Duck Depot developments

Don Sweetenham


Since the last time I wrote about our little duck sanctuary, there have been several notable happenings. The duck population was temporarily increased by just over fifty new “babies” being hatched, which, in the last few weeks, have been reduced so that we now have a total approaching three dozen. Mother Nature has a way of avoiding overcrowding and of course, She knows best and I try not to interfere with her decisions. We still have another dozen or so babies in the eggs of a separate nest. The momma duck is faithfully looking after her brood so we should have another brief increase to the population in the near future.

I have a small pond in my back yard which through neglect and my physical limitations has become not much more than a sixty-five gallon pot of dirty water. I’m not proud of it but the ducks think it’s just fine. The half dozen big, mostly black, males who really govern the place, hold their early morning meetings on the rim of the pond and many of the new ducklings thought it would be a good place to try out their natural bouyancy in that nasty water. They had no trouble getting in but they found it was not so easy to get back out. So I made them a small wooden ramp which they quickly learned how to use. I’ve put several shallow water pans around the yard and a couple of deeper drinking bowls and I keep them full of clean water, but they still seem to prefer the stuff that looks like pea soup in the pond. Whatever! As long as they’re happy.

I mentioned in my last column that the Kingfisher had returned but for the last week he has been absent from his station at the top of the light pole. It probably has something to do with this hot weather we have been experiencing, although he is supposed to be a resident of “south of the border” and should be accustomed to this enervating weather. Perhaps he has gone even further north, in search of some cooler temps. The hummingbirds don’t seem to be too concerned with the weather and are sucking up the usual amount of food from the feeders. They’ll soon be sucking up some juice from the figs on the tree outside my window. That is, if the squirrels leave them any to stick their noses into. There aren’t very many ripe figs just yet, and there’s one squirrel in particular, who is determined to get his fair share, or more, before the other fig-fanciers wake up. That’s something else I’ll leave to Nature.

And now I’d like to put in a request to the readers of this column. It seems that it is the time of year for squirrels, turtles, snakes and various other creatures to cross the roads. Please take care not to run over any innocent animals as you are driving along. And if a turtle is moving too slowly, stop and give him a helping hand. He won’t hurt you and you will feel really good afterwards for having saved one of God’s creatures. I’ve stopped and helped three turtles cross roads recently and another one I rescued from a concrete block wall where he had gotten stuck, head down, in the hole in the block.

Incidentally, a member of the Breakfast Club at Miller’s Store one morning, asked me “So what was the real reason that the chicken crossed the road?” I knew the answer wasn’t going to be as easy as just getting to the other side so I gave in and replied,” O.K. I give in. Why did the chicken cross the road?” He replied, straight faced, “To prove to the possum that it could be done!”

D.J. Sweetenham, originally from England, is the author of Bumps in the Road and Bumps in the Road - Part Two, highlights of his interesting and far-flung life. D.J., his wife, and two small dogs, live in Stockbridge.