Chronicles of Aye and Orrun
The Early Days:
Aye (Pronounced I-A) and Orrun (Pronounced O-roo) were our very first ducks. They were Cayuga ducks, hatched on June 29, 2015. And when we got a call from the post office on July 2, we piled into the car and drove.
At the post office, we picked up our ducklings. They were in a small box, with hay at the bottom and a cup of green Gro-Gel that had been picked clean. The box was also full of two days worth of poop. Needless to say, we discarded that box and had them in their nice, clean brooder as soon as we got home.
We decided on names in the car. We (jokingly ) figured that our mom wouldn’t eat ducks that were named in her native tongue. The names Aye and Orrun were decided on. Aye means earth in Yoruba, and Orrun means sun.
The ducklings were adorable. They were soft, covered in black, fluffy down. They had leathery black feet, tiny webs, small wings, and blunt bills. Nothing in the world is cuter than a duckling:
In those early days, when they had fluff instead of feathers, Aye and Orrun stayed in the basement, in a brooder box full of shavings. They would gobble down their food, and try to swim in their tiny water bowl! They made soft cheeps, and small peeps. Not a quack in sight.
My brother and I would take them for walks. No need for a leash; we quickly discovered that they would follow us! We would also fill up the sink for them to swim in, and watch gleefully as they dove and splashed and played. We would put food in the water for them to dabble at, like lettuce. Ducklings days were fun days.
As the ducklings aged, feathers grew in! I remember the first time I saw feathers among their soft down, some glints of green and purple among the black - long overdue! But as they got bigger, so did their poop, and my mom reluctantly (but sternly) ruled that they could no longer come upstairs. We played with them in the basement, the garage, outside. They had swims in the kiddie pool now; they had gotten too big for the sink. They had also gotten too big for their brooder. We decided to move them into the garage. We put down thin plastic sheets, placed baby gates around the plastic, piled the shavings high, plugged in the heat lamp, and gave them food and drink. They had much more space now than they did in their small Rubbermaid bin. They quacked to thank us.
While all of this was going on, we were as busy as bees, perfecting their outdoor pen. We put up the wood frame and the fencing, pieced together their duck house, and put mulch down (The mulch was a mistake, by the way). As soon as their pen was ready, we moved them into their new home, complete with food, water, and a warm duck house piled high with shavings. The picture below shows the very beginning of the construction, when we cut ground out of the hill and leveled it:
We enjoyed life with the ducks. They waddled around, eating who-knew-what in the grass. We filled their kiddie pool daily, and watched them almost constantly. Aye and Orrun weren’t big fans of being picked up, but as soon as you did, they would settle right down. There were many times when I had a duck on my lap for twenty minutes, or more. Whoever was in my lap would quack quietly to the other duck. I would pet whoever was with me, and they would nibble at my clothing. For some reason, their bills were always dirty, no matter how much they swam. I would come inside with dirt on my shirt and mud on my hands.
Aye and Orrun made it through the winter with no incidents, and life was good. But, in June of 2016, their lives took a dangerous turn.
One morning, we couldn’t find Aye. My mom woke me up at around 6:00, telling me that my poor little duck was nowhere to be found. This had happened before, so I wasn’t too suspicious - until I pulled on my coat, and boots, and went outside. Aye really was nowhere to be found. I checked all of their old haunts - under the pine trees, in the bushes, in the garden. She was nowhere. The next day, Orrun disappeared.
We looked all over for those ducks. Week after week, we asked around, called their names, walked in the woods in the hopes of catching a glint of purple on black. But we looked and worked and searched in vain. They were gone.
We’ve never found them. To this day, we still can only guess at what happened. There was no blood. We found only two or three feathers on the hill leading to the woods. To me, the ducks being attacked by something is the most probable explanation. To figure this out, we put bait in the duck pen, and put out a game camera. Sure enough, two huge raccoons showed up through a hole in the fencing, ate the bait, and snuck out again. We don’t know if they were the culprits; we will probably never know.
The ducks are gone, but they live on in our hearts and our minds; they live on in the feathers on my desk. We have learned to commemorate their lives, to remember them as they were and rejoice. I hope that their years on this Earth were good ones. They will always be missed, they will always be loved, and they will always be our ducks.
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