The Return of The Preacher
The title sounds like an old Clint Eastwood western, but it is an accurate title. Yesterday, while we were making soap, Eric noticed a lone black duck with a white band around his neck eating in the yard where I feed my geese. He could not believe his eyes and called me over to verify what he was seeing. What I saw was nothing short of a miracle. It was indeed a black drake with a prominent white ring around his neck. He was bigger than I remember, and he had a bit more iridescent plumage than I recall, but it was indeed a duck we had named Preach.
Last year, a month or so after Easter, this young black duck with a white ring around his neck appeared from nowhere. He was a funny duck and rather bold. He would walk into the barn and eat from the feeders and forage in the pasture close to the barn. He had no fear of humans, unlike the wild ducks that visit us every spring. We believe Preach was probably an Easter gift for a child, grew out of his cute duckling stage, and was considerately dropped off at our pond to live out the rest of his ducky days. The thing about ducks and our farm is that they simply don't live long. I have tried to raise ducks here since I was in college, and one by one, they always disappear.
You see, we have a beautiful fox family that lives in our woods near our smaller pond. In the late spring, early summer, it is common to see young kits learning to hunt frogs over by the pond or hanging out in the pasture field near the pond. There have been foxes here ever since I can remember. I admire them from afar, they pose no threat, and they are beautiful. We have shared our farm with them without incident...mostly. I have another story for you that involves The Bibbed Wonder. I will share it next week if I remember. However, I digress. The Bibbed Wonder blames the foxes for the disappearance of the ducks, but realistically it could be coyotes, raccoons, fishers, or weasels. We have a long list of predators that we have seen here over the years. Ducks just don't last long here on the farm.
Preach hung out with a few of our remaining domestic ducks for almost a year. However, one by one, the ducks began to disappear. Some wild woodland creature had discovered an easy meal ticket and was taking advantage of the situation. Sadly, we were down to just Preach. We had talked about trying to catch him and put him in at night but catching a duck on a large pond is next to impossible. We decided we would just have to allow nature to take its course and let the cards fall where they may regarding poor old Preach. By this time, the wild ducks had appeared, hanging out during the day and disappearing at night. They are usually with us until October and then disappear for the winter. We got up one morning to find Preach gone. We found nary a feather; he was just gone. We were a bit saddened by his disappearance and assumed demise, but it is how things go sometimes. Preach the abandoned duck became a distant memory.
That is until yesterday. We could not believe our eyes when we saw this familiar fellow eating where he had always eaten before. We walked out to get a better view, and rather than fly away in panic; he quacked at us as if to say, "Hey guys, long time no see." Unlike our white domesticated ducks, Preach can fly. This, I am sure, plays a strong role in his survival. We have far fewer predators now that The Bibbed Wonder has put an electric fence around the large pond. I feel like the geese and ducks are a bit safer through the night. Hopefully, Preach will hang out with a wild mate, build a nest, and hatch ducklings. It's the small things that give us a thrill these days. We consider the reappearance of Preach to be no less than a miracle. We are hopeful he will keep on doing whatever it is he does to ensure a long and healthy life. Welcome back, Preach.
As always, dear reader, stay safe, stay smart, look for small miracles, and keep washing your hands.