It began with simple doodles and crayon drawings, then an iPad screensaver and school art projects followed a similar theme.
Several months ago, my 10-year-old son became head over heels about ducks - the pretty white kind with fluffy feathers and bright orange feet and beaks. The kind that start out life as fuzzy yellow ducklings and grow into stately swimmers known to be faithful to their caregivers and much more gentle than geese.
“I just love ducks,” he’d simply tell me. “They’re my favorite.”
It wasn’t because we had just visited a zoo - the last time we did that giraffes were his favorite for awhile. We don’t know anyone with a farm. And I can’t remember the last time I read him Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Ugly Duckling.”
No, this fixation was a bit out of the blue. And it’s made our summer a bit out of the ordinary.
It was January and snow covered the roof right outside his bedroom window when he asked if he could have real ducks. He decided he would keep them in a box next to his bed. If they needed to go out for fresh air, he would make a platform on the roof and cover it with astroturf like a little duck deck.
“It’ll be perfect, Mom, I’ll just lift them out and then bring them back in when they’re cold. Can I, can I?”
The fact that L&M Fleet Supply doesn’t get orders for poultry until spring helped me answer that one. Yet as months went by the duck deal remained as strong as ever. All the spring and Easter decor made him even more infatuated with the birds. Then we saw that annual sign that L&M hangs right next to Pokegama Avenue, “THE CHICKS ARE HERE!”
While he waited for the day when Mom would have time to take him to the store after school, he did his research. He googled: “What kind of house do you get a duck?” “What do ducks eat?” “How fast do ducks grow?” “What supplies do you need for ducks?”
When the day came to make a stop at L&M, the two of us nearly skipped down the aisle toward the bins full of peeping sounds. Dozens of tiny, downy creatures were scurrying about under heat lamps but as cute as they were, they were all chickens - no ducks yet!
So we were told to come back. Another trip to L&M turned into four after we got our first glimpse of Pekin ducklings only to be told they were spoken for. In the meantime, my little guy counted his quarters and purchased all the necessary supplies we would need to be prepared for the day we might be lucky duck owners.
When the day came that our ducks were in, we buzzed into town early one morning before school. At home, the Rubbermaid container was ready with bedding and a cup full of food next to a water dish all cozy in our basement. Again, he relied on Google for “What are good names for ducks?” And Bill and Web became the newest members of our family.
From the basement, they moved up to the bathroom - to get more daily human interaction, decided my thoughtful husband. This location also gave our dog a closer look at these new creatures in the house. As they got bigger, we placed them in the bathtub while we cleaned their little plastic box. They completely enjoyed this experience and it was immediately obvious how much ducks love water. We’d turn on the shower and they’d flock to the drops, shaking and splashing in the puddles.
As Bill and Web grew, we found them a nice duck coop and runner. Their duck “cabin” now sits adjacent to our home. They even have a swimming pool!
They are getting used to foraging about our yard. The dog is completely fine with them as long as they don’t get close to her tennis ball. And my son is learning to take on a new responsibility as a proud duck daddy.