July 15, 2011

Ducklings

I was about to entitle this post "the Great Duckling Debacle!"  Then I realized just how often I use the word debacle (noun  1. sudden break up or dispersion  2. complete downfall or failure ) in a post title.  For instance, there was the Great Hairbrush Debacle and 8 years of Marriage a while back and more recently the Great Ant Debacle of 2011.  I don't know if that means that our lives are more debacle prone than most or simply that I have an affinity for the word debacle.  Maybe a little of both. And it's never just a debacle.  Nope...it's always a Great Debacle!  Anyhoo, this was certainly a debacle if ever there was one. 

We decided to swing into Old Navy on the way to Ruhi to see if we could find Hannah Jane some knee socks.  On the way out of the parking lot, I see the tiniest baby duck running wild in between the wheels of moving cars.  They didn't seem to notice the little guy, so I pulled over and jumped out to grab him.  An elderly couple saw me get out and decided that whatever I was up to, they were going to get out and help.  Soon they saw that they had almost hit a baby duck. 

This couple was hilarious!  The woman was the one doing most of the chasing of the baby duck and her husband was yelling at her, "Go faster!  You'll never get him if you don't move fast!"  Funny thing to hear from a man wearing a custom hat with the word "Geezer" embroidered on the front!  He wasn't exactly a spring chicken, if you know what I'm saying.

Finally we got the duckling and they asked if I could care for it.  I agreed.  I figured the kids would love it.  But soon people are flagging me over to a spot between Sports Authority and TJ Maxx where I see the momma duck and a ton of babies!  Hooray!  We can reunite them!  A woman told me that a man had just pulled all of the babies from a storm drain while the momma duck pecked at him and flapped all around.  He pulled them out, flopped them into the parking lot, and left.  Now the momma duck was leading them through traffic and there was no water any place around.  Soon yet another family decided we could catch them all and relocated them to the park.  Good idea!  Sports Authority gave us boxes and the Burger King manager brought out a bunch of buns to lure them towards us.  We caught them all!  Whoo-Hoo!

But then the momma duck escaped.  We caught her again.  She escaped a again.  She was not about to be caught again.  She was irate!  Scary!  Hissing in that way that normally only super scary park geese hiss.  So the small crowd that had gathered decided that the Burger King drive through, which is where we were by the time all of this was over, was no place to leave the baby ducks even if momma duck was around.  They decided to take the babies to some park and release them in the water.  I thought this would spell certain death for the little guys.  They were, after all, super small and momma dependent.  And I've seen what other momma ducks do to ducklings that aren't theirs.  It ain't pretty. 

They said, "Well, you were going to take the one.  Can you take them all?"  I agreed, but I wanted that momma duck.  After enough chasing, she finally left the scene altogether and was no where to be found.  I was devastated.  Hannah Jane was crying about taking them from their mother, but the rest of the group was not going to see them left in that parking lot alone.  Well, except for the BK manager, who was content to leave them there in a pile of buns until momma duck came back.  The rest agreed they were under no circumstances leaving the ducklings in the parking lot.  Momma or no momma, they were taking them to the river.  So I took the ducklings.  I wasn't sure it was the right thing to do, but I was between a rock and a hard place.  I thought we could at a minimum give them a better chance than the river with no momma.


We brought them home and set them up a spot in the bathtub like my mom used to do when her mail order ducklings arrived.  They seemed to be dong well and the kids sure liked having them.

The next day our friend called and said he was coming over to see the ducks, so I ran down to sweep up the floor before his arrival.  What I found when I got down there was one dead duck and another that didn't look like it was doing so well.  Devastation.  I didn't want to risk losing another one and Hannah Jane was sure she had killed the duck by putting its food out of reach.  I didn't want any of us carrying the weight of being duck killers.  

By the time Jim got here to see the ducks, sweet Hannah Jane was in the yard holding the sickest looking duckling, tears streaming down her cheeks, a box of other ducks before her, and the boys were whizzing around on bikes and scooters yelling to him, "One duck died so we're going to the zoo!"

Holding the sick one on the way to the zoo.  What a sweet girl to try to smile through those tears.

Our quaint little zoo with it's $2 admission that you place in a big pipe instead of giving to a human, and that consists of a million varieties of ducks along side a couple of exotic animals seemed like the perfect place.  If they would take them.  We knocked on the office door and explained.  The first girl happily said yes!  She said we did the right thing and that they had other ducks about the same size that these could live with until they were bigger.  Then her boss came in.  He was not pleased at all with me when I said that they did have a mom at one point.  I explained why we took them.  He didn't look any happier with me.  But then he admitted that they had adopted rescue ducklings from that area before and they might know precisely where to find the momma.  Apparently one duck has a habit of leading ducklings through Old Navy's area of the concrete jungle.  That made me feel better.  A little.  

I had to sign donation papers- which I thought was hilarious considering that only 10 hours earlier they had been in a storm drain and a parking lot and were in no way mine to donate in such a formal sense- saying that I agreed to release these animals to the sole custody of the zoo.  

Hunter cried as we left, saying, "They are just so cute that I want to love them forever!"  We talked about allowing something to die in order to behold its cuteness versus acknowledging its value to us by allowing someone more qualified to care for it.  Maybe a bit over his head, but it was worth a shot.  A day later the kids were all able to speak fondly of the ducklings without weeping and we moved on with life.  

So glad that's behind us.  Now I've learned my lesson about getting involved.  Although, I'm sure if I saw a duckling running under a moving SUV again tomorrow, I'd still jump out to save it.  I'd just pray that there was not a large duck family lurking around the corner in the company of a thousand do-gooders with big opinions. :)

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