Thursday, March 15, 2012

The War on Women Moves into My Duck Yard: a Video Documentary

I must confess that I have lost my cool. Recently, my adrenalin has surged more than once as I have heard the deluge of news detailing exactly how old white men around the U.S intend to make my life more difficult. Apparently, some of their plans include legislation to interfere with my right to obtain contraception that will prevent me from producing hordes more male children with attentional problems, and other insulting things. I promise, though, that I won't go too far in this vein, since I have no intention of researching this post well enough to make a well-reasoned political argument, and I want all of the lovely Catholic women, who offer to pray for me, to continue reading my blog. We all know where I am headed with this, anyway.

I am going to talk about ducks.

While white men with power and influence are bossing women around all over the U.S., white ducks are doing the same thing in my back yard.

In case somehow you didn't already know, we have pet ducks–two males and two females. That is at least one male too many. Let me explain their living arrangements. They have a fenced area of my large back yard, which they have entirely purged of grass. There are two coops built back there, which were intended as ladies and gentlemen's quarters. They choose, however, to sleep in the same one, all together, every night. In the summer, we fill up two or three baby pools in our side yard for them to swim in (and drink from) which need to be replenished with fresh water every day. In winter, when we can't use our hose outlet, they get no ponds and we have to fill large thermoses from our sink and hang them on nails for them to drink. Ducks don't need to swim, they just like to. During this pond-free time, they grow to resemble waddling cotton balls that have been used to clean someone's butt.

We had to turn the water off in late October this fall, five months ago. So yesterday, I looked at my four white ducks, who have been happily sloshing around in puddles of their own feces for the last few weeks, since things have begun to thaw, and decided that they could really use baths. This was how Project Empower the Duck Hens got underway. It began innocuously enough. The hose which extends out to our side yard, where the ducks live, is currently frozen just under the surface of the ground so I had to lug around my good garden hose from out front and use it to fill their turtle sandbox pond.  Naturally, it got all covered with poo. (Duck husbandry is not the romantic avocation you have been led to believe.) Having done this, I decided to sprinkle my oldest duck a little. Usually ducks like this, but today, having seen no hose water since 2011, Aflac had forgotten what it was and decided it was probably battery acid. He ran away, quacking in terror. (I have written his very funny history elsewhere, and you should read it.)

The systematic oppression which I have intimated is going on this mating season is being perpetrated thus: In the video below, please meet Nibbles and Sweet Pea. Currently, Sweet Pea, who is the bustier, larger duck, is being confined to the "non-bedroom" coop by Q-Tip, one of our two male ducks. I believe this is a misguided attempt on his part to compel to produce ducklings, much as the GOP is apparently compelling women to bear young. (Whoops, sorry.) Sweet Pea is laying eggs, but she is doing it only at night, in a separate coop, so he has her sitting all day in a coop on some utterly imaginary eggs, and for this she is denied food and water and, today, a bath. Men.

Observing this situation, my eldest son and I started guarding the pond so the poor girls could take a bath. Here, poor little Nibbles, my runty female with a voice like a squeaky toy, is attempting to get clean when she is rudely chased away from the bath which these asshole males clearly believe is theirs.

Understandably, Sweet Pea was a little too scared to get in, even though Rowan was holding the males at bay. Finally, we got her into the pond (which I couldn't film because of the water and feathers flying everywhere), but the boys escaped and bullied her and her sister back out again.

At this point, we got fed up with the Patriarchy of the Pond. Here you see Rowan, removing the offenders and my youngest, attempting to restore justice to the world. (Note Rowan's coldly delivered scientific explanation of the natural scheme of things and Mikalh's deeply empathetic reaction to the situation. That's my kids, in a nutshell there, in case anyone cares.)

The result of this twenty-minutes-long line drawn in the sand was, basically, that the girls got to bathe at least long enough that they now resemble ducks and not pieces of wadded up cotton stuck to a tush. We couldn't really keep the boys at bay for any length of time. They were hellbent on making sure the girls could not have access to the water, the food or their freedom.

What instinct governs this behavior in male ducks, and male humans, is difficult to say. My assessment is that we must remain forever vigilant, protecting our sisters in their baths from the nefarious attentions of misogynist and power-hungry white drakes, who wish to stand on our backs and crush us, to prevent us from bathing or from leaving our coops.

It takes a village to protect the liberty of one waterfowl. We are all of us, sisters.

The Quackers: From back L:-Sweet Pea, Q-Tip, Aflac. R-Nibbles.

Weirdly, my mother has also written on this subject this week. Apparently my ducks inspire writers in much the same way that that the Madonna inspired painters of the Renaissance. They have their own genre.

The Collected Works of Duck (all on the subject of these particular ducks)

By me
Animal Lover Part II: The Empire Quacks Back
The story of why the Hell I have these pet ducks and how this proves I am crazy.

Why it's OK to kill your pet, as long as it's a duck.

Duck Rental
A business enterprise I am thinking of starting.

By my Mom
I Don't Get It
Humans have a tangled relationship with animals. (Reflections on why her daughter–me–killed the duck.)

Ducks are Not Nice People
Thoughts on why ducks are really not as you have been lead to believe.


  1. So, how did Q-Tip get his name?
    I kid, I kid.
    This is wonderful. Just ducky. Clearly the drakes are threatened by uppity ducks, having ruled the roost for so long.

    1. It is disappointing to reflect that equanimity between the sexes is not the rule in Nature.

    2. Well, we could be she-hamsters and just eat anyone who bothers us overly much.

    3. She-hamsters do this? I had she-hamsters and all they ate was hamster food and pieces of strawberry!

  2. I wonder how in a natural environment it differs. If there would be less males to females and if they would not be so controlled. Of course they would have to share the guys then. Guess all I can conclude is that I don't want to be a duck or treated like a domesticated one.(Not that being eaten by coyotes would be better mind you).

  3. Hilarious...and I'm with you on the angry feminist rant that I know I shouldn't write but still kinda want to.

  4. I could, but I have decided my husband can cover political rants for the two of us. I will stick to accounts of pet hoarding. :)

  5. I heard a quote once that said,'Motherhood is like being pecked to death by ducks.' This would go well with your analogy since I have six sons, and they regularly prevent me from bathing and getting food.

  6. As I commented elsewhere this week, working in a male-dominated environment, I am regularly treated to all sorts of gender-based stereotypes and shenanigans. I have made it my mission to at least attempt to re-educate every misguided dude that crosses my path. Now, I will do so while imagining all of them to be cranky and territorial ducks. Thanks.

    Let me just say that if you are not a nice old Catholic woman who has become very angry with me, but are instead a nice old Catholic woman who thinks the U.S. may have gone slightly off its rocker, you will want to read this link, which is non-waterfowl-related.

    My lady ducks are now penned in a nice private Shelter for Battered Ducks, away from their tormentors, who are currently haunting them through the cage wire, unable to stand on their backs and force their bills into the muck or chase them away from the food. Deprived of all girlie duck action, they appear perhaps chastened.

    I like to imagine of them as white Congressmen.


When you comment, it keeps fairies alive.

Don't forget to choose "subscribe by email" to receive follow-up comments. I almost always reply to comments, and you wouldn't want to miss that. It's all part of saving the fairies.

My Zimbio
Creative Commons License
Faith in Ambiguity by Tara Adams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License