Why Ping II? Because last year we had another foster duckling Melissa named Ping. It’s been a year, so I think I can write about it now.
Seems like every summer the last of the duck eggs takes too long to hatch, so by the time this duckling is out and ready to go, Mama and the others have already left the nest. The duckling doesn’t imprint on his mama, and gets lost a lot.
That’s what happened to the duckling above. His name is Ping II. He lives in a box in the basement at night, then hangs out in a nice cage in the shade during the day, surrounded by curious chickens and interested ducks and fascinated kittens.
What happened to Ping the First? Late June, 2006, Melissa was gone all day working at our friend’s chicken processing plant. I had this great idea to put Ping out with Daphne (his mother) and the other ducklings to see what might happen. I watched from the front door, checking every 10 minutes. When Ping couldn’t see me, he started following the other ducks. Daphne didn’t peck him, so he seemed to be accepted into the flock. So far, so good.
I was pretty pleased with myself, so got a little cavalier about checking. Thirty minutes passed before my next check. This time I did a quick head count of the babies waddling through the grass…only 9, which meant Ping was missing. I ran for the barn, and found him just inside, dead. Either a chicken or a duck killed him.
Then I started worrying about the bottle lamb I was feeding. Something was wrong with her insides—she was eating but not growing—so we didn’t want to sell her to another farmer to raise. Melissa thought the lamb should begin socializing with the flock, so had put her out in the pasture with the other sheep that morning. At noon it was nearly 100 degrees, and I began to worry the lamb wouldn’t be able to stay cool, since she still didn’t know how to drink from the water trough. So I brought her back into the barn where she’d be cooler, fed her a bottle of milk, and put her in her pen.
An hour later I went to check on her. She’d gotten out of the pen, into the chicken house, and eaten something that made her sick. She was on her side in the chicken house, dead.
Heck of a day. And I still had to give Melissa the news about Ping and the lamb when she got home.
So this year, when Melissa found herself with another foster duck, she resurrected the name Ping…and gave me strict instructions not to try any sort of Duck Integration experiment. I heartily agreed, so Ping will be Melissa’s baby until he’s old enough to defend himself.
He’s not too spoiled. She only holds him when she watches TV, takes a nap, sits on the porch swing, and talks on the phone. Some people have a thing for poultry, and Melissa is one of them. As for me, however, those rumors that I sometimes pick up Ping II, carry him around, and kiss his fuzzy little head, are just that, ugly rumors. I deny everything.