Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Guest Post-Jo, meet the baby ducks!

New addition Maslow on the left, with Pavlov 

Were you born yesterday?

By Jo Pavlov

I remember many many years ago having supper with my then-boyfriend and his three little kids.  Josh was about seven then, and was a good kid.  He would eat whatever was on his plate, and as I was a vegetarian, I would often have something different on mine.  He was a curious kid and once asked me why I ate differently than them.  I told him I didn't believe in killing and eating animals, but don't think I really knew that he didn't know meat was killed animals, or maybe I would have phrased it a little differently.  He didn't know pork used to be a pig, beef used to be a cow.  No one had ever really explained it to him.  He looked horrified.  I spared him the knowledge that veal was BABY cow and foie gras was FORCE fed goose, because that's a horror to learn when you are older.  From that point forward he always wanted to eat what I was eating, and even when his dad made him eat meat, he'd do so grudgingly and eat as little of it as possible.

I love all animals.  I really do.  Oh, except for possums, but maybe one day I'll learn to love them too.  Baby animals melt my heart.  I feel all at once overwhelmed and in awe of nature and I get the distinct sense that if we all acted a little more like nature intended us to, we'd all be better off.

I saw the pictures last week on Linda's blog of Pavlov, the duckling, hatching.  I had never seen anything like it, and I forwarded it to everyone I knew.  Imagine that, to be present at the moment of awakening like that.  Little Pavlov's head wasn't even out of the shell yet.  That was his first beam of sunlight.  I knew that wasn't Linda's hand (the fingernails were too clean) but it was her daughter's.  Imagine to be a child getting to witness that in your backyard.  Pardon me.  In your hand in your backyard.

Today when I went to pick up my CSA basket, Linda told me she had a new duckling.  I said, "Yes!  Pavlov!  My namesake!" She said, "No, another one!  It hatched on Monday!" 

Maris went inside and collected the hatchlings to show me.  He brought them out.  Pavlov, much larger than the baby, is about a week old.  The baby was born on Monday.  Seemingly forgetting it was Wednesday, I cuddled the baby close to my heart and murmured in baby talk, "Oh my dear are you ever new!  Were you born yesterday?  Huh?  Were you born yesterday?"  Linda kept saying, "No, he was born on Monday" but I wasn't listening.  I was too busy cooing and checking out those perfect little webbed feet and clean little nibbling bill.  His wings were little stubby nothings, and the down on him was soft as soft could be.  I couldn't stop snuggling that little hatchling.

Linda said that the duckling's mother was one of the Indian Runners that.... uh... run around the property.  She says they will drop eggs and ignore them completely, and how that breed manages to persist is anyone's guess.  The mothers have no maternal instinct and the fathers are just as bad.  I used to be a Peregrine Falcon watcher in downtown Hamilton back in the day, and one thing fascinating about that raptor is that the males and females mate for life and take turns warming the eggs and bringing the chicks dinner.  I couldn't stand watching feeding time as they are carnivorous birds of prey, but it warmed my feminist heart to watch Dad doing at least some of the dirty work of chick-rearing.

Pavlov and his as-yet unnamed sibling have humans doing that work at the moment.  But it won't be long before they start running off and diving in the pond.  Those webbed feet made me think of that old adage " a duck takes to water" and I hope I'm there to see one of their first swims... that would be delightful.  It was freaky enough watching them waddle around on the ground having been born what, yesterday?

This week also marks the first week that I could name almost ALL the contents of my basket without help!!!  I couldn't name heirloom varieties if I tried, but I know yummy TOMATOES when I see them, and I squealed with glee.  And shoved a couple in my mouth before I could even hand back the duckling.  They are flavourful delicious tomatoey tomatoes that taste the way tomatoes are supposed to taste.  I am so sick of genetically modified waterlogged grocery store tomato-like products.  I cannot WAIT for tomato season to kick into high gear.

There was also a nice big mittful of green beans, or what I like to call the candy of garden.  Half of those were gone by the time I walked the 20 steps to the car.  

Linda and Maris also hooked me up with a nice big bag of my new favourite... uh... weed?  green?  discovery?  What's the word I'm looking for here?  It's PURSLANE!  So far, out of all the new foods I've been introduced to through the CSA program, that's the one I've liked the best.  And the cherry on top of this week's batch:  MOUSE MELONS!  Google it.  They are amazing, and they pack a punch of cucumber-like deliciousness in a tiny gumball sized drop.

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