Things got a little frenzied this afternoon. I popped down to the garage to check on the ducklings and mom and 4 of the youngsters were gone. The 2 youngest were snoozing in the nest under the heat lamp. I ran upstairs and looked out windows and saw nothing, so I grabbed my raincoat (why does craziness always happen in rotten weather?) and put on my mud boots and raced to the pond. There was mom, and the 4 ducklings on a slippery log in the middle of the pond. The 2 older ones seemed fine but the other 2 are only a couple days old and kept sliding off the log.
Now the other 4 adults had been on the bank but at that moment decided to go swimming. I have heard that adult males will attack and kill ducklings so I stuck around to watch and hoped that mom would soon herd her charges back to shore and into the garage. No such luck. Next thing I knew the big white male charges the log, attacks mom and everyone falls into the water. The ducklings scatter, then 3 form up on mom but the 4th swims towards me. Then the other male made a beeline for it and tried to drown it by slamming it into the water with its head. I yelled, grabbed a stick and threw it at the duck. The big 4 regroup and I madly dashed about the pond looking for sticks because there is never one right where you need it.) In the meantime Luna thinks I'm going to throw the sticks for her to fetch.
Now of course, it's raining harder. Mom duck and the kids head for the opposite shore and scramble onto it while I throw sticks to make the adults swim the other way. Then I run to the garage, get a pot and stuff some straw into it, grab the plastic rake and race to the far side of the pond, hoping to approach slowly and catch the ducklings. I think it would have worked if there hadn't been this stupid shrub in the way, entangling the rake tines. Mom and the kids panic and head back into the water and of course, head toward the wannabe baby-killers. More stick throwing and yelling ensues. Mom and the kids duck into the brambles on the side nearest the garage again, but this time at the steepest part of the pond. I can't tell at that distance if the littlest ones managed to climb up since they are as black as the mud. Only one thing to do now, get the dinghy.
First I run back around the pond and up to the house and ask Hal to come down to the garage and keep watch on the 2 youngsters because I figure that's when the baby-killers will show up to attack them, while I'm on the water. I manage to drag the dinghy from its winter location behind the house, on its side to squeeze between the SUV and the deck supports, then flip it onto its bottom and drag it to the pond. I've got the rake, the straw pot, the oars, and Luna whom I get inside after I get the thing in the water. Of course, I've put it in the water wrong end first and end up having to row frontwards (instead of backwards, if you ever row a dinghy, you'll know what I mean). But, I get over to the pond edge and can see mom duck and 3 of the babies. As I get closer they panic and run up the bank. I look everywhere for the fourth and finally find him shivering at the edge of the water. It is indeed too high to climb. Luna sees the duck and is VERY interested but like the good girl I have trained her to be does not pounce. Carefully she switches boat ends with me so now I'm sitting in water on the bottom but at the pointy end of the dinghy while she is at the back end wondering why I keep banging her with the oars.
I take the plastic rake and try to scoop up the duckling, several times. However, every time I get close enough and ship the oars, I float away. In the meantime while yelling to Hal, I learn the others are back at the garage and he herds them in and shuts the door. Finally, I grab a couple of raspberry bush branches and pull myself in far enough to grab the duckling and plop him into the straw pot. I then row back to the shallow end, hand Hal the duck-pot and manage to slide my wet butt and Luna out of the dinghy and drag it onto shore. At last I get to go inside, change clothes and warm up.
It is now a couple hours later and the ducklings are all fluffed out. I lowered the heat lamp 6 inches, fed mom some lettuce and added electrolytes to the duckling water. The 4 who had the adventure seem to be waddling about fine, the 2 youngest who slept through the whole drama, are still hanging under the lamp at the far end of the pen. For the time being, mom and ducklings are confined to the garage. No more running about. I'll put a shallow pan of water in there for mom to bathe. I can't afford to let her take the ducklings anywhere near the males, she is simply too small to defend them against those big bruisers. The ducklings may be in the garage until they get their feathers. That is more than 2 months from now.