52Best

The Friday Morning Story

April 30, 2004


Mr. and Mrs. Duck

* Chuck the Adopted Duck *


My family and I lived on a small farm in Burleson, Texas along with our menagerie of animals. We had horses, rabbits, cows, dogs, cats, a goat and my grandfather's flock of chickens. One memorable Christmas a friend of mine gave me a peculiar gift; a pair of Mallard ducks! I called them, "Mr. and Mrs. Duck". The duck couple soon settled in with the chickens in the chicken coup.

"Miss Piggy" was one of our favorite chickens. She was the loudest squawker, the one who laid the most eggs, and the one in charge of the other hens. She "ruled the roost" with authority, and so the ducks shied away from her.

Winter passed, spring came and went, and before we knew it summer was upon us. This particular summer we stabled an injured racehorse that belonged to one of our friends. His nickname was "JR" because he was always in trouble. At a racetrack in Louisiana, he put his foot through a box fan and nearly cut it off. The extent of his injury would require hours of hydrotherapy. I would stand by his side and hold a water hose on his wound for hours at a time and then hand walk him slowly around the farm. 

One day my veterinarian and I were walking JR when I glanced over to the chicken coup and saw Mrs. Duck sitting on a nest. She sat out in the open sun, uncovered, with no shade to guard her from the scorching heat. I noticed Mr. Duck was quietly in the shadow of the barn busily pecking at the ground.

Several days went by and Mrs. Duck was still sitting on her nest. She looked like she was barely alive. Her feathers had fallen to the side, she had not eaten, and she had no water to drink. A week later when the vet came back to check JR's foot, he noticed Mrs. Duck had not moved from her nest.

Now most vets would never notice a duck when they were on a call to check on a racehorse, but my vet was a kind man who believed one animal is as significant as another. He gently said to me,

"You MUST get your duck off her nest and break her egg! If you don't, she will surely die!"

After he left, I did exactly what he had told me to do. Have you ever heard "Madder than an old wet hen?" Well, Mrs. Duck screamed, she pecked the ground, she flapped her wings, and she ran around in circles. The whole barnyard was alive with excitement.


After what seemed like forever, she finally stood in the middle of the water trough and cooled her whining down to a mumble. Somehow I did not feel good about what I had done. I thought I had saved her life, but by doing this I felt as if I had broken more than an egg. I felt that I had broken her heart.

A few days later as I walked by the chicken coup, I couldn't believe my eyes! There she was! Mrs. Duck was sitting on another nest! This time she had not "laid an egg," she was "sitting" on a CHICKEN egg! I have never figured out if it was one of Miss Piggy's eggs, but sure as nature would have it, one day a chicken did hatch! We named him "CHUCK, The Duck, Half-Chicken, Half-Duck." 

Chuck grew taller than his parents. He was a "white Leghorn chicken," and they were "black Mallard ducks." He couldn't swim, and he couldn't fly. Chuck hopped, while his parents waddled. But the neat thing was the way they looked up at him while he walked between them. You see, to them Chuck was the most beautiful thing in the world. He was theirs and they loved him. 

Many summers have come and gone since those days on the farm. Now I live and work in the city. Sometimes I close my eyes and dream of that meaningful day when the persistence of a farm animal taught me how to love. A duck, who wanted something to love so badly, that she hatched a chicken.

I wonder, if we all looked at each other through the eyes of those ducks as they looked at Chuck, wouldn't our world be a better place to live?

 

        ~ The Author is Nancy Miller who once wondered if animals had feelings and instincts like humans. Her answer to this question is this true story about "Chuck the Adopted Duck." She dedicates this story to her beloved friends who come in different shapes, sizes, and colors but who all work well together in "The story of love." ~

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Questions were asked by our 52Best Readers after the above story was sent on Friday morning. I emailed the author, Nancy Miller, and here are her answers:

 

1. We did not provide a "nest" for Mr. and Mrs. Duck. They were "guests" in the chicken pen and were free to come and go. The chickens had a "roost" that was in the shade. Mrs. Duck was a nervous, first time mother and wanted to be separate from any other FEMALE foul. She decided to lay her egg on top of the roof of an old unused dog house.

2. The vet said you have to break the egg because it was rotten. He was correct, the distasteful odor could be smelled for 2 counties.

3. The first egg was a duck egg. She wanted a baby so bad that after her first egg, she just migrated over to the chicken coup and sat on a chicken egg. I will never forget the day Chuck hatched. It was a miracle. We had many births on the farm, horses, cows, dogs, rabbits, cats, goats...but never anything as amazing as Chuck the adopted Duck.

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