Every time I turn around these days Nancy is raising or growing something new in our bathtub. First it was two kittens who she named Mercy & Gracie, then seedlings for the vegetable garden, and now three small Rouen ducklings she has named Daisy, Lazy & Hazy. Responding to her grandmother instinct I notice she constantly ventures into the local feed store and heads straight to the bins and cages of live baby things; little chicks, geese, rabbits, ducklings, puppies, or anything else that is peeping or meowing out for a loving mother figure. That’s what happened with the kittens last winter. As she walked by their cage a small Siamese kitten slyly reached his tiny paw through the wire of the cage that imprisoned him and gently touched Nancy’s passing arm. As you can imagine her heart melted like wax and in a moment of weakness he was in her arms. Not wanting to separate him from his fuzzy and equally cute twin sister she brought both kittens home and prepared a cozy bed for them in the master bath tub. His original name was Mercy but later was renamed Mad-Max (due to a significant puberty behavioral and attitudinal personality change). When challenged on what we were going to do with two new cats Nancy’s only response was that they were free. Free that is until she had to purchase a state of the arc litter-box, a matching set of food & water dishes and the half dozen toys needed to keep them from becoming bored, not to mention the additional expense of neutering Mad-Max and giving him a plethora of kitty shots, worming medication, etc. etc. Realizing that having two kittens in the house along with Lily was a bit much; Nancy gave Max’s sister to a friend’s granddaughters who desperately feel in love with Gracie (much to our relief).
Now, about the ducklings. Again it was a stop for feed at D&B Feed and Farm Supplies, a stop we frequently make on our way home from work. For several weeks I noticed Nancy eyeing a large feed trough filled with peeping ducklings and new born chicks. Week by week I watched as she fell deeper in love with the ducklings. She kept commenting about their tiny bills and webbed feet which I knew was a bad sign. She also commented on the fact that they were gradually being sold off and were decreased in number every time she stopped by the store – that was another bad sign. For a while I managed to talk her out of taking them home by reminding her that although we had a large half acre pond below the house we didn’t have a duck house or pen to protect them from the coyotes, skunks, raccoons, bobcats and foxes that called Timber Butte their home. My strategy was working pretty well until she spotted a copy of Hobby Farms Magazine on a rack by the cashiers counter as we were leaving the store. As only providence could have it the magazine had a portrait of a Rouen duckling on the cover that was identical to the ones being sold. Nancy knew at once that it was in fact the hand of the Lord telling her she must take the remaining ducklings home. As you might guess, the rest was history.
Once again the master bathtub no longer belongs to the master (that would be me) but rather is now a duck habitat filled with wood chips, a poultry feeder and waterier. Daisy, Lazy and Hazy are a content part of the family as plans are being drawn up for our future duck pen and house. It’s just the way things work here at Timber Butte Homestead and as tough as I sound Mad-Max contently lays on my lap every morning as I drink hot coffee and have my quiet time. He has become my good friend and has even accepted the ducklings as something more than a convenient snack.