Sad but interesting story

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by sianara, Aug 26, 2010.

  1. sianara

    sianara Songster

    Apr 27, 2007
    Central MA
    Yesterday morning I had seven large ducks. There were three 7 year old Golden 300 hybrid hens (Emmaline, Gabby & Victoria) and two 4 month old cayugas (1 named Toughie, the other still unnamed), a welsh harlequin (unnamed) & a chocolate runner (named Lady Godiva, what else?). They have been integrated for 3 months now but the two groups still avoided each other like the plague. If one group would walk up the hill the other group would flee with much quacking, flapping and squawking. OMG!!! THE QUACKING!!! Last week I was wondering "when the heck are these two groups going to relax around each other and become one flock. EVER!?".

    One of the Golden 300 girls Emmaline (who has been my favorite duck from the very beginning) has been feeling/acting "on again, off again" a few times over the last year. She would become slow and just sit around for a few days and just about the time I'd think she wasn't gonna make it she'd rally again and act fine for months. This routine started again about a week ago but the curious thing I noticed on Tuesday was that she was no longer running away from the new girls and they were no longer running away from her. I don't think she felt very good even though she was eating, drinking and moving around, albeit slowly. I was surprised, as the younger girls seemed very curious about her and the fact that she would stay put when they came within her personal space. A few times on Tuesday I found the five of them just standing around each other very quietly. I was surprised.

    Yesterday, when I went to check on her Emmaline was laying down and she kept closing her eyes. Sadly, I knew it was the end for her this time and I believe within the hour she was gone. I had my elderly in-laws in the car with me heading for a Dr. appointment so I couldn't stay with her as I would normally have done and it broke my heart to leave her and that she died alone. I had considered petting her before I left but was afraid it would cause her stress as she'd never been a duck that liked being touched (do ANY of them really [​IMG] ??). I texted my DH & DD about what was happening and then my phone died.

    When I got home two hours later I rushed out to check on her and she was not in the place I had left her. With a hopeful heart I thought "OMG she's ok!!! YAY!!! Wait, where is she, where is she?!" A half second later I noticed a staples paper box in the run. I started to cry and I just KNEW that my DD had checked on her when she came home shortly after my text and had found she had died. She very sweetly put her in the box for me (I'm assuming to protect her from the others prying eyes maybe?). I opened the box and there was my most favorite duck of all time. She looked like she was sleeping. I came into the house and hugged my daughter and cried pitifully for a few minutes. Then my DH and I went out into the wooded front yard and found a good burial site. He dug a great hole which was amazing since we have tons of rocks around. I said goodbye to my best girl and then we buried her and put rocks on top. Ok, that's the sad part.

    Now here's the the interesting part: After the funeral ( [​IMG] ), I went to check on the other 6 ducks and they were all standing around near each other. No one was running, quacking, squawking or making any noise at all. They were just standing there. Quietly. I thought "Hm, that's weird." A little while later I checked again and Gabby & Toughie were eating together at the same time, from the same feeder, TOUCHING EACH OTHER side by side!!! Today when I checked on them they were all sitting together, right near each other. Another time Toughie was in the small pool and Gabby jumped in with her. Neither left. The other 4 girls were just going about their business (eating bugs, dabbling in the wet ground near the pool etc.) but they were doing it together. As weird as this sounds, I think the imminent death of Emmaline caused a shift in the dynamics of the two groups. I believe the young ducks could sense something was really wrong with her and this caused them to calm down.

    Now, they're finally one united flock. It's a sad but interesting story.


    Edited to add her picture from last fall.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2010

  2. Imp

    Imp All things share the same breath- Chief Seattle

    That was a touching story. Sorry you lost Emmaline.

  3. ejctm

    ejctm Songster

    Apr 25, 2009
    SO sorry to hear about your lovely Emmaline. Sounds like it was just her time. [​IMG]

    I agree with your theory too. Animals have a sixth sense and know when another is sick or dying. Perhaps they are all a little unsettled and are sticking together for company and unity. Sounds like it will all work out well in the long run.
  4. desertdarlene

    desertdarlene Songster

    Aug 4, 2010
    San Diego
    That was a sad story, sorry about Emmaline.

    However, and I'm not saying this is the case as you know your duck best, could it be possible that Emmaline was the reason why the two groups stayed apart? Was she a dominant duck, a leader? Did she get extra excited when this other group got near? Maybe the fact that she seemed more relaxed when she got sick made them feel relaxed around her.

    I'm not saying that's what it was, but it's something to think about either way.

