I should be outside as we had some very early morning thunder storms which gave us rain; much, much needed rain. It is now cloudy and as soon as the sun breaks out the humidity and heat factor will surge. I should be outside cleaning out my weedy rock wall. The rock wall is so weedy, it is next to obliterating the rocks in the wall. I should be doing that, but I am here instead paying my respects to a little duckling.
Kurt came in yesterday excited that we had ducklings on our pond. He knew Momma Mallard had a nest somewhere in the tall grass off the pond as we saw them almost constantly of late. This was the first case of ducks nesting on the pond in its almost 10 year history. Cattails have overtaken 3/4's of the pond edging, and its on our list to clean out certain areas of them, but we realize they provide cover for nesting ducks.
Kurt saw the ducklings about a half to a full dozen of the little guys twice yesterday swimming close to Momma. He was delighted that he had those ducks and hoped that at least half would grow big enough to fly away. We know that ducklings have many natural enemies so half surviving was probably optimistic.
This morning I heard him yelling outside at our dog, Tally. I assumed she was chasing baby bunnies again which she does frequently when outside the fence. I feel like "Watership Down" these days as we are almost over run with "wasically wabbits". So far they haven't destroyed any major plant life, the unusually high bug population this year seems to have done more damage.
I had been feeling happy for lack of any better word this morning. The rain had helped and even though I knew we would return to heat shortly, things seemed to be going better. Then Kurt came in carrying a cardboard box, telling me Tally got one of the ducklings. When I asked if she killed it, he said no, but he had it in the box, as when he tried to put her back in the water, she flipped on her back. He wanted to see if she was just shaken so left her in the box for an hour or so while we land trained the dogs.
I was pulling weeds out of the sand beach by the pond after the dogs were done and put in the house. Kurt came out carrying the duckling and carried it to the far side of the pond in a clear area to put it back in the water. He now knows he should have released it in the cattail area or waited until he could find the mom and siblings swimming, but he was anxious to know if the little lady could swim. So he put her in the water and she took off swimming but he quickly realized he had made a grave mistake. The little swimmer was immediately assailed by one of our pond's small mouth bass. He started yelling as the bass would pull her under, but she would re-emerge still bravely swimming. He threw rocks behind her hoping to scare off the bass but he kept nipping at her as she swam across the pond towards me where I watched with a sickening feeling. When she got closer to me, I began throwing rocks and she turned to head to the safety of the cattails her only hope. But one last time she was pulled under and didn't resurface.
Kurt was frantic and my calm, hunting husband actually had tears in his eyes over the little duckling's fate. We knew the odds were against most of the duckling's surviving, and hoped against hope because we rescued her from certain death in the jaws of Tally, we believed she had been given a reprieve. He blamed himself for letting her go in open water, alone where he knew bass would eat her, (which is far more than I knew and now unhappily, I am informed). Her odds were never good, but we believed for a short time she had beat the odds.
An ordinary day made a little less bright for the loss of a little duckling that had we not come to her rescue would never have known her fate. She might have been hunting fodder for her very rescuer in a couple of years, but my big, strong husband was grieving over the little fuzzy baby, only a couple of days old, he didn't save and probably allowed certain death when he put her back in the pond. This was the reason I married him, his gentleness at unexpected times and his grief over the "least of these". Its why we are still married after 35 years.
It is survival of the fittest in nature and when we say we like living among the wild creatures, it is one of the lessons we have to be taught and retaught. Time to go tackle that rock wall, wiser and sadder, but realizing the rest of the ducklings are still swimming in our pond....