Archive for June, 2014

A Momma Duck Gets More Ducklings

We had a young teenage-type mother duck hatch out ducklings. All my temporary pens that I use for housing chicks and ducklings were unfortunately full, so I didn’t have anyplace to keep them. She seemed to be a conscientious, caring duck mother who was always hovering over her little ones protecting them.

I did not know at the time that she was missing an eye. She always kept the side of her head with the eye in it turned to keep me under observation. Had I known, I would have turned out a family with slightly older babies in order to give her ducklings a chance at life.

Muscovy ducklings have a hard time of it here. There are hawks in the day flying overhead looking for unaccompanied ducklings and chicks. There are owls and foxes and raccoons and possums at night. Even the very best of duck mothers commonly lose half to two thirds of their brood to predators.

Predators aren’t the only danger the ducklings face. The male ducks will crush their skulls and carry them around, trying to lure the mother ducks into range for breeding purposes. Then they’ll eat the dead ducklings. Some seem to acquire quite a taste for them.

When the ducklings were still less than a week old, I found the young mother duck calling and calling her ducklings that we never found. She looked behind bushes and plants. She ran and ran, calling. All night, she quietly called to her ducklings, but in a quiet, mournful tone as though she knew they were gone for good.

This morning, I heard the piping of newly-hatched ducklings calling frantically for their mother. I ran outside. There were three black and yellow balls of fluff running for their lives and calling mommy. A big male had a dead duckling dangling from his bill. *sigh* I quickly caught the three loose ducklings and put them in the back of my truck. I chased down the rogue male and put him in a pen so he could be butchered later. Then I gathered up the ducklings and walked around with them peeping loudly for TWO HOURS trying to find their mommy duck. No response from the females. A bad mother duck would leave her newly hatched ducklings to the mercies of predators for a short time to bathe and feed, but not for two hours. Mother duck was either on a nest somewhere far enough away that she could not hear the frantic cries of her ducklings (and the first-hatched ducklings may well have followed a non-parental duck away from the nest), or momma duck was a casualty in the night along with the rest of their siblings.

I caught the ducklings and put them in a small movable 4 x 4 pen recently vacated by a mother duck and her five half-grown ducklings. They squeezed out through the 1″ chicken wire. Drat. Back into the back of the truck with them while I think about this. I grabbed my net and went looking for the one-eyed duck. She was in the company of the two huge males that had probably eaten her ducklings. I chased her around the house and eventually netted her, and then put her in the pen. She was not very happy, so I waited until the duck profanities had ceased, and put the ducklings in. They immediately ran to the protection of the “mother” and huddled underneath her. She bent her head around so she could look at them with her one eye. She looked up at me with a “WTF?” expression.

She didn’t try to immediately bite them or drive them away which I took as a good sign. I put food in the pen, and she showed them where to eat. I put water in, and she showed them where to drink. Again, she didn’t try to drive them away. Occasionally, one would lift its voice in a call to its real mother, but a quiet cry now as though it knew it would never again be answered.

Will she accept them? I don’t yet know. Her ducklings have been dead for two weeks, and those momma hormones may be gone. She may yet suddenly decide to kill these interlopers masquerading as her own dearly departed ducklings. I hope that she will take them, though. They’ve been together for almost five hours, and she hasn’t killed them yet, which I’m taking as a good sign. She did bite one, though. Maybe he deserved it.

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Arizona’s 12th Summer

arizona at fort clinch

My goodness, it seems like just yesterday she was learning to walk. Time is flying waaaay faster with the grandkids than it did with the children!

I just thought of something really scary, too. If she reproduces on my Mom’s schedule, I could be a great grandmother in FOUR YEARS! If she reproduces on MY schedule, I could be a great grandmother in seven years.

On the other hand, her youngest sister is two years old. She may be so tired of small children by the time she grows up that she’ll just get a dog.

Contemplating great grandparenthood is really strange when I’m still not sure about what I want to do when I grow up.

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Swimming Lessons or No Swimming Lessons?

I decided to discuss swimming lessons for the grandkids over dinner with SwampMan and Dylan. Everybody is more amenable to suggestion when their stomachs are full, and this would be a hard sell.

“So, I’m thinking about getting swimming lessons for Dylan” I began. SwampMan grunted “NOT a good idea. They’re expensive. They’re time consuming. They’ll be completely wasted without immediate follow up and follow through.”

“Well, he’s already late for beginning swimming lessons” I continued. “He should have started long ago. At this point, he’ll have to be in a beginning class with three to five year olds.”

“When I went for swimming lessons, I was 12 years old!” said SwampMan. I had to be in a class of little kids like that. But the water scared the crap out of me, and I quit after one lesson.”

“I think I’m going to pass on swimming lessons!” chimed in Dylan while gnawing his MAN’S DINNER, which was a couple of ribs. “It would scare the crap out of me just like it scared the crap out of Papa!”

“Why Dylan?” asked SwampMan. “Why not the other grandkids?”

