Friday, October 4, 2013

Tuppence's Tale, or Why You Should Name Your Animals with Care

We recently were given the chance to add two more Ancona ducks to our flock and, me being me, I simply couldn't resist. One of the new ladies is this gorgeously marked blue duck named Tuppence. My #1 daughter is currently reading through all of Agatha Christie's novels and thought it would be fun to name a duck after the character of Tuppence Beresford.

We should have known better.

Invariably, our animals have all exhibited the character traits of the people they are named after. Doofenshmirtz the Buff Orpington rooster? He's evil, all right.  Aragorn the Cream Legbar cockerel is definitely in charge while Faramir plays second fiddle.  Lita Ford the Easter Egger was unfortunately a one hit wonder much like her namesake; she is our one and only loss to a predator, cut off in her prime. Of course, there is the conspicuous exception of our Mini Lop rabbit, Snuggles - she's neurotic rather than cuddly - but for the most part, the rule has held true.

I always shut my birds up for the evening right at dusk, but last night I didn't go outside until it was already pitch black. Most of the ducks in my main duck pen had already put themselves to bed. I shone a flashlight around and under the house to make sure there weren't any stragglers and locked them in for the night.

Then I went to the pen where the two new ducks are currently living. Although I have no reason to suspect that they have any diseases, it is still good practice to keep them separate from the rest of the flock for a few weeks. I shone my light around the pen and quickly found Bluebell. Tuppence was no where to be seen.

I felt absolutely sick to my stomach. Had a predator somehow grabbed Tuppence and pulled her through the fence? Did a hawk make its way through the fishing line strung like netting over the pen? The Man of the House and I searched all around the pen's perimeter, looking for any gaps in the fencing. We even lifted the duck house off the ground in case she had somehow wedged herself underneath it.


The Man of the House and I looked at each other with perplexed expressions. (So I assume. It was too dark to see if his confusion matched mine.) Then he asked me if I had counted the ducks in the main duck house when I locked them in.

Well, no, I hadn't. We rushed over to the main pen and shone the flashlight through one of the ventilation windows. The ducks freaked out at the unexpected beam of light, but we were able to count nine ducks.

There were supposed to be eight ducks in that pen! And there was Tuppence smack dab in the middle of the frantic huddle. We had no earthly idea how Tuppence got into the pen, but we were just so thankful that she hadn't become a coyote's dinner that we didn't over think it. We put her back into the proper pen with Bluebell, said good-night, and locked them in.

The ingenious little Tuppence tried to play the same trick the next morning, but this time I was there to see it. She squashed her skinny little body through the tiny gap between the gate and the rest of the fence and decided to go check out the chickens' premises. Thankfully this happened while I was doing my morning bird chores so I was able to intercept her before Wile E. Coyote did.

We moved Tuppence and Bluebell into the pen we raise our youngest ducks in. The extra reinforcement seemed to do the trick... or so I thought. The very next morning I witnessed Tuppence fly six feet into the air, which is easily enough to clear the gate. Anconas are not supposed to fly like that and I've never had one get up more than three feet off the ground.

We've never had a duck do shenanigans like these before. But then again, we've never had a duck named after a very impulsive spy from a detective novel, either!

Take note, animal lovers: name your friends with care.

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