The Sweetest Video

Day 6 of 21

One more day until I can candle Ruby’s eggs! She is doing well. She had a lot of scrambled eggs today, so that was great for her. I accidentally sat a carton of eggs I had just packed up down on a low table and ran to help my kiddo who had a bloody nose. When I got back, Bairre had taken the carton of eggs off the table, dumped them, and was eating what he could. I managed to scoop up almost everything that was left and save those eggs for the chickens.

I don’t know if I will candle Ruby’s eggs tomorrow or Monday–maybe Monday. When I do, I will be sure to make a video.

And, speaking of videos, I accidentally took the sweetest little video ever. Ron was getting soil ready for planting potatoes, and the ducks were helping. In particular, our duck, Anna Sophia, was helping. She’s the duck who lived in our house for several months and fell in love with the cello. She’s been hanging out with us extra this spring, and it has been a joy.

I went outside to video her, and I am convinced I accidentally captured a tiny moment of the magic of this place on video. I hope this makes you smile.

An Owl Story

Just the other day, my son and I were having a conversation about animals, and he asked me what my favorite animal was. I explained that I could not choose–dogs, cats, chickens, donkeys, elephants, squirrels, Eastern Phoebes…How can one choose a favorite animals?

“My favorite is the owl,” he said.

“Oh, that’s a cool favorite,” and I added that owls, though magnificent, are scary to me because I am a chicken and duck mama. I told him about the video I saw of what an owl does to a duck and that I was kind of scarred for life from it.

He understood, but we both agreed that an owl has to eat too and that they are, indeed, magnificent animals.

Two nights later, I would have a close encounter with an owl that I just have to write about.

It started with a perfect storm of circumstances, as these stories always seem to do. I was really hungry, and it was late. I decided to go ahead and eat dinner quickly before putting up the ducks, which now includes an Anna Maria rodeo because she doesn’t like sleeping in the bathroom.

Of course, there is no choice, so I rodeo every night. She complains and fights me. I tell her this is for her own good. She doesn’t believe me. I give her peas, put her in her nest. That’s what we do every night now. Then, I work to get the rest of the ducks put up. They love to party late during the summer, so it’s all a bit of a chore.

Anyway, it was getting pretty dark by the time I finished dinner. On top of this, Bairre was in a mood because he didn’t get to have for dinner what we had for dinner, so he was doing his “thing” when he’s being difficult and doesn’t touch the ducks because he’s not supposed to but gets really close to them to make them upset. The ducks are just fine when Boudica is near them, but Bairre cannot yet be trusted. I don’t blame them. He’s such a puppy still, and his track record is sketchy.

I managed, despite Bairre causing his chaos, to get Anna Maria caught and put up. By the time I headed back outside, the ducks were acting really strange. I thought maybe it was just Bairre, but it seems a little extra. I was making my way around to the corner to go see what was going on when I heard the owl–and it was in the tree right above my head!

I was panicked. It made some sounds that did not sound good for my ducks. For a second, I just froze, trying to calculate how quickly I might be able to get to the ducks. Thanks to Bairre, they were out in the middle of the yard. Usually, when it gets even close to dark, they will stay under the deck or near the house. But they were out there in the wide open, and an owl was on it.

I began hollering for Ron or our son for help, but I was pretty sure they weren’t coming. Ron was in the basement, and our son, who was outside, was wearing his AirPods. He always has those things in his ears. He listens to music every second he’s awake if he can, and it gets a little old when I’m trying to get his attention and have to hunt him down. Anyway, I was cursing those AirPods.

I heard the owl make a wild sounding call again right as it flew out of the tree. It was right over my head and going right toward the ducks. In hindsight, it was magnificent to see–those wings right over my head. There was a small amount of light left in the sky, just enough to for me to see the silhouette and some under-feather patterns. My goodness! It was beautiful. Its wingspan was about three feet. I think it was a Barred owl, but I definitely didn’t hear “Who cooks for you?”

The only thing I knew to do, as I could see it was going to be on the ducks in one second and it would probably take me at least 10 seconds to get there, was throw my hands in the air and scream, “NOOOOOOO!”

Just as it made a swoop to the ground, Bairre came bounding around, clueless to the owl but aware enough to see that something was wrong because of the way I acting. Either his presence or mine was enough to make the owl move on. A sense of such relief fell over me.

I started hollering again for Ron, and he finally heard me and came outside to get Bairre, as Bairre clearly had to be put in the house and I clearly couldn’t leave the ducks alone.