  5. Big Dreamer

    Big Dreamer Songster

    Aug 21, 2010
    Central, FL
    Im so sorry about your baby girl, but just remember when one door closes another door opens. Maybe a little duckling will come into the picture and you will fall in love all over again![​IMG]

    Best of luck,
  6. Thanks for sharing that sad but wonderful story. [​IMG] So sorry that you lost Emmaline but it's good to hear that your ducks have integrated.
  7. sianara

    sianara Songster

    Apr 27, 2007
    Central MA
    Thank you. I appreciate the sentiments. It's so hard to lose such a beloved animal.

    Emmaline's story is especially bittersweet. When she was just a few months old she had broke her right wing. She was in a little pool on one side of the run and I had a 2' fence dividing the run down the middle. She was still nervous around people so when I came into the run to "chat" she tried to get away from me via over the TOP of the 2' fence. It was a scary incident to see as she was stuck kinda upside down and couldn't get out of the area (I immediately dismantled the fencing - learned real quick on that one). I knew she was in terrible pain because she let my DD (then 11 years old) hold her and she kept tucking her head under DDs chin. They sat like that for hours while I frantically called other more experienced farm animal owning friends. Finally, Frank (a nurse) came over and he showed me how to tell if they are in pain. He said if there is heat at the injury site it indicates pain. He suggested she see the vet but by this time it was late afternoon and the vet was closed so we set her up at the animal hospital in the basement (dog crate with a heat lamp [​IMG] ) and hoped for the best.

    First thing in the morning I called the vet (one of the few that saw fowl of any kind within an hours drive) Dr. B and she said "bring her right in" so I did. She was a wonderful vet and while it cost me a pretty penny (don't remember how much exactly but at the time I looked at DH and said "Don't EVEN say IT!". He was smart and stayed mute. Dr. B was concerned she would have to amputate if the wing didn't heal but she wanted to try binding it first. So she wrapped it in some tape (pink of course) nice and snug. I had to bring Emmaline back for two more weekly checkups and she got taped (once blue and then purple) up each time. Fortunately, her wing healed and the amputation didn't occur but that wing was always a little lower than the other one. Eventually, when she finished swimming as she flapped you could tell which had been the injured wing.

    Finally, after several weeks we could take the tape off completely [​IMG]. The Doctor warned the wing would be weak for awhile but eventually it would heal and to just give it time.

    Fast forward a few more weeks and fall had then come to New England. Imagine a very crisp, cool day with leaves dropping like, well leaves, everywhere. I had not bought the black pool seen in the above picture yet and had the bright idea that one of those clear plastic bins we all use for storage would work great for a temporary pool. It was about 18-20" deep. So I filled up the pool and the three girls got very happy, very fast. They were jumping in and out of it and quacking like crazy. Water splashing every where and those three sisters had a ton of fun. So DD and I go do errands for a few hours.

    When we come home I see one of the ducks still floating in the plastic bin pool and I think "Oh isn't that sweet she likes it so much she doesn't want to get out." As I get closer I see her eyes are closed. (Keep in mind, I was very, very new to ducks and those ducks were only 5 or 6 months old at the time.) My heart stops as I realize a split second later that it's Emmaline and I KNOW she is dead and she's dead because this IDIOT didn't think to put a rock or something in it for her to get safely OUT of the plastic bin pool. "I mean" I'm thinking/berating myself "What WERE you thinking, her wing is still weak!" The water level was halfway down so of course she couldn't get out the poor thing! I'm usually very cool and calm in stressful situations but for some reason I just lost it and started crying like crazy. I go closer and she opens her eyes and just weakly looks at me. I then scream to DD "OMG! She's still alive!" So we run into the yard and I slowly dump the water and DD picks her up with a huge towel. We then take her back down to the animal hospital. DD sits with her near the heat lamp while I run upstairs to get my hair dryer. DD slowly and calmly (remember she's ELEVEN) dries her off while Emmaline just sits there and lets her. A few times she slowly looked up into DDs eyes and just stared. It made me cry more cuz it felt like she was thanking her for saving her and taking care of her. It still makes me cry to remember that scene. We gave her some sugar water which she gratefully drank (supposedly helps with shock according to Frank).

    Surprisingly, within 30 minutes she was somewhat animated again and ready to go back outside with her sisters (she was quacking LOUD!). We brought the heat lamp out to the run and set it up in a safe place so if she wanted/needed the heat she could get to it. The next day she was pretty much back to normal (even though I saw her/them sitting near it a few times over the next few days).

