El Duckacabra

As one of my neighbors stated, Meredith and I have had a “harsh introduction to duck owning.”

As commonplace as the internet has become, it was still a surprise to many friends and coworkers that one could order ducks online and have them mailed to your home. We purchased ten back in August (nine hens and one drake who I named Darkwing), although a quick inspection of the box showed that only nine made it into our hands. I can only assume that, overnight shipping not being a duck’s preferred method of travel, stress and cool temperatures got the best of her.

They stayed inside until they were big enough to withstand the cooling temperatures in an outside pen, and then we evicted them. Ducks are messy and produce nothing that smells good; they had overstayed their welcome inside. In their new home for less than a day, one of them found a hole in the pen big enough to fit through, and the brown duck, tail wagging, waddled off into the brown woods. I would love to say “never to be seen again” as that would imply that some predator-in-need finished the duck off quickly, brought her home, cooked her up, and served her to five hungry baby predators. And I think we can all get behind that as a good thing. Alas, we found her two days later, dead outside of the pen, my guess having mostly frozen to death. And we went from nine to eight.

We patched up the hole and they stayed there for another month while we got their nice yard and new pen ready. Over that month we lost two more, both times lifting the lid to feed or water them and seeing a brown mass in the corner of the pen, trampled by spooked ducks, mud caked in the feathers. They had plenty of food and water, but I think not enough space. Or maybe not enough heat. Or maybe just unhealthy conditions, as they muddied up the pen quickly. And we went from eight to six.

As soon as we could, we moved them to their finished yard: 100 feet of fencing around a grassy area, a pool to swim in, covered food and water, shade, and a fresh new pen to be closed in at night. They loved it. They grew in size and strength, swam in the pool, chased each other around the yard, and would soon be giving us eggs. Six ducks would give us an average of 4 to 5 eggs a day, and that was more than plenty. If we’d still had ten we’d be eating quiche every day. And I don’t really like quiche.

A couple days ago we went to close them up for the night, and three were gone. No tracks in the yard, no feathers or bodies in the immediate area. Just gone. And we went from six to three.

The next day we went to close them up for the night, and two were gone. No tracks in the yard, no feathers or bodies in the immediate area. Just gone. And we went from three to one.

I think we could turn this into a counting song for children.

There are a few theories. A fox could get in and take one without leaving much of a trace, but probably wouldn’t come back for seconds or thirds. There are hawks in the area, but a duck is fairly sizeable prey. A more likely theory is that over the course of a couple days, the one duck swallowed the rest whole, which makes me apprehensive of acquiring new ducks in the spring. The last proposed theory is that of the fabled El Duckacabra.

Which would actually mean “duck goat,” not “duck sucker.” But Chupaduck isn’t as scary. Regardless, I doubt there’s a man among us who wouldn’t be terrified in the face of the Duck-goat.

Merry Christmas


Posted by Jack on Wed, 23 Dec 2009
tags: non-boardgame .