Ron got Bairre put up, and I got the ducks put up (they went up super fast, no partying). All was well.

But I was thinking, “there is surely never a dull moment around here, is there?”

photo credit: Sonder Quest, Unsplash

Anna Maria was waiting for us.

Day 345 of 365

It has been a long day, but I have good news: Day 1 of the Anna Maria plan was a success! This morning, I put Antonio in the fenced area and let Anna Maria stay with the other females. They weren’t like super excited to see Anna Maria, but they gave her no trouble. And a few did get close to her sometimes.

Still, Anna Maria was largely alone for most of the morning, and since Antonio was behaving very well in the fenced area, I decided to let him out in the late afternoon. I just stayed with the ducks for a long time to make sure everything was okay.

Everything was really okay! Antonio had forgotten about Anna Maria and really just wanted to roam the duck area again. My plan worked! I do think his hormones may have settled down a bit too, so that was another reason I decided to take a chance.

Anna Maria was safe all day. I was so thankful. Sadly, however, she was also still alone most of the day. She has never fully fit in with the flock, but it seems to be a little worse this year–not just since the incident but really all year. I don’t know if it is because she’s mostly blind or if something else is going on.

But I checked on her and talked to her about a thousand times today. She definitely never runs from me now, which is so cool. The coolest thing happened tonight though. When it was about bedtime for ducks, Ron and I went outside to get Anna Maria, and we found her waiting by the gate where she has been every night since we moved her outside. The rest of the ducks were at the back door. Anna Maria used to wait at the back door. Tonight, she was waiting where we have been scooping her up at night. It was like she was ready to come in!

It was easy to scoop her up. She didn’t run from us at all. Ron showed me the way she likes to be held, so I turned her to situate her on my chest with her head looking over my shoulder. I still didn’t get it just right, but I let her situate herself how she wanted. Once she had her chest against my chest, she seemed to just calm down. I could feel her heartbeat in my chest, and it was not beating super quickly, which I figured was a really good sign that she wasn’t panicking about being held.

I also realized that she could feel my heartbeat. I told Ron that I have had sick chickens and baby chicks also situate themselves on my chest, right over my heart, like the heartbeat relaxes them. Isn’t that cool? I wonder why that is.

This reminds me of the time I had to hold the baby chicks against my chest in my robe. I will have to tell that story soon. Those babies sang to me!

Anyway, Ron told me tonight he has also heard Anna Maria’s tic in the duck house at night and wondered what he was hearing. Now that we know, Ron agrees that Anna Maria is sleeping with us at night for the rest of her life. I am glad we agree on this.

The Anna Maria Plan

Day 343 of 365

It has been 10 days since Anna Maria was injured and had to be removed from her flock. Because she is so fragile, Ron and I have been back and forth about what to do about her.

For 6 days, she was in the house full time. I hung out with her every day for hours, playing music for her. It was fascinating to see not only what she responded to but also how she responded. I learned in the last 10 days that Anna Maria has a nervous “tic” of sorts. I am happy to report that, over time, I saw less and less of it, but music helped the most. When she liked something, the tic was gone. In addition to cello music (Bach is a favorite for sure), there were some country music songs she liked. She did not approve of Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark or Don Henley’s Boys of Summer. She did very much like Maria by Brooks and Dunn. I played it for her because of her name because, a couple of years ago, she learned her name.

Not all of our chickens and ducks learn their names, but some definitely do–like Mary Jane and Rooster. I try to say everyone’s names when I say hello to them in order to see if they eventually learn their names, but I do not spend a ton of time with the chickens and ducks each day (mostly just food and water and treats and egg collecting). I guess the exception is Ruby because, she’s always everywhere. I assume it would take a lot of interaction for the chickens and ducks to quickly learn their names, so it usually takes awhile for anybody to learn.

Still, there is another characteristic of a chicken or a duck who learns their name: It’s that they are curious enough to pay attention to me. For some, I am food, water, and security, but some are pretty curious about me. The fact that Anna Maria learned her name makes me think she has maybe been paying a lot more attention to me than I had thought over the years.

Anyway, I am getting way off track, but maybe it’s important to share those details to see how much I have come to adore Anna Maria extra over the past week and a half.

Ron put some extra fencing around a fenced area at the back of our property, so Anna Maria could go outside during the day. Four days ago, we started taking her outside in the mornings. She is fenced from the rest of the flock but can at least be outside during the day. She seemed so very happy to get back outside. She loves digging her bill into the dirt and hunting around the fence edge for insects. Anna Maria’s joy at being outside made it clear she would not he happy being an inside duck.

