Duck, Duck, Ivy
Chocolate Box Cottage Diary Vol. 1
Week 33: August 21, 2021
It has been a unique week at Chocolate Box Cottage!
Shall we start with ducks? Yes, let’s. My friend, Sarah, gave me an amazing gift: four beautiful Silver and Chocolate Muscovies; one drake and three hens. Plus a little chick that thinks it’s a duck.
I named mama duck Opal and once she goes through a molt and her beautiful, pristine feathers come in, I think the name will suit her quite well.
Opal lost a clutch of eggs the night before they were due to hatch to a predator. She was so set on being a mother that she adopted a nest of chicken eggs and hatched them! This little one is the only surviving member of the hatch and they are devoted to each other. It is sweet to see the tiny chick trailing after the duck.
The fenced hen yard at Chocolate Box Cottage includes a marsh. Long willow branches trail into the water and wild blackberries and cattails encroach on the edges, blurring the distinction between slurpy mud and dry land. Pretty and pleasant in the sunshine; at night it is a different world. The place exudes a rich odor of muck.
The first two nights, the ducks dutifully trooped into the henhouse as dusk, waddling up the ramp through the narrow door to comfortable quarters shared with about a dozen chickens and five Indian runner ducks.
I have a habit of shining a flashlight in through the small bird door into the henhouse, just to check that everyone is inside, safe and sound. The third night, I saw Opal and her little chick, but the other Muscovies were missing.
I went back for taller boots. I returned with boots and husband, and we waded out into the marsh in the black of night made murkier by thick smoke from a wildfire miles away. We soon spotted the ducks, just out of reach in the marsh. If we could oh-so-quietly loop around them, the ducks would hop onto dry land where we could shepherd them into the henhouse.
So I picked my way through the marsh, using tree roots and a few exposed rocks as stepping stones. It was tough going and slow. And then willow branches grabbed my hair, throwing me off balance. I heard and felt a loud SLURRRRP as the mud sucked one of my boots off and the other filled with dank green water, startling an opossum, who obviously planned a duck dinner, perhaps with his sweetheart by the light of the moon.
Muscovies are silent birds, they do not quack like other ducks. There was an uproar of wings and a disappointed opossum scurried off, leaving fluffs of floating feathers in his wake. We were no closer to looping around the ducks, in fact, my acrobatics had pushed them further into deeper water. They were now inaccessible to us.
We did the only thing we could do. We gave up and we prayed.
“Lord, protect the ducks overnight. Send the opossum far away, please!”
And then we went back to the house, emptied our boots, and went to bed.
Thankfully, God protected the ducks overnight.
In the Garden ~
Meanwhile, the garden continues to prosper. Basil and raspberries were harvested. Eighteen quarter-pint jars of Basil & Parsley Pesto were deposited in the freezer. The raspberries were a wonderful treat, eaten immediately!
Garlic has been cured and cleaned and is ready to store. Tomatoes are trickling into the kitchen.
My good friend Lena operates a booth called The Prairie Girls at the Main Antique Mall in Medford, Oregon. (W4N and W4P if you’re in town). She kindly brought some handcrafted items by for me to shop through when she was changing out her inventory for the season. I kept the chair and lemon yellow bedspread in the right front corner. And the strawberry apron, which is darling!
This was hard to do! Painful, but Swedish ivy require occasional “haircuts” if they are to remain full and lush. I neglected to pinch it back as I should have, so it had become a little leggy. Don’t worry – I saved some good-looking stems to start a new plant.
Note: This post was hanging out in my ‘Drafts’ folder since August, somehow I forgot to press publish. So I’m publishing now, 5 months overdue.