The Duck Who Couldn't Swim

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Once upon a time, my husband and I and our two sons lived on ten acres overlooking Stillhouse Hollow Lake in Central Texas, near Salado. Our little plot of land bordered the Army Corps Of Engineers land that surrounded the lake.

Our house was high on a hill and the land dropped away behind it in shelf-like layers. On the second layer was the barn and workshop. On the third layer was a small field and a pond, which is Texas is often called a “tank”. The final layer was the lake itself.

We had some mallard ducks, but they were slowly ravaged and eaten by the many critters that lived in the land. A few hardy, crafty hens and a drake survived. One hen layed a large clutch of eggs near the tank. But that didn’t last. Eaten by a fox or a raccoon or a opossum or one of any number of varmints that shared the land with us. So she layed another clutch of eggs on the next higher level of land, near the barn. Same ending.

The poor duck would not give up and finally she deposited her eggs in a nest she created right next to the chimney of our house, which was right outside our picture window. (Remember those?) Each day we could look out and see her sitting there, patient and confident that she was taking care of her eggs. It worked.

A few weeks later she hatched about 9 or 10 little ducklings! The cutest things you ever saw. Hours later she took them down to the pond. Can you even imagine how many tiny steps those little webbed feet took to get down there??

They swam in that pond for a very short time. The catfish we had stocked in the pond opened their wide mouths and swallowed them like bugs! I was horrified for a while, but this is MOTHER NATURE, folks. She’s never seen a Walt Disney movie. Only the strong or the very lucky survive.

Back at the house, the boys were looking at an egg that didn’t hatch. It was still in the nest, but had a little hole in it and you could see a tiny little beak moving and weakly chipping away at the egg shell. MOM, we have to help it! Wow. My husband was a Game Warden and had always told me there is a reason some eggs don’t hatch. The bird inside is weak or mal-formed and just won’t make it anyway. But two little boys didn’t want to hear that, so we gently helped that little duckling fight his way out of the egg, slowly, a little at a time, as natural as we could make it. Put him in a box and sat him on the dryer with a light above him to keep him warm. Fed him, got him to drink. Over the next days, he spent a lot of time in one little-boy-hand or the other, watching cartoons on tv, lol.

We named him, of course. Donald, of course. He grew up fine and healthy, except he walked with a little limp and one of his wings was so crooked it stuck out like an artificial limb not quite correctly attached, so he couldn't fly.

The only thing we forgot to do was put him in water and let him swim. So, he never did want to swim. Wouldn’t go near the water. I often took him out and turned over rocks so he could find crickets and other bugs to eat, lol. He was a very plucky ducky, lol.

In the summer, the boys took him down to swim in the tank with them. He wouldn’t have it. We made a boat from the lid of a styrofoam ice chest, and the boys put a rope handle on it and pulled Donald around the tank on that lid when they swam. He would settle down on that lid and seemed to enjoy the ride! He certainy NEVER jumped off, lol.

He lived a long and happy life, was a real pet, just a little funny looking and certainly the only duck we knew that couldn’t swim, lol.

(Inspired by JUSTJO66's blog, A Lesson from a Duck.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Beautiful story!
    3063 days ago
    What a great story. I will have to share with my grandchildren.
    3063 days ago
  • MOGAL1946
    What a wonderful story! Thank you for sharing. These memories can be passed down to future generations for enjoyment! Love all your blogs and think you missed your calling and should have been an author! Have a super great day.

    3063 days ago
    Karen this was a heart touching story. I could almost see the whole picture the way you told it. You are an awesome writer. I really enjoy reading your memories. Keep them coming. Life is all about memories. You have some real good memories. Thanks for sharing them.
    3064 days ago
  • JUSTJO66
    Great story Karen. I'm with PJ..I've never seen a duck that couldn't swim either but I sure would have liked to have seen one on a styrofoam boat..:o) Sounds like your boys had/have tender hearts for the animals, too, like you and your husband. I think children born with animals to care for learn so many good things from them. Thanks for writing this.

    3064 days ago
    Wonderful story - and very good lessons for the children too - and maybe for the rest of us too!!
    3064 days ago
    Maybe nature has its way of letting animals know their limitations. I'm sure Donald didn't miss being eaten like his siblings!
    3064 days ago
    I agree, GREAT STORY! Your boys could probably remember many great stories about dear Donald, as everybody sees things differently.
    3064 days ago
    Thanks for the heart warming duck story. I feel for the little duck, but I'm glad that your boys took care of him. That duck knew that your family cared for him. Animals are smarter than we think. emoticon
    3064 days ago
    What a wonderful memory. I bet you sons remember Donald too. You ought to ask them. I have never seen a duck that couldn't swim let alone one being pulled around on a styrofoam raft. I bet it was hilarious. PJ
    3064 days ago
  • GABY1948
    Oh, this is a MARVELOUS story, Karen! I love your stories. We do have the same heart for animals. My dh is alot like your dh...he has taught me so much. But my dh was not a game warden though he would love to have been or now wishes he had joined the DNR. He did work for government...just the drain commission.

    Keep writing these awesome stories, please!
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    3064 days ago
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