So we thought about trying to buy a single female duck to be her companion. Ron would have to build a small duck house for them, and it would mean an additional job in the winter having to shovel snow out of a third area. Ron and I both feel stretched fairly thin most days. We talked and talked, trying to figure out if we could handle more work. Plus, runner ducks live long lives if all goes well. Apparently, they can live 10 to 15 years. Getting a young duck would mean starting that clock over, and while we plan to keep chickens into our old age, the ducks are harder work.

Then, we talked about finding a home for Antonio, which led us to realize that would never happen. People just don’t want an older male duck. Plus, he’s definitely been more aggressive with his mating in the last 2 years. You can’t really give away a duck that might lead to problems for other people. We wondered if we should consider culling him because of his aggression, but we have a hope that this will settle down. He’s getting old enough that his hormones should start to slow a little. We’ll see, but we decided we can’t really choose Anna Maria over Antonio. We just can’t. We love them both, though Anna Maria is definitely the favorite for both of us.

It seems there are no simple solutions, but I think I have an idea that can work. Ron is on board to try, so we are going to try in the morning. The Anna Maria plan is to put Antonio in the smaller fenced area tomorrow and let Anna Maria be with the girls for a few hours. Then, we can let Antonio out and see how he does. We will have to watch closely the whole time. If all goes well, we can try to let them all stay together during the day, but we have decided that, to be safe, for the rest of her life (well, at least as long as Antonio is around), Anna Maria is going to sleep in the house. I think Antonio might get a little aggressive in the duck house.

The first day Anna Maria was in the house with us, I saw her making her nervous tic in the bathtub. She was in the corner and she would move her bill back and forth, over and over and over a million times, each time tapping one side of the bathtub and then the other. It was a constant “thump, thump, thump, thump.” I realized then where I had heard that sound before. There have been times at night when I have been outside near the duck house, and I heard this “thump, thump, thump, thump.” I wondered what in the world this could be. I realized this must have been Anna Maria, and I am heartbroken. That poor girl is nervous out there too–at least at night.

But Anna Maria has good days the flock, so we are going to try her out and see how she does. The plan is to put Antonio up any time he is aggressive and for a few weeks at the first of spring and first of fall, when his hormones really seem to get him wound up. Then, of course, we will bring Anna Maria into the house at night. Hopefully, this will work. Hopefully, Anna Maria is okay. She hasn’t laid an egg in 4 days. It’s a little bit of a concern.

Hopefully, all goes well tomorrow.

A duck, a cello, and a very proud dad…

Day 341 of 365

Two days ago, we started putting Anna Maria into a separate fenced area, so she didn’t have to stay in the bathroom all day while she recovers from her injury.. She’s doing pretty well, though I know she wants to be back with her people. She is healing well, but is still separated from the flock.

I miss hanging out with her and listening to music with her. I loved seeing which music she liked. I could tell by her body language. In our time together, I have learned that Anna Maria makes a nervous back and forth movement when she is feeling anxious, but certain music makes her relax and listen.

Tonight, Ron was bringing Anna Maria into the house to sleep in the bathroom since she can’t sleep in the duck house. He said she was so scared being held that she was just trembling, but when Ron walked by the music room where our son was practicing his cello, he said Anna Maria stopped trembling and noticeably relaxed in his arms.

When my son was finished with the piece he was practicing, we asked him to play it again for Anna Maria. He said he was going to play something better for her. He played Bach’s Prelude to Cello Suite No. 1. This piece has a special place in all of our hearts because our son wanted to learn it so badly when he was little. When his teacher taught him how to play the whole thing, it was such a joy for all of us. And it’s a piece that remains a favorite for our son. He revisits old music fairly often, but the one piece he revisits most of all is this Prelude.

In fact, I have a series of videos of him playing it at different stages over the last few years. I think the first one was when he was 11. I said I was going to keep recording this piece his whole life to show his progress as a cellist, so every now and then, I get one on video. I haven’t recorded one in awhile, so tonight was perfect.

Anyway, I am so glad to share this video. It’s like my whole heart is in it–my son playing his cello, that beautiful duck, and Ron, holding that duck so she can listen to the music, and then that proud nod to our son at the end. Also, about mid-way through the video, you hear this scratching and sliding down the wall, that’s our cat, Betty, just being Betty. She was attacking the walls in the music room. She’s our wild child. Somehow, hearing Betty’s rowdiness just makes me love this video even more.