    For the last week I've been letting the Golden Girls free range in the big yard. I figured they needed some space from the spazzes they were living with. Tuesday, when I got home from work I saw Gabby & Victoria together but no Emmaline. It was raining and dreary so I put on the rain coat and went looking for her calling her name the whole time. I couldn't find her anywhere. I hoped and prayed nothing had gotten to her (this was a chance I took because I wanted her to have some freedom and lots of grass for her remaining days). I was calling her and calling her. I walk out into the front yard calling her and looking right and left. No Emmaline. Then I looked right again and there she was standing in a puddle soaking wet. I think she'd been under the rhododendron bush. I knew then that she wasn't going to get better and I also knew I wasn't going to let her free range anymore. It took us about 3 minutes but we slowly made the walk back to her run in the back yard together. I talked to her the whole way and she responded to me quietly and stumbled a few times. I just knew this was it for her. It made me so sad.

    Gratefully, I had her with me for 6.5 more years after the broken wing incident. I am hoping to have Gabby & Victoria for several more years. I've lost plenty of chickens over the last 8 years but only a few of them have ever made me feel as sad as I feel over the loss of my sweet Emmaline. These Golden 300 hybrids have the best personalities. They actually respond to me in different ways when I talk to them. If I call to them "Hey where the heck are you girls?!" while they are out in their wooded yards, they will respond back to me and come running up the hill so I know where they are.

    I've always enjoyed that.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2010

  8. sianara

    sianara Songster

    Apr 27, 2007
    Central MA
    Quote:You know, that's possible. I never could figure out if she or Victoria was the more dominant duck. But either way, she was a calm duck, not into bullying at all. In fact, I don't think she paid too much attention to those "young uns" - not until, that is, the 3" high green plastic fence was removed...

    I remember thinking before I partially integrated the two groups that Gabby (the smallest and loudest, hence her name) would probably boss the new ducks around since she was lowest in the pecking order of the three ducks. She probably thought this would give her primo chance to boss somebody else around. They were separated by the green plastic fence for 3 months so they could see each other but the older ones couldn't hurt the little ones.

    I waited until they were all the same size to remove the fence and was shocked to see the older three run for the woods like they were being chased by a group of vigilantes with torches! I couldn't believe it and the younger ducks just looked at them as if to say "huh?". Then Toughie got the idea "Hey, I think they're afraid of US. Let's chase THEM!" (Hence, her name).

    The more I watch my different flocks of chickens and ducks interact with each other, the more I learn. (see my signature line below [​IMG] )
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2010
  9. Birdcrazy

    Birdcrazy Songster

    Dec 21, 2009
    I'm so sorry about Emmaline, I know exactly how you feel [​IMG]
    She sounds like a very sweet duck and the story about the 'rivaling ducks' made me smile. It's amazing how much personality ducks have, and how they are so human.

    And I agree very much on the animal senses... when I lost my drake I was sitting in the paddock crying and my mare (the one who has
    so much energy and spirit its insane - also with a very short attention span) came up to me and cuddled me. I was shocked, she just stood there nuzzling my face and resting her head on my shoulder - its amazing how they completely understand moods!
    Our friend also had two dogs, one of which got hit by a car. They burried her under an orange tree and the other dog slept at her grave every night after she died (its a small tree, in the middle of a paddock, away from this lazy dogs comfy bed [​IMG] ).

    I hope you'll find friendship and love with another ducky companion that will become as special as Emmaline - its always worth it [​IMG]

  10. sianara

    sianara Songster

    Apr 27, 2007
    Central MA
    Love your name birdcrazy [​IMG] We are bird crazy in this family as well. We've got 2 parakeets, 26 chickens & 8 ducks. Due to allergies we can't have dogs or cats and we just had to put my DDs ferret Emily to sleep at the beginning of the month so we're basically all about birds now.

    In all the years I've had animals, there have been 5 (including Emmaline) whose loss really got to me. The first was my very first parakeet "Tweety". My DH and I had been going through several years of infertility when he bought Tweety for me for my birthday. That bird was so smart. In fact, the 4 birds that have come after him haven't even come close (well, maybe one did and that was Snowy [​IMG] ). Tweety was my bird and I could call him from a different room and he would come and find me. If anyone washed dishes, he would fly out, land on their shoulder and dive right under the faucet. Imagine my shock the first time this happened? He also thought that it was appropriate for him to share our food when we were eating. It got so bad that we had to lock him up when we ate. One of our favorite stories is the time he flew into my spaghetti and walked around in the sauce and then jumped off and walked across the table to my DH plate and tried to do the same thing [​IMG]. Needless to say, I threw the rest of mine away and locked the little bugger up. Tweety only lived 3.5 years and died when my son was 2. DS is now 21 so it's been a long time but I still love that bird.
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2010

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