Duck Tales from Great Village, Nova Scotia
By Sarah Paterson. Rouen-Cross Drake becomes a friend.
People always ask me, “Ducks? Really? Why ducks?” I think it’s a legitimate question. After all, it’s not like ducks are show cats, or agility dogs. How a city girl (me) moved to the country and began to own ducks involved a pretty curvy road.
The beginning of my feathered-critter journey (we had previously own sheep and goats) all happened one winter day when a man stopped in where I worked and I noticed he had a milk crate of ducklings in the back of his truck. One of those ducklings followed me home — with a small bit of assistance from me to get my car door open. Thus began the journey of learning about the ins and outs, the dos and don’ts of raising a duckling in the house. I discovered that there were a lot of choices to make: like giving it a gender-neutral name, feeding non- medicated feed, and providing diapers. Oh the diapers. Ducklings grow extremely fast and the learning curve with our Bailey duck was steep. What wasn’t surprising was how affectionate, intelligent, and companionable ducks turned out to be, and don’t get me started on the personalities! Our winter duckling turned into a young Muscovy drake that needed a friend, and our Home for Wayward Ducks was established. We started adopting older ducks that needed re-homing for one reason or another, and soon my dreams of owning a beautiful flock of Indian Runner ducks became the motley crew of ducks we have now.
The reason I still have ducks is all due to one particular fellow: a duckling named Raleigh. He was an incubator-hatched fellow who was a gift from my neighbour after I lost a duck. Raleigh became my buddy, grew into a handsome Rouen-cross drake, and was dedicated to our friendship. He would willingly go on car rides, or camping, and could be seen chasing my car down the driveway if I left without him. Raleigh, named for Sir Walter Raleigh, would come when called, sing songs with me, and give me hugs; he was the best of companions. With Raleigh in tow we helped out several local Four-H petting zoos, as he really was a little human in a feather suit, and taught many children and adults to love and admire ducks. Watching a new owner experience wonder as they touch their new bird for the first time, or taking a toddler’s hand and slipping it up under a wing to feel the warm downy feathers, well it really is magic.
The best part of any summer afternoon is a visit to our back yard and this strange family of ours. Unlike the velociraptors that are chickens, ducks are slow and plodding hadrosaurs, always looking like they have somewhere important to go, eventually, when they are not napping. They tell me profound things about the way of the world. That is why ducks.
Sarah Paterson currently lives in Rural Nova Scotia, with her teenage son, long-suffering husband, and many critters she calls family. Writing stories about her life with ducks and chickens is finally using that BA she earned at St. Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. When she is not looking after her family, she runs a take-out pizza shop from the back of her 1870’s Victorian home. Greetings from Great Village.