“Because Dylan is so impetuous!” I answered. “Besides, Jacob would probably be too embarrassed and cool to get into the water for lessons with little children, and you know how difficult it is to try to persuade him to try something new. Zoe can take lessons next summer when she’s four as long as I buy her a pretty pink bathing suit first. If Dylan goes first, maybe Jacob will decide that he wants to go too. Arizona has been swimming for awhile now.”

“What does ‘impetuous’ mean?” demanded Dylan. “You said I was impetuous, and I do not know what that means!”

“It means somebody that does things without thinking about the consequences!” I said.

“I’m not impetuous!” said Dylan. “Did you know that I drownded before?”

“What did he just say?” asked SwampMan.

“He said he drowned before. How did you drown, Dylan?”

“I fell into a pool at my day care, and nobody saw me. I went completely under water!” he said proudly. “Besides, I don’t want to have to wear stupid swimmees in a pool like a baby.”

I looked at SwampMan.

“Hmmm. I see your point. Well, what do the swimming lessons consist of?”

“Well, week one would teach him basic water safety, opening his eyes underwater, and floating with assistance. He has to pass all objectives to move on to week two, in which he would be floating and bobbing unassisted, swimming under water, etc. He wouldn’t really learn any swimming strokes until week three and four, and I doubt we’d get that far this summer. I really just want to do basic drownproofing in case he steps off a dock when fishing, or steps off a boat, or is running around the side of a pool and falls in!”

“You’ll be driving 70 miles round trip a day!”

“I know!”

“When do the classes start?”

*sigh* “Monday. It may be too late to sign up.”

We took our kids to get swimming lessons faithfully when they were small, but they didn’t *really* learn to swim until we got a pool. I was terrified that they would get into water and I wouldn’t be able to save them because, you see, I have a morbid fear of water. I can’t even stand in a shallow pool without hyperventilating. I should obviously live in a place with no open water, but here I am, in Florida.

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Breakfast with K.C. of Pixie’s Place

K.C. was back on this side of the state for about a week, so she joined me for breakfast at a local restaurant. We were not alone. We were each accompanied by one grandchild. Dylan was with me, and Kaylee was with K.C.

Kaylee is a lovely and petite blonde child who is usually quite quiet, at least with strangers. Dylan is a little rascal that is NEVER quiet, even with admonishing glares from me. They found that they liked the same breakfast. Kaylee had one pancake, one scrambled egg, and bacon. Dylan had a MAN’S BREAKFAST (as he put it) of two eggs, two sausage patties, and two pancakes.

They then discovered a mutual love of hide and seek outside while K.C. and I said our goodbyes. It is a little hard to play hide and seek while standing in front of a restaurant, but they did their best!

Later, when SwampMan got home, I told him all about the good time that they’d had playing together. “So, did you two set any dates for the wedding?” he asked. “What? NO!” I answered. “Why would you say such a thing?”

“Isn’t that what you wimmenfolk do when you get together?” he asked.

“Well, actually, we’re far more interested in how Obama traded terrorists for a deserter, and how we’re being overrun by illegals than in merging our households!” I informed him. “We’re concerned about terrorism affecting our families with a president who does not have the best interests of the country at heart. We’re worried about the possibility of the military being ordered back into a more dangerous situation with their hands even more firmly tied behind their backs and, in the event they are wounded or killed, not having the medical care and disability services to which they are entitled.”

“Say, how long WAS this breakfast, anyway?”

“About the same as usual.”

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Lila’s 2-Week Birthday Was Friday

Lila at 2 weelsLila and Mommy at 2 weeks

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Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day to the all the guys out there that have busted their butts to provide for their little ones. Have a good one, guys!

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Lila and Jacob

jacob and Lila

Lila has developed jaundice, and she is supposed to stay in the light bed 24/7. She has to be fed and changed and temperature taken every two hours around the clock. Mommy is very, very tired. Luckily, Jacob is a good helper, although Mommy did refer to him as the clock Nazi just because, when Mom was a minute late on the every 2-hour feeding, temperature taking, and changing because she was exhausted and Lila was sleeping soundly, he told her “Fine. Just let the baby die, then!”

Since she’s been in the light bed, the swelling around her eyes and her cheeks has gone down considerably. Now she looks like a baby instead of an Adams Family uncle.

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Shooting Wasp Nests With BB Guns

Dylan decided to practice his marksmanship with a pellet rifle yesterday, and took a can out of a bin at Swampman’s barn. Swampman keeps a bin outside of his barn for the kids to throw their soda cans into so that he can melt them (soda cans, not kids!) down for the purpose of casting things, pouring molten aluminum into fire ant nests, etc.

Dylan set the can down, backed off a bit, and started shooting it. That’s when he found that there was a wasp nest inside the can. The wasps didn’t much mind him carrying the can containing the nest, but they sure didn’t like being shot with a pellet rifle. Wasps came flying out of the can and chased Dylan. One nailed him behind the knee.