A Rare Moment with Anna Maria

Day 330 of 365

If you follow the blog, you know about Anna Maria and how she doesn’t trust me after I rehabilitated her in 2019. She just never forgave me for all the medicine and health inspections. Tragically, it was kind of like I was a part of her trauma, though I was healing her and trying to be so good to her. It’s just a hard thing for a skittish duck to go through. Poor, sweet girl. You may also know that she is going blind, most likely as a result of her injuries when she was young.

I just attributed her strange behavior lately to her going blind. I am not so sure now.

Lately, Anna Maria has been getting closer to me. Not only does she not run from me very much anymore, but she also, sometimes, seems like she wants to get closer to me. I would freeze when this would happen, confused, and it was like she was thinking about coming up to me but just couldn’t do it. This seemed very strange to me. She usually wants nothing to do with me unless I have lettuce–and even then I just better hand over the lettuce and not speak about or make any sudden moves.

Tonight was a miracle! She came to me and stood at my feet, and when I reached to touch her, she stayed. So I picked her up! I had to make sure she wasn’t injured, but mostly it just felt like magic holding that wild, skittish, magnificent creature. It was like a wild animal gracing me with her presence.

She’s so, so beautiful! Those chocolate and white feathers are amazing!

When I got over my awe of her, I realized I had better health check her. She has NEVER had a single one since 2019. I couldn’t come near her without her running away, terrified, like I was a monster for sure. It’s always been kind of heartbreaking to me, but I have learned to love her on her terms and not mine. So this was the first time since 2019 I have touched her more than sneaking some light feet and feather touches this winter to see how blind she is.

I didn’t find anything wrong. Her feet felt fine. Her abdomen didn’t seem swollen. Her eyes looked good. I don’t know what happened tonight, but for a minute, I held a magical creature. I sure hope she’s okay.

When I sat her down, she ran toward the duck house but not as quickly as I thought she might. When the mud is gone, I am going to go sit in the grass and see if she will come see me and sit on me like the other ducks will in the summer. She never has. Wouldn’t it be the best ever if she did?

The First Duck Egg

Day 318 of 365

It was as if the ducks gave me a present this morning after all that trouble last night. Today, we got the first duck egg of the season, and I am over the moon!

I have been keeping track of when the ducks begin and end laying each season because I am very interested in how long our ducks will lay eggs. I have not encountered many people who have kept Indian Runner ducks for more than a few years, so I am anxious to see how things go with our ducks. I did hear from one person online who said he had an Indian Runner duck who was laying until she was about 8 years old. Our ducks are 5 now.

Two years ago, we got the first duck egg on March 17. Last year, it was March 21. This year, we got the 23rd. They are pretty consistent. I will be so interested in seeing how they do this year. I noticed a decline in number of eggs per day last year, but it wasn’t much of a decline.

And, of course, we will keep all of them for the rest of their lives (some make it to 12 to 15 years, I read), whether they lay eggs or not.but I also really love duck eggs. So I’m always super happy to get them!

If you have not tried ducks eggs, I highly recommend them.

A Duck Tale

Day 317 of 365

I took this picture of the ducks after the wind blew the water bucker. The ducks are in the background, looking very concerned.

Tonight, when I went to give the ducks their bedtime peas and tuck them in for the night, there was a duck missing. It was Anna Maria! Since she is at least partially blind and possibly quite blind, I was really worried about this.

Thankfully, I found her by her voice, but she was stuck–or at least she thought she was stuck–under the deck. She was trying to get to her people in the straightest line she could, but there was a garden fence in the way. She couldn’t seem to understand she had to go around the way she came. She was just following the voices of her people.

I have no idea how she got separated, but I have noticed the ducks will start to go their separate ways for a bit in the spring. All winter, they move as one almost all day long. But the snow is melting, and there is much to explore. They get busy and get separated. Every now and then, they will call each other back together. It’s very cool!

I guess, tonight, Anna Maria didn’t hear the call until everyone else had gone around to the other side. I tried everything I could to get her to go back the way she came. I thought she would be so afraid of my touch that she would run when I touched her, but she just let me touch her. Clearly, she had bigger worries about getting to her people.

I tried the flashlight, but that didn’t make her run either. She was stuck and determined to stay stuck. Poor girl.

