A friend donated a duck to our pond yesterday, and it reminded me of this story from a few years back. I hope it makes your heart happy. Uncle Vern.
Everybody needs a duck in their back yard: they’d be a lot happier. Let me tell you about ours—Aflack by name—who began life I’m 99% sure on a local duck ranch. Now I know a bit about how a duck grows because every once in a while we’ll get an odd one (I guess that’d be an odd duck wouldn’t it) from the hatchery mixed in with the chicks.
They start out just a bit smaller than a chick so at first you don’t even notice ‘em but by 4–5 weeks they’re twice as big and that’s sayin’ something because a chicken is crankin’ out the growth himself. I asked Steven, one of our flock managers, how in the world this was possible and he responded with perfect logic: “That’s easy, just watch ‘em, they eat with a shovel instead of a beak!” Made sense to me.
Back to Aflack, he’d no doubt reached market weight and I surmise was on his way to becoming Peking duck when somehow he escaped his fate and was found disoriented beside the road by one of my friend Dean Johnston’s 4th grade students. She took him home and made a place in their kitchen for him, but after a couple weeks of this not working out so well with mom or the duck (maybe Aflack just didn’t like their spaghetti sauce), the little girl called Dean who called me and soon Aflack found himself tossed into a strange substance called water.
Up until now, the only water Aflack knew about came out of an overhead nipple drinker. Now he’s sitting in it and because he’s a duck after all doesn’t sink but floats. You’ve heard the saying “takes to it like a duck to water”—well, in Aflack’s case: his ancestors haven’t seen a pond for a few hundred generations. He walks like a duck and sounds like a duck but swimming like a duck’s a scary thing. He just went in circles and backwards until somehow he finally made it to shore and stood there relieved to have solid footing.
That’s where he stood an inch out of water in the shade for the first day. I figured a fox might be his demise but he made it through the night and the next morning had actually moved about 20 feet.
It took him about a week to figure out he could swim and a month to join the other geese and duck. Had Aflack been a hen, I’m sure our existing drake would have provided personal tutoring but alas, he had to figure it out on his own.
Aflack’s been a resident of Uncle Vern’s pond for a few months now. His pale legs and beak have turned an appropriate dark orange on a proper duck diet of grass and he exults in his duckishness doing the bottoms up duck thing in the pond.
But here’s the big deal for us. About every 10–15 minutes, for no apparent reason, Aflack lets out a huge WAAACKK WAACKK WAACKK WAACKK WAACKK. It sounds to us like he just heard the biggest belly laugh joke in the world. Remember those old laugh machine boxes where you push a button and get a recording of some moron laughing his head off? At first you’re not impressed but after a bit you just can’t help it, you’re laughing too at absolutely nothing. Well, that’s the service Aflack with his tiny duck brain performs on our farm and you just have to chuckle along with him.
Aflack is just happy about life, happy about his pond, happy about plenty of grass and he’s not afraid to share his exuberance with the whole world and the whole world is better off. Share a rich belly laugh today & eat healthy!