss Angela Stratton. Whoever makes his great-aunt’s pet ducks happy wins.

A contest: What a cork-brained idea. This Miss Stratton is probably a sly spinster who camouflaged her grasping nature from his good-natured relative. There is no way he will let the estate go to a usurper.

Angela never expected her former employer to name her in her will. Most likely, this Mr. Winnington is a trumped-up jackanapes who expects her to give up without a fight. Well, she is made of sterner stuff.

The ducks quack in avian bliss while Kit and Angela dance a duet of desire as they do their utmost to make the ducks–and themselves–happy.

EXCERPT:

Yawning, he shut the door behind him. Enough ducks and prickly ladies for one day. After dropping his satchel by the bed, he dragged off his clothes and draped them over the chair back. He dug a nightshirt from the valise and donned the garment before he blew out both candles.

Bates had already drawn back the bedclothes. The counterpane was soft under Kit’s palm, and covered a featherbed. He grinned. By any chance, had they used the down from the pet ducks to stuff the mattress and pillows?

After tying the bed curtains back, he settled into the soft cocoon and laced his fingers behind his head. Tomorrow, he would have it out with Miss Stratton about the steward’s residence, but that was tomorrow. He fluffed up his pillow and turned onto his side…

“QUACK!”

A bundle of flapping, squawking feathers exploded from the depths of the covers and attacked him. Throwing his arms over his head for protection, Kit fell out of bed. He scrambled to his feet and bolted for the door, the thrashing, quacking explosion battering him. A serrated knife edge scraped over his upper arm. “Ow!” Batting at the avian attacker with one hand, he groped for the latch with the other.

The door swung open. Miss Stratton, her candle flame flickering, dashed into the chamber. “Esmeralda, you stop that right now!”

The feathered windstorm quacked once more and, in a graceful arc, fluttered to the floor.

Kit lowered his arms and gave a mental groan. A duck. He should have known.~

Thank you all,

Linda Banche
Welcome to My World of Historical Hilarity!
http://www.lindabanche.com

http://lindabanche.blogspot.com

Excerpt from My Nonfiction Book, Shenandoah Watercolors


“There are moments when all anxiety and stated toil are becalmed in the infinite leisure and repose of nature.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

This is one of those sweet June mornings when the world seems fresh and new, too soft for words, but I’ll try. I’m looking out the two windows in my bedroom as I write into the most beautiful gold light, the sort of light photographers love. Roses glow like jewels, their red, yellow, pink blossoms heavy with rain from the night. White daises sparkle, lacy pinks, red clover, lavender candy tuft, angel wing poppies, nodding columbine bells, spires of blue salvia, and crimson lupines…all the plants with a rich promise of more to come.

Hues of green spread through my yard and garden, out over the meadow, and up into the hills beyond the fields. The sky is washed in pale blue at the edges, deeper blue as it arches upward. And the air is alive with birdsong. Cows impatiently bawl for more hay, greedily snatching at the bales tossed down to them from the mow. Plump gray and white barnyard geese fuss, as is their way––I never quite catch the argument––while the goslings make this funny whistling sound.

“Waddle-butts,” I call the infants, “busy little waddle-butts,” plopping down to rest when they tire and then darting off again to catch up with the group.

If a gosling falls too far behind, its shrill peeping can be heard over hill and vale, by all, including the baddies out there that eat silly babies. Given the absentmindedness of mama and papa geese and auntie and uncles, it’s amazing that as many goslings survive as they do. Somehow, they manage, usually.

Wood duck mamas loudly cry ‘whoo-eek’ from the pond to round up the ducklings darting over its calm surface like little bumble bees. Mallard babies quietly follow their mothers in a dutiful row or all huddled together. Not so the wood ducklings. They are far more independent. But fast. Bad old snapping turtles are hard pressed to catch them. Snappers are the pond’s version of sharks, and not to be confused with the benign box turtles, but I shouldn’t end on that visual image.

Way up beyond the hills and the distant fields, the Allegheny Mountains rise above all. Why weren’t they called the Blue Ridge? They are equally blue, and can be every bit as hazy as the Smokies. What’s in a name? Much? Little? Some are steeped in meaning, others not. I don’t even know what Allegheny means, only that the mountains are glorious. They seem to roll on and on forever like the swells of a sea. I tell my daughter, Elise, that as long as the mountains stand and there are green meadows, we are well.~

*Pics by my mom and daughter Elise

SHENANDOAH WATERCOLORS at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

For Duck Lovers


The ducks are assembling on the river at my parent’s house and their old friend is back, and possibly his original mom.  Those of you who remember my post last summer about The Duck Who Thinks He’s A Chicken will appreciate these pics she took.   His hen mother isn’t in them, but I don’t think she’ll mind.

“If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck, it must be a duck.” ~Proverb

“If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have to at least consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands.” ~Douglas Adams, British comic/ writer

 

Spring Is When the Meadowlark Sings~


Flashes of lightning and the rumble of an approaching thunderstorm woke me early this morning.  Typical crazy March weather here in the Shenandoah Valley.  Yesterday a cold snap followed on the heels of several wonderfully balmy days.  The weatherman predicts more storms this afternoon, but we’re glad for the rain after last summer’s drought and a fairly dry winter.  Cold, but dry.  Now we’re catching up on some much-needed moisture.

Ducks and geese love all the puddles that come with the rain, and our pond is finally full again after dwindling to a sad state last summer. Happy quacks resound against the lovely trill of the meadowlark, my favorite songbird.  Also, one of the first signs of spring.  My goal is to ever actually see one of these elusive birds again.  Supposedly, this shouldn’t such a challenge.  Once or twice, I’ve glimpsed a yellow flash  and spotted the bird perched on a fence post before it flew.  Mostly, though, they hide in the grass and skim away to another spot before I get a good look, calling all the while from various positions in the meadow.

Last spring daughter Elise and I were determined to track down the evasive songster and tenaciously followed its calls, even climbed over the fence into the neighbor’s pasture and picked our way along the little creek, but never caught up with that bird, or birds.  There may have been more than one.  So unless I catch another rare glimpse, I must content myself with their beautiful trills.  Birds like this need tall grasses and untidy hedge rows for nesting.  Bear that in mind in your own yard and garden.  Keeping everything trim and cultivated robs our feathered friends of habitat.  It’s also a good excuse for a less than perfectly kept landscape.     A little wilderness here and there is a good thing.

We have the Eastern Meadowlark.  For more on that variety click here.

For more on the Western Meadowlark~

*Images of our farm taken by daughter Elise. Royalty free Image of meadowlark–until we can finally photograph one.