The Homestead Husband can't help himself when it comes to critters in need these days. When he found out that there was a local farm with a litter of thirty Muscovies that needed homes, he jumped on the opportunity and brought four more of them home.
We have the pond, we have the space. We are also not planning to keep every duck, because at the end of the day, the point was to provide better options for feeding our family.
Tiny peeps from the little ducklings went on all evening down in the brooder box (in the basement). We said goodnight to four, I repeat, four ducklings and went to bed.
The next morning, I went down to feed and water them, and could only find two. I rubbed my eyes, thinking I wasn't awake enough yet. My coffee was only a sip or two deep. They must be in there. The sides of the brooder are tall, and the top is covered with chicken wire, so they couldn't have escaped by themselves. I scooted shavings around, moved their tall waterer, and still nothing. I stood there a bit dumbfounded for a minute before calling the Homestead Husband to confirm what I believed to be a hallucination.
He too, could not see or find the two ducklings.
We spent twenty minutes searching the basement. They were nowhere to be found.
Now, we have had turkeys, chicks, and ducklings, numerous times, in the booder box. Not once have our cats shown any interest (Cocoa is too preoccupied with himself, and Whiskey is claw-less and harmless), and they are an entire floor away from our dogs who wouldn't be able to reach them in the first place.
Fear started creeping in... How did this happen? Where did they go? They aren't big enough to fly... They don't even have fully grown wings! Did a rat get in and nab them? There was no sign of struggle. The dogs would have known and alerted us. We didn't hear a bump in the night... Did someone break in and steal them? Why only two? Our minds were spinning.... It's amazing what crazy thoughts your brain can have in a panic - some explanations that were completely irrational. One concept even included a snake!
We had to leave for work, as time was ticking on, but we both left with very worriesome hearts. What happened in the night to these poor ducks?
Eight hours later, the Homestead Husband arrived home. He entered the house with plans to go on a minature duck hunt hoping to find them, or at least their potential remains... As he looked toward the great room, the silouette of a single, tiny, fuzzy, duckling sat in front of the glass slider - placed just so, that the dogs were absolutely tormented for God only knows how long... Shocked and elated, he scooped up the lost baby, only to turn around and see another one wattling through the kitchen!
He brought both back down to the brooder, thinking that the mystery had been solved, but then discovered that the other two were missing now as well! Luckily, this time there was some scuffling sounds, and in another far off corner, under a pair of rubber boots, inside a cardboard box, the other two baby ducks were nuzzled in together for what appeared to be safe keeping. Phew.
There is never a day that goes by, that is boring around these parts, or when keeping critters in general. We may never know for sure who the culprit was, but if I had to guess Whiskey's content purring seemed to be a good indicator. I think he found them just as sweet and adorable as we do, and decided they might make good playmates.
Lesson learned - don't panic - things may not always be as bad as they seem.