Ballyhoo Fiber Emporium
Sustainability in Every Skein!


Ballyhoo Fiber Emporium podcast for fiber artists and producers featuring farm tips, sheep education, industry guests, farm updates, and more!

How Ducklings Make a Difference

Zeke is completely besotted by the ducklings. While on the surface his behavior appears instinctual, I truly believe he loves them. Border Collies encounter many animals in the course of their work. Zeke is happy to chase the poultry, herd the sheep, and harass the horses. He has no qualms about eating bugs, it does not bother him to find a dead bird or rodent in the yard.

These ducklings are the first babies in the house since Champagne died. I struggled with that; Zeke is young, male, and overeager. He lacks a mothering instinct. Indeed his herding drive is an extremely fine tuned predatory instinct, therefore he can never be trusted not to injure something smaller than he is (even though I'm sure it would be inadvertent). Still, if his greatest desire is to round things up and keep them in one spot, his secondary agenda is to keep his flock safe.

It didn't occur to me unt this morning that Zeke probably knows these ducks better than I do, likely expected them, heard them while they were in their shells. Of course it would follow that he'd sit with me watching Peanut breathe, licking him beak to tail until (s)he was clean. Peanut and the other ducklings were, in Zeke's mind, established members of the Ballyhoo flock.

Zeke waits by the door of the guest room every morning, hoping to be allowed to be near the ducklings. He lies down at attention, likely would watch them all day - they are in a box, needing no further herding. The cats are predatory. Frida is curious but not obsessive. Zeke is so concerned with his ducks that when he heard a duckling peep on a Facebook video I watched last night he leapt up and searched my phone, my lap, my hands and chest, and the entire couch. When a Border Collie cares for you, it's for life.

Every two days I fill up the bathtub and let the ducklings swim while I clean the plastic tub they call home. Usually I don't allow animals in there, but Zeke was so earnest today and Nick agreed to supervise him. He sat perfectly still for about twenty minutes (possibly the longest he's ever been still while awake); periodically the ducklings swam right up to him. Peanut and Brown Duck even kissed his nose. It got too much for his BC brain - quivering, the whites of his eyes showing all around, he raised his lips a couple of times - and I turned him to look at me, break The Eye, and relax.

I live a small life. I am mostly unconcerned with politics, trends, gadgets, money, and celebrity. My world consists of art, music, friends, small business, the science of agriculture and animal husbandry. I live a small life, but a strong and important one. I watch the weather, I watch birth, I don't watch the news. My morning entertainment is a beagle watching the cats watching a cicada in the grass. My late night talk show is  hosted by an obstinate rooster; a chorus of sheep provide the musical act. This week a man set his estranged wife on fire and killed himself, a man shot people trying to relax in a theater, and a 15 year old girl smothered her infant in a hospital bathroom. Some of my friends have used these incidents as political soapboxes. It sickens me. I saw an ad claiming that Millenials will vote for Bernie Sanders because he is a candidate they can identify with. They need to buy less of what the media is selling and identify with things that matter: the reality of a life well and honestly lived. If we took more care with our own small programs, the big picture would take care of itself. What I do matters to one sheep. That sheep matters to my fiber processor, to the knitters and spinners who buy the wool, and ultimately to the person who will wear the finished product. That is a chain of positive difference. What I do matters for one duck, who matters to Zeke, who matters to me. That's a circle of concern. My challenge to you, dear readers, is to narrow your focus this week. Do something that matters as close to home as you can, and know that the difference will ripple outward, like five little paddling ducks.

Madeline RosenbergComment