Dylan racked his weapon at the barn (good man!) and ran inside the house for assistance. The sting behind the knee was starting to welt and a large red inflamed bruise formed around it. It hurt to bend his leg. I immediately sliced a piece off a raw onion and gave it to him to hold in place. After a few minutes, I diced a raw onion and bound it to the sting with plastic wrap. He complained that the onion stung, but stayed in place long enough to read another couple chapters of Sir Fartsalot. Then he wanted to walk through the house, dropping onions as he went, and I decided that it was time to remove the poultice. “It still hurts!” he declared. I looked at it. The welt was gone, and the redness was gone except where the stinger had entered the skin. That spot was still bright red. “Yeah, but you’re bending your leg when you walk now!” I told him. “Yeah, I guess I am!” he said, and ran outside to drive a tractor with Papa.

This morning, he declared in surprise about his sting “I can’t feel it at all! It doesn’t hurt at all!”

“Any itching?” I asked. That residual itch is the worst.

“No, nothing!”

“Remember this when you get older so that you can make stings better when you get stung again!” I ordered.

You would think that I would have had sense enough to apply juicy onion slices to the yellow fly bites that I got yesterday, but you would be wrong. I’m walking around scratching the welts on my legs today. Oh, well. They’ll stop itching in a week or so.

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Aaaaand Jacob Goes Back Home to Help

Papa and 4 grandkidsJacob went home to help Mom with the baby when Mom goes into the doctor’s office to get her staples removed tomorrow. He’s a quietly effective peacemaker and babysitter, so much so that sometimes I forget what a good job he does protecting Zoe from Dylan’s mischief while simultaneously keeping Dylan amused. Until, of course, he’s not here.

Dylan was quite upset on the way home from Mom and Dad’s house today. “Jacob isn’t even going to miss us!”

“Yes, he will. He told me that it was going to be really weird for you not to be there!” I assured him.

“Well, when HE heard I was maybe going to be gone all summer, he said ‘YESSSSSS!’ I HEARD him!” Dylan said. I think his feelings were really hurt.

“That’s not true. It is going to be quiet and boring, and the new baby is only going to cry and poop. He’s going to miss playing with you!”

“No, he won’t. He’s just going to play stupid video games ALL DAY LONG and won’t even think about me!”

Well, all that misery needed an outlet, and y’all know what rolls downhill.

While we were at Mommy’s House, Zoe started getting all teary eyed at the thought of leaving Mommy. “Mommy, I don’t want to leave you!” she said, tears rolling down her cheeks. Mommy, who misses her children, started having some tear rolling of her own.

“Excuse me?” I said. “I thought we weren’t going to upset Mommy when you know she can’t take care of you yet. Besides, do you want the baby chickens and ducks to die because you’re not there to feed them every morning? And who is going to walk with me at the beach and pick up shells? I’m going tomorrow, you know….” Yep, I threw enough guilt in there that she should be in therapy for five years.

Mommy said “You can come home Friday night and Daddy will be able to take care of you over the weekend!” Zoe smiled and said “Okay, MeeMaw, I’ll come home with you so that you won’t be sad!”

You can imagine Zoe’s reaction, therefore, when I heard Dylan quietly tell her in the back seat of the truck “Mommy and Daddy gave you and me to MeeMaw and Papa, and you’re never. Ever. Going. To. See. Them. Ever. AGAIN!”

“But I want to see my Momma! I want her NOW!” sobbed Zoe.

“Zoe, we’re not keeping you forever! We’re just keeping you until Mommy feels better! You’re going home on Friday for the weekend!” I told her. “Then, Dylan and maybe you will be coming back next week until Mommy feels all better.”

“No!” she sobbed. “Dyllie said that I’ll never see my Momma AGAIN.”

*sigh* “Dylan, tell her the truth.”

“We’re going home to see Mommy in a couple days.”

“NO! Dyllie said that I don’t have a fambly anymore!”

“DYLAN! Zoe, of COURSE you have a family! Papa and I are your family! Dylan is your family! Jacob is your family! Baby Lila Rose is your family! Mommy and Daddy are you family! You have lots of other family, too.”

That placated her for a little while, until Dylan whispered “Bogman!” She squealed loudly.

“STOP THAT!” ordered SwampMan. “What was that all about?”

“Dylan and Jacob made up a story about a Bogman that lives in the swamp and steals little girls in order to terrorize her.”

“Our next vehicle will definitely be a cargo van”, said SwampMan. “A cargo van with really, really thick doors between us in front and the cargo in back.”

So, here we are, back home. Zoe has been playing quietly with her dolls while Dylan has read aloud about a hundred pages of SirFartsalot. Then they colored companionably together, and then Dylan did tricks with his paper airplane while Zoe watched and cheered his efforts. There’s a severe thunderstorm going on outside so our grandkids’ first choice in fine dining, weiners grilled over a fire with flaming marshmallows for desert, is not going to happen. The chicken for chicken and rice is simmering on the stove, lightning and thunder crashes outside, all while SwampMan snoozed in his chair. The peaceful moment lasted for about, oh, five minutes, then they switched to tag. So much for SwampMan’s nap!

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Mommy and Baby Have Left the Hospital

jenny and lila

Mommy has been discharged from hospital care to once again rejoin the world of hair care products for the frizzies, mascara, and contacts. As long as there is food, Lila doesn’t appear to care much one way or another.

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