Today I was in the local feed store buying some hay – a tad scandalous in itself as they have a new hay vendor and are charging .75 cents more a bale! As I was waiting to pay, I noticed they, like so many feed stores in Central Ohio, have baby ducks and chicks for sale. Now, I would never buy from these places as you never know the diseases these little ones carry – mixing with so many others. In this feed store, however, I was struck by the amount of dead ducklings in their little holding area. It was a massacre.
Ugly as this is to type, the other ducks and chicks were pecking at their dead brethren, recreating a scene from Alive, only under a heat lamp and not in the Himalayas. Amazed at this site, I then saw a duckling who couldn’t stand up. He was cheeping, being stepped on by the others in the bin, pushed under the heat lamp, and being constantly pecked at. I asked the man at the counter if could take him home.
As we drove home, the duckling died in my lap. It was inevitable. But when we got in the truck, I thought, this is surely a better way to go then what he left behind. In pure Lord of the Rings fashion, I laid him to rest in a rich, deep green grassy area, surrounded by early blooming wild flowers. Maybe someone has already eaten him, but he’s joined the circle of life. I placed him on the corner of the property, stopping the truck at the Orchard House entrance – it’s possible he had some disease, and I have too many others to think about.
Next time I’m at the store, I’m going to think about those “expendable” babies who, if they’re lucky, will live the a joyful life on a farm with a lake, or they’ll perish under a heat lamp, having barely survived a journey through the U.S. Postal Service. Remember, when you can be kind, even if the ending is inevitable, you’re turning an animal that was just a number into a living, breathing member of the natural world.