The Duck Diaries

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Ducklings are Here!!


The drive up north on Friday was long but uneventful, just the way I like it. With every trip, though, it seems like the road gets longer and longer. Over the hills from our little farm, to the freeway that takes us out of the county. Up the coast where the fog hangs like a sheet covering the morning sun then turn inland and the fog burns off, the sun comes out and the weather changes from cool coastal to warm and dry. Before you know it we’ve passed through towns and small cities before the road opens up into miles of rich green fields of farmland. This valley that is cased in morning fog and cooled in the evening by an ocean breeze is the salad bowl of California. The fields are a patchwork of lettuce, spinach, asparagus, cabbage and broccoli, dotted by colorful tractors and irrigation lines that seem to stretch into the horizon.

We arrived at Metzer Farms about 3:30 in the afternoon. Early enough that we wouldn’t have to rush to get to the show grounds before dark (an hour away). It was stormy, chilly and the wind was blowing briskly, which made it seem even colder. Ashley met us in the driveway and told us where to park so we would not be in the way.

Metzer Farms is a large waterfowl breeding operation. Pastures full of breeding females line the driveway leading to the brooding house and shipping barn. The pens are long and narrow with a duck house at the far end. I walked along the road looking at the huge flocks resting under the trees. We could hear the cacophony of babies through the open door of the brooder house.

I walked back to the truck and unpacked the temporary brooder we brought with us, lined it with a few layers of paper towels then proceeded into the office. As Ashley and I chatted about the breeds I bought and any special care instructions, she typed up my receipt. When we were finished I waited patiently, thinking that one of the workers would walk through the door with my new batch of ducklings, but no one came.

When Ashley asked if I needed anything else I sheepishly said, “the ducks”, at which point she looked over toward the side of her desk. When I walked around the corner there they were, snug and quiet and all twelve of them in the bottom of a paper grocery bag. Low tech packaging, perfect.

I chuckled, and with that Brianne grabbed the bag and we made our way to the truck where we transferred our new charges to the safety of the large green storage bin. Fancy, I know. There was a little bit of orchard grass in the bottom of the bag so I spread it around the bottom of the brooder box to give the little guys better footing. We were back on the road, heading for one of the last sheep shows of the season in no time.

While we were unloading the trailer and setting up equipment at the show grounds, friends kept coming up asking where our newest additions were. They know all too well our penchant for acquiring livestock and hauling it from show to home (gotta make every trip count). I laughed and said they were lounging in the hotel room.

That’s right, folks, while Brianne and I were setting up for her show the ducklings had been smuggled into our hotel room and were warm and comfortable while a storm raged and we froze. Brianne was concerned we would get into trouble because the hotel didn’t allow pets. As we ran up the stairs with our lidded box I told her these were not pets, they were meat ducks so the rule didn’t apply. She wasn’t sure that would be a viable excuse had we been caught. We weren’t.

The drive home was not as quiet and leisurely as we had on the way north; nope, not at all. The storm that drenched us on Saturday was unrelenting on the drive home. At times were could barely see the road. A white knuckle ride to be sure. We pulled into the driveway about 4:00, the rain pounding, and the wind howling. As Brianne and sis unloaded the sheep I took care of the ducks. In less than 30-minutes they were settled into their new home on the kitchen floor, had clean dry bedding and fresh water and food. When I had a chance to really look them over I could tell they had grown in those few days and would out grow they’re storage bin brooder in no time.

When I had a chance I would look for larger accommodations, but for now it’s a shower and a hot meal.

Stay tune fore more of The Duck Diaries and watch my 12 little yellow puff balls grow by the day.


***the picture above was taken the morning after we picked up the ducklings.

Photo By: JMS

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