Melissa has been working so hard this spring that she needed a break. However, she doesn’t leave the farm willingly, so it took two of us to get her off the farm—her brother pulling her toward Wisconsin with tales of the fish they’d catch, and me pushing her out the door.
So I’ve been Head Farmer this weekend, and all has been going well, except for yesterday afternoon, when I became unfairly involved in a Poultry Battle.
In one corner of the fight was Daphne Duck, who recently hatched out 18 baby ducks. Yes, 18. She keeps them together, makes sure they eat and drink, and is a fierce, protective mother. She’s in the photo above, nagging some of the ducklings to get out of the pool.
In the other corner was a scrappy little white hen with black spots, whose breed I cannot remember. She successfully hid four eggs from Melissa for 30 days and hatched out four tiny chicks, who run so fast they’re like fuzzy bullets.
The two poultry families usually don’t interact, but yesterday when the feisty hen brought her brood into the barn, Daphne and her little 18 had the floor. The hen led her chicks through the baby ducks, but as a result of all the peeping and cheeping, she decided a duckling was trying to harm a chick. The hen leapt on this tiny little duck and grabbed it and started tossing it from side to side. Daphne was otherwise distracted by another duckling drama, so I threw myself at the hen, batted her aside, then scooped up the poor duckling, by this time flapping in a circle, obviously in distress.
This is when Daphne decided I was harming her baby. She dashed for me. (Here I might mention that a duck has a nasty little hook on the top side of her bill. Makes a very effective tool for grabbing and hanging onto the pudgy flesh just below some humans’ knees. I might also mention I was wearing shorts, something I never do in the barn.) Daphne opened her bill and latched onto me. (Oh, for the marble hard shins of my youth–she never would have been able to grab onto me then.)
I squeaked in pain, put the duckling down, and pulled myself free. Daphne gathered her brood together and marched away. Speckled Hen gathered hers together and stalked away in the opposite direction. I went inside to nurse my wounds, both physical and emotional.
The baby duck is okay, but limps. I know how she feels. I have a gruesome bruise. I may start limping myself soon. By the time Melissa returns tomorrow, I may be on crutches. I’m pretty sure I’ll be out of commission, as far as barn chores go, for at least a month. But at least I’ll get a dandy scar out of the whole experience.