Then, I got wise and thought like a duck. I realized I needed to herd her people back around to the deck, so she could follow their voices out in the proper direction. This was going to cost me though. To herd the ducks that far at night would not be easy. It’s out of the ordinary, and out of the ordinary is always stressful. Always. They make no exceptions.

I hate to stress those ducks because maintaining their trust all the time is not easy. They are very skeptical. But I didn’t see any other way to get Anna Maria out besides crawling under the deck–in the mud–so I was like, “Ducks, we’re going around!”

They were resistant for some times, but I finally pushed them with my presence enough (that I learned from thinking like a dog), and Anna Maria came to their quacking and was finally free.

Then, here’s the best part. After all of that drama, I knew the ducks wouldn’t eat their peas. So I had to come back in the house after everything and sit and wait about five minutes before I went out with the peas to tuck them in. I have learned they need a re-set. Then, if you go back to the routine, all will be well.

So I came in the house and told Ron and our son the story and waited. I then took the peas back outside and said my exact words I say every night–“Duck, ducks! It’s your peas!”

This time, seven sweet little ducks came for their peas.

Trauma, Ducks, and Life Lessons

Day 301 of 365

I finally admitted to myself recently that our sweet little duck, Anna Maria, is at least fairly blind, possibly quite blind. It breaks my heart to see this sweet duck struggling some.

We adopted Anna Maria in 2019 and rehabilitated her after she had been over-mated at another farm where they had too many males in a straight run. Anna Maria had a tough time, but she made an amazing recovery and lives a very spoiled duck life now. But we noticed this summer that it seemed like she couldn’t see the wheat bread we often feed the ducks as a snack. It’s whole grain, and they love it. Anna Maria loved it the most. Just last year, she would quack and quack at Ron to get him to bring her treats. He always did.

But, in the fall, we kept testing and testing and putting the bread right in front of her, and it seemed like it was only with luck that she found a bite. She just seemed like she couldn’t see it.

Then, this winter, I noticed she was having trouble seeing the bowl of peas every night at bedtime. I had to start moving the bowl to her, as she struggled to come to the bowl. This was a worry.

I told Ron that maybe her sight wasn’t that bad though. “I haven’t seen her walk into a door or anything,” I said.

Last week, I saw the poor girl walk into the duck house door.

It makes me feel so badly for her that, after all she has gone through, that she has to deal with blindness in her life. Thankfully, she seems to handle it well. She is a part of the collective that is made up of our seven Indian Runner Ducks. They moved together as one most of the time, so she can just stick with them. Still, you worry.

I am going to post this week to a good Maine poultry group and ask if anyone has an advice for making sure life is good for a blind duck. I want to do everything we can for her.

I told Ron one of the most profound things about all of it for me is that poor Anna Maria has to continue to suffer the consequences of her trauma, even so many years later. I researched, and her blindness is most likely connected to her over-mating experience when she was young because over-mating in ducks damages the sinuses and the optic nerves.

“Isn’t that just the way of it?” I asked him. “Trauma impacts us all of our lives.”

He nodded in sadness.

The only upside is this: Because I didn’t raise her as a baby and because I had to doctor her far more than she wanted when she was healing, she has always acted afraid of me, though I tried and tried to make her trust me. She became pretty good friends with Ron, but I could never be trusted. I could never pet her like I could the other ducks, and it made me sad.

But since she can’t see very well, at night, when the ducks are busy eating peas, I carefully give her a pet or two.

She’s magnificent.

Anna Maria

Day 197 of 365

Today, I was giving the heels from Ron’s homemade bread to the ducks. It’s true that you don’t want to feed ducks too much bread, but this is whole grain bread. I have seen it help heal an injured duck who wouldn’t eat anything else, so I keep giving them whole grain bread as a snack sometimes. Plus, they love it.

I have noticed, however, that one of our ducks seems to have vision issues, and this breaks my heart. It’s Anna Maria, and she has a very special story. I have been meaning to write it for some time. Today, after watching her struggle, I decided to tell her story.

I met Anna Maria shortly after my Poe died. A farmer friend had a female duck who had been over-mated pretty badly. The duck had nearly died, but they were able to save her. When my farmer friend asked me about rehabilitating the duck, she told me the duck was set to be picked up by someone who culls. If I thought she was too much for me, I could pass.

