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Forty Years with Birds and Dogs 

Two Duck Marriages--Of Sorts

Tomorrow is launch day for THE WEBS OF VAROK, and here I am talking about ducks instead of gorgeous, funny aliens. It may not be obvious at first, but as you get into WEBS you'll see that it's all related, the issues I'm talking about here. They just get a little more serious in WEBS because they involve humans--and you know how humans are about such things. For a sneak preview go to
ArchivesofVarok.com or my blog on Goodreads.

So--two duck marriages, sort of: Colin Tudge uses the term in his wonderful book THE BIRD, (Another find in Hamilton Books) so I've decided I can, too.



It all began when Lucy goose went broody in 2004. I decided she needed something to raise, and I was curious about ducks, so I hunted northern New Mexico until I found someone with newly hatched ducks four weeks after Lucy began to set. They were English Call Ducks, raised by a lady in the middle of Santa Fe with a flooded adobe-walled lot. Though the two ducks were probably too closely related to produce healthy offspring, they have been faithful partners all these years, though Ms. Ritz gets a little demanding when Kiebler takes off for the stock tank, leaving her behind, having decided to stay in the pen and bathe in her bath tub (a plastic dish pan). For a miniature mallard, she has a very loud "Quack QUACK QUACK, QUACK QUACK QUACK, hence the term "Call Duck."

The point here--and I do hesitate to call it a marriage--is that Kiebler isn't exactly faithful, if you'll pardon the human expression. The first summer of his majority, he fell in love with Lucy, then a young goose in her prime. She was irresistible, floating seductively, I guess, in the stock tank, and he couldn't resist. Having romantic visions of grandeur, she he climbed on her back and grabbed her neck, as such fowl will do. The process just seemed to puzzle Lucy a bit, as Kiebler stretched and scrambled, convinced that he could reach more than halfway down her back. He couldn't of course, being 1/8 th of her volume.

This went on more than once, every spring, and Ms. Ritz didn't seem to mind. After all, they say that a male duck needs five females, and Kiebler is certainly no exception. Mr. Campbell is more civilized to his wife Khaki, but he is anything but faithful. He, too, fell in love with a goose--Lucy's adopted daughter, Bobbi, who, at least, is more his size--but that's another story for another day. They get along fine, even civilized, in the winter.

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