Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Homestead in Mourning

Big Sister with her two mallards
Well, we are home. We had a wonderful visit in Mexico. And like every good adventure, it also felt very good to return home. Unfortunately, we returned home to find all of our ducks and one remaining guinea missing and our sweet old dog at the end of her life.

First, the birds. Our dear neighbors took care of all of our birds and our cat while we were away. The chickens look great but there was one night at the very end that the ducks didn't want to get back in their enclosure at night. They can be very stubborn and infuriating that way. Sometimes they require herding or multiple attempts before I can get them safely locked away. They remind me of a line from one of my favorite children's books, Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm, "They teach you patience but sometimes you can't help wishing they were different." So the ducks stayed out that night and the next morning all three of them (plus the guinea) were gone. The two Khaki Campbells and the guinea are likely dead (a few feathers at the scene) and I'm hoping the mallard flew away. I wouldn't be surprised if the mallard came back for a visit sometime.

Pete the mallard as a duckling
 In fact, the other mallard, who had been missing for a couple of weeks, made a surprise return while we were gone. Right through the living room window. The neighbors found her wandering around inside the house, unharmed. The huge living room window was shattered, which the neighbors kindly patched up for us until our return. Then the mallard disappeared again. Sigh.

Big Sister and I were especially sad about the ducks because we invested so much time and effort in raising them from day-old ducklings. Plus, the mallards were Big Sister's special pets. None of the ducks were  intended to be meat birds. They were cute and amusing and we planned to eat their eggs and let them provide duck-y services like garden weeding.

Sweet, patient Penny the dog

Our 15-year-old dog, Penny, stayed with my parents while we were gone. She had been stiff and slow for some time but while we were away her back legs just started to give out on her. When we got home we got to spend 24 hours with her before our dear vet came out to the house to put her to sleep. Mr. Chanclas dug her grave in the backyard (it requires a pickax with all this limestone) and we laid her to rest yesterday next to our cat that passed away in June. I miss her already.

So it has been a sad week here at our homestead but I am ready to return to my routine of caring for the remaining animals, feeding our family, and starting a fall garden. The summer garden burned to a crisp and it is time to plan for fall.


  1. Wow, so much loss. I'm so sorry for all of your aching hearts. Love and light to each of you.

  2. Oh my Karen, u made me tear! Summer trips are a total bummer for our gardens and pets. We lost a cat this summer as well and I lost a plant that it had grown taller than me. I hope Tallulah can find new companions and you guys recover fast from your dog and cat passing.

    On the other hand, let us know about your fall garden, maybe I can start one myself!


  3. Oh, this is terrible! A broken window, duck homicide, and a sweet companion passing away. At this point we just have to throw up our hands and laugh while we are crying, because it seriously doesn't get worse...

    Hugs for you, friend. I've been there many a time and lost both my ducks to a raccoon after we have spent tons of emotional and physical energy raising them, feeding them and loving them to pieces. I'll never have ducks again b/c I just got too attached to them and couldn't cope when they died. Same for turkeys.

    I say it's time for an iced mocha and a foot rub. After all the chores are done, that is...Be well.

  4. Oh, friends, our thoughts are with you.


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