Thursday, December 22, 2011

On the Ninth Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me: 9 Ducks A-Bugging

"On the ninth day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me:
9 ducks a-bugging,
an 8 year old dancing,
7 hens a-laying,
6 cats a-sleeping,
5 More Minutes!
4 calm equines,
3 fuzzy dogs,
2 flightless birds,
and an old farm in the country."

I never wanted ducks.

Chickens; yes. (See Day #7 of this series...) I've always wanted chickens. Chickens serve a purpose. Chickens lay eggs. Plus, they taste great.

Ducks -- actually, waterfowl in general -- were the Great Unknown. I didn't know enough about them to have strong feelings one way or the other. Guinea fowl, for instance, I knew I didn't want. Though they're pretty and, I understand, eat ticks, I can't stand to hear them. They sound exactly like a woman being heinously murdered. ::shudder:: But ducks just quack. And swim. For years, I thought they don't do much else...

If it walks like a duck...
We had one or two ducks at a time over the years, but they didn't really register as an integral part of our "vast menagerie." Then, one of the children's teachers at our church said she wanted to get some chicks and ducklings and let the kids see the babies as they fledged. But she needed a place for them to go once they'd grown. Would we take them?

I figured "some" meant 4 or 5, so I said "sure."

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that "some" meant 26!

Boy, howdy!

Suddenly we had DUCKS! And a few GEESE! And I discovered what our farm had been missing all those years:
Organic Bug Control! ~cue the dancing girls and confetti shower~
 Bug Patrol in action.
The first year we had our waterfowl, we learned that they kept to themselves. While ducks and geese happily hang out together, a definite "Us vs. Them" mentality exists between ducks and chickens.  The 2 species will co-habitate at night if locked up in the same coop -- barring other options. During daylight hours, however, they go their separate ways.

While the chickens scratch away in the dirt looking for worms, the waterfowl patrol ponds and puddles snapping up mosquito larvae like it's candy! Had I but known!

The difference a flock of ducks makes in airborne, flying pests is remarkable. There have been some years B.D. (Before Ducks) when the mosquitoes literally drove us indoors. That has never happened A.D. (After Ducks). I will never again be without a flock of ducks on my farm. I'd far rather have them than the buzzing, stinging alternative.

I am very grateful for my ducks -- perhaps all the more so because they are a blessing I never knew I wanted or needed until I had them. Some things I've wished and worked for for years before I acquired them. My ducks, in contrast, were a hidden blessing. And it's a delightful thing to be surprised by gratitude.

Have you been surprised by gratitude lately? Tell me below...

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