When I became the mother of two boys, a dear friend of mine said, “Oh! Your house will be full of critters all of the time now!”
It wasn’t until the boys were older that I understood what she meant. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve been asked, “Mom, can we keep it?” I’d be floating on a yacht in the Caribbean.
We live in a menagerie already. There are ducks in the creek, toads in the flowerbeds and a bullfrog and a snake (EEK!) in the pond.
And we also have our pets: a dog, four hens and some fish.
After we lost our senior dog and a hen this summer I thought (sadly), “Wow, we are really downsizing.”
But, then a mother mallard duck built a nest in a hosta plant in our front yard. My sons — the youngest a bird fanatic — have been waiting patiently (sort-of) for the ducklings to hatch. And finally, they did.
We jumped out of our car after visiting the county fair and the mother duck quacked a royal fit at us.
She rounded up three hatchlings and bolted from the nest, but the nest was still peeping. So, we peeked and there remained two more babies and an unhatched egg.
As the evening wore on the kids went on about their business. It was an unusually cool evening for July and at dusk we checked on the ducklings again. Momma Duck had never returned and she was nowhere to be seen. The two ducklings were shivering and huddled together.
“Mom! They are going to die!” my son said.
I, myself, had goose-bumps, a cat was stalking the neighborhood for his dinner. The ducklings, which had tumbled out of the nest, peeped and cried.
“Fine,” I said reluctantly. “Go get a bucket.”
The boys put some pine shavings in a bucket with water and food and “Willie” and “Jase” (and the unhatched “Sy”) became residents in our garage under a heat lamp.
And I admit it: They were so cute.
We read online about caring for ducklings and did our best. Even my No-More-Animals-Husband was in on the action making sure they were comfortable, adjusting the heat lamp, and yes, cuddling them, too.
We were able to place the orphan ducklings in a good (duck-knowledgeable) home in less than 24-hours.
It was heartbreaking for our children … for all of about 30 minutes, “Mom! We caught a bunny! Can we keep it?”