Culling is a reality for badly injured animals. It’s better than suffering. One time, my Broody Hen was so sick, I thought we might have to cull her. Ron had taken our son to orchestra, and her little head was so swollen. I was Googling the most humane way to cull a chicken. Sever the spinal cord. Quickly. I read about the broomstick method. I decided to give her just one more round of meds and a few more hours. The swelling went down a little, and Broody Hen would live three more years. I tell that story just to say that I have no judgment for my farmer friend considering culling. It’s a reality of farming.

My friend told me the duck’s name was Anna Maria, and before I even met her, I wanted to save her. It felt like it was meant to be. I had just rehabilitated one of our ducks who broke her leg on the ice–Anna Sophia.

But then I met Anna Maria. She looked terrible. She had no feathers on her neck, and her skin was rough, kind of scaly. Her skull had been showing before I met her, but her skin had grown back over her skull by the time I saw her–but just barely. Her skin on her skull was so tight that her eyes were pulled back. She had a sinus infection and bubbly eyes.

I was a little scared. I didn’t know if I could handle it, but when I reached down to talk her her, she just came to me. This is HUGE for a duck, especially an Indian Runner duck. They are skittish ducks. But she just came to me, and then I held her the whole time I was at my friend’s farm. She just leaned into me, so calmly. She let me pet her little scaly head. I couldn’t believe it. It was like some kind of miracle. It was like she knew I was there to save her. What could I do but try? It was like something out of a movie.

Little did I know Anna Maria was setting me up. Of course, I am so glad she did, but the first few weeks Anna Maria came home with me, I was exhausted. Her sinus infection had to be treated. She needed medicine. She also needed soaks to help her skin. And she wouldn’t eat the things our other ducks loved. She was wild, out of control. I could calm her down with classical music but not like with our other ducks. The music just kind of took the edge off. And, oh my goodness, her edge was sharp. She attacked me. She bit me–a lot. I was covered in bruises. And she would run from me when it was time for medicine or soaks. I had to dive to catch her. I was middle aged. It was not easy.

But, somehow, over time, she started to heal. Her eyes were no longer tight, but it would be months before she was strong enough to be put with our flock. Our male duck would try to mate with her, and she had to be strong enough to handle it. Ron built her a little shed and a fenced area next to our ducks. Every day, during the day, she could hang out with them through the fence, but she was protected from our male, Antonio.

One of the things that I noticed about Anna Maria during that time was that she didn’t get into the little duck pool I had for her. Our ducks love the water, so it was confusing to me that she didn’t want to get into the water, but she didn’t. How was that possible for a duck?

One day, I decided to start putting one or two of our females in the fenced area with Anna Maria, so she could start to make friends and not be so lonely. I saw her watching as the other ducks would get into the pool and splash around, but she never got in.

And, then one afternoon, the sun was setting and I looked out the back window just in time to see Anna Maria get into the pool all by herself. I watched in awe as she splashed and splashed. Ducks make a move in the water where they put their heads in and then raise up, and the water runs down their backs. As Anna Maria made these moves, I watched the water droplets glisten in the sunlight. They looked golden, and Anna Maria looked magical. She had healed. It was breathtaking watching her enjoy herself for the first time I had ever seen, maybe the first time in her whole life.

Fairly soon, she was able to move in with the rest of the flock. It was stressful at first, but she handled being mated. And, since we have just one male for six ducks, he moved on. She was in the flock, in the club, and she had good home where she had lots of space, a kiddie pool, and peas every night before bed. Oh, and whole grain bread snacks.

Anna Maria is now the favorite duck. Ron adores her, and she loves Ron. She will come running when he calls for her and quack and quack while she talks with him. She still holds a bit of a grudge against me for all that medicine, but it’s not too bad. She will come to me for treats and knows how to tell me what she wants.

I learned a tremendous life lesson from that duck. I learned about loving others on their own terms, not mine. It was a lesson I was going to need very soon as a mother. I like to think that Anna Maria came into my life to teach me that lesson. Hopefully, I have been as good for her as she has been for me.

I am heartbroken that she is having such terrible vision issues. Ron and I started to suspect she wasn’t able to see very well this summer, but today, when I threw the bread snacks right in front of her, she couldn’t find them. In about 20 pieces of bread I threw at her feet, she got one. I just wanted to hug her. Of course, she would hate that.

I looked it up today, and apparently over mating can lead to vision issues. I couldn’t find anything related to long-term vision issues and blindness, but it makes sense that the damage could cause problems later in life. She does well getting around and knows where the peas are. Hopefully, that beautiful duck who has been through so much, even if blind, can have a long, wonderful life.