The tapping of little flappy feet has been my daily soundtrack for the past few weeks since my Call ducklings arrived and it makes me very happy.
In my book, there is not much that’s cuter than a baby duck. Puppies, sure, they’re adorable. Kittens, yeah. But the tiny black eyes, the soft, soft down, the itty-bitty webbed toes, the raspy peeping when I leave the room: they pluck my heart like a miniature, ducky harp. Not even chicks are cuter and they’re really cute.
I’ve wanted to get Call ducks for a while now because they are, by all accounts, the cutest ducks in the world. They’re dwarf ducks, so they end up being smaller than a football. I’m training these 10-day-old ducklings to come to my call — plus a mealworm treat — and it’s working splendidly. I call Duckeeeee! and if they come, they get mealworms in their waterer.
I’m not taking any chances this time.
About three years ago, I had some Calls, but only for a few hours. I brought the six-week-old babies home one hot July Saturday and set them up in a pen I’d constructed outside. I sat in there with them, starting the process of getting them used to me. But then I got hungry.
Assuring them I’d be back soon, I went inside to get some lunch. I was gone no longer than 20 minutes. When I got back to the pen … no ducklings. Panicked, I ran through the woods and across the yard, scanning the ground for movement. I caught a glimpse of them hightailing it around the corner to the country road we live on.
I hoofed it after them, Mark in hot pursuit, and he said he had seen them take a hard left into the tall grass by the side of the road. I dived into the grass, which was waist high, and started searching. No ducklings. I sprinted back home and got on long pants and a long-sleeved shirt and galoshes and raced back to where we thought they had disappeared. Nothing.
For the next four hours, crying, keening and calling out to the ducks as late-afternoon thunder and lightning got closer and closer, I went over the grass and the ditch next to the grass what felt like inch by inch. I expanded my search until it seemed a little crazy, but no ducklings.
I never found those babies.
It took me three years to get up the nerve to get more ducklings. Oh, I did rescue some adult Pekin ducks (who were eventually eaten by the local fox), but I never saw them as babies.
These ducklings are almost too cute. I can’t actually internalize their beauty all the way; it feels like there’s a cuteness filter inside me that won’t let me fully fall into their adorableness. Why? I dunno — maybe too many cute Corgi/goat/animals on trampolines YouTube videos. Maybe there’s a lifetime limit on how much cuteness a person can take and I’ve exceeded it.
Or maybe I’m afraid.
I told Mark today that I wanted to take them outside into the dog yard, but that I was worried that they could fit through the fence. He said, “No way — remember what happened last time.”
Yeah, I’m afraid alright, afraid I’ll lose more babies. So in their plastic Rubbermaid container they’ll stay, napping and squidging through their waterer. For now, anyway.