Country view: Poultry Pets 2
Buffy, Duck owner for a day
I love all my chickens. They are wonderfully charming, entertaining and useful creatures. However, there are always some that just stand out for some reason, or, just really love me. Buffy is my favorite pet these days. A whole flock of chickens can be passing by and if I call out Buffy's name she will run right over to me and jump onto my hand. This never fails to impress and delight farm visitors, especially since she is agreeable to everyone petting her and fussing over her. My mini-mission in life is to encourage people to have a garden and keep a few chickens and experience a little more of a self-sufficient life-style. Buffy has been a great ambassador for me. Buffy is the tiniest of my Old English Bantams, but large in heart and very smart. Of course chickens make wonderful pets as well as work my garden soil, and keep it bug free. And let's not forget the eggs. Oh, and my roosters are just the most gorgeous birds. It baffles me that someone will spend a thousand dollars on a parrot and completely overlook a rooster! Well, I'm just a farm girl, but I think everyone should take another look at the chicken. Livestock or pet, I think everyone needs to have a few around to love and enjoy.
Duck owner for a day
Growing up in the country 'back in the day' we had loads of animals. But we never had ducks and I fancied them. When I went to town I loved to watch them on the pond. I loved their funny waddle rhythm, their blocky bodies, and their deep inquisitive quacks. I had quite a following of friendly ducks. This is because I always bribed them with bread filched from the home pantry. One Fall I decided I needed a pet duck. I knew I could never convince my parents to buy a duck. But I did get my mother to say I could keep a duck if I could catch one.
I was a little kid, just 6, but I was cagey enough to know that I couldn't capture a wild duck on my own. I confess to bullying, bribing, and finally blackmailing my two older cousins into being part of my scheme. You see we all lived together. My parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents and I lived in one huge old Sears & Roebuck kit house built around 1900. So the next time my Uncle JC took my cousins and me to town, we were ready.
I had bread. Jo was assigned the task of 'herding' the duck in my direction. Ronnie was armed with his jacket. The plan was to sneak up behind a duck and throw the coat over it. Soon we had a feral duck tightly contained in Ronnie's Sunday best. I had planned, with the precision of an infantry army general, the assault and capture of my duck. Getting it home and keeping it there had never once crossed my mind. Uncle JC frowned when he saw us with an incontinent duck rolled up in a nasty coat. Especially when I explained that this was a foray sanctioned by his sister-in-law.
As we pulled up to the house my uncle asked, "Where are you going to keep it?" Hmmm...using a bathtub seemed practical. Whoever had built the old house we lived in had put in two bathrooms. One was in constant use by the family. The other was on the far side of the house and was off limits to kids. You may be wondering why it was off limits? It was off limits because it was used by the patrons of my grandmother's home beauty shop. The beauty shop bathroom was, we decided, a perfect duck habitat.
Ronnie and Jo kept a low profile with the duck down by the barn. I snuck into the beauty shop bathroom. I started running water in the tub. When it was full I ran out to signal my cousins.
In the tub the first thing the duck did, of course, was relieve itself again. I knew somebody was going to have to clean up that awful mess. Ronnie's coat was his own problem, now the duck dilemma had gotten personal. With that in mind I snuck off giving the excuse that I was getting more bread to feed my new pet. Soon my cousins figured out that they had been left holding the bag errr...duck. They too made themselves scarce.
One of Ma's clients discovered my duck. She screamed, the duck tried to take flight, and the whole beauty shop came running to see what was wrong. The ladies were glorious, I'm sure, in their wet stinky permanent rods, half teased bee hived heads, and righteous indignation. I can't say for sure because by that time I was down in the pasture hiding.
In the end I did have to scrub the tub along with my partners in crime, Jo and Ronnie. The duck was taken back to the pond that same afternoon in the trunk of by my uncle's car. But I was a duck owner, *sigh*, if only for one day.
Patty DeLoach, Douglasville, GA
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