Ducks In A Row

Hazelnut. The friendly one of the three.

Three life lessons I learned from raising ducklings this year.

I wanted a duck. One. Not three. But because I’m a “leap and the net will appear” type of gal, I often jump into things without preparing myself assuming that I’ll learn as I go. 

This serves me pretty well for the most part. It keeps life interesting and my Mister on his toes. Ha!

Back in April, I was looking for chicks but chicks weren’t yet available at the feed store; ducklings were ample. I bought two. I figured if I was going to get one, a second one just made sense.

Unfortunately, one of the ducklings didn’t survive more than a week. I didn’t want the remaining one to be alone so back to the feed store I went for a replacement. There were two left. The clerk begged me to take both and informed me that they cannot be alone. They need to be in pairs or groups. He didn’t even charge me for it. I got a buy-one-get-one-free deal!

And that’s how I ended up with three ducks and three lessons.

 Lesson One

The phrase “ducks in a row” is an idiom that basically means to have details in order, be well organized, prepared, or in proper position before embarking on a new project or undertaking.

I most certainly did not have my ducks in a row when I entered the feed store that fateful day in April.  If I had waited based upon the technicality that I had no idea what I was doing, I would have missed out on a lot of joy over the past eight months. 

I find it interesting that a natural characteristic of ducks is to walk in a row but slightly abreast. If you’ve never had the opportunity to observe ducks, they literally waddle around abreast with one another but slightly staggered. It’s quite comical. Their positioning is orderly without order, inline and misaligned, perfectly imperfect.

We often wait until the right time before we begin to do something. Waiting until things are in order, our schedules are clear, one project is complete before moving on to the next. The lesson I’ve extracted is that sometimes we need to leap before our ducks are in a row because frankly, they’ll never quite be inline. 

Lesson Two

Their cooperativeness is affected by my energy. Unlike chickens, ducks do not tuck themselves in for the night. My three are part-time free-range ducks so when we let them out, we have to physically go shoo them back into their coop before it gets dark. Or, if we get delayed, in the dark which is even more fun. 

It has gotten a little easier as they’ve become better trained but there’s also some strategy involved. And, one of the strategies I’ve come to employ is approaching them with a demeanor that exudes calm and unruffled (no pun intended).

They can read my energy. I’ve gone out to put them away and in my own haste, have ended up unproductively chasing them around in circles as my frustration level rapidly rises. In turn, they become leerier of my intentions and get worked up. So I get more worked up and advance from frustration to agitation. They get even more defiant and I get more pissed. And then… it just keeps escalating. 

I either have to walk away and come back later or send for reinforcement. (AKA Papa Rooster, my mister, who is the true keeper of our flock.)

Anyway, they are much more compliant when I tend to them when I’m intentional about my energy. Isn’t that the case in most situations? We have the power to choose how we respond and therefore, the outcome.

Lesson Three

The net really will appear. 

Any decision to do something comes with a learning curve. Preparing has its place and being proactive, instead of reactive, is a smart strategy a lot of the time.

But also, sometimes diving head-first into something forces you to rise up to meet the occasion. You can put one foot in front of the other and learn as you go. You can begin before you feel you’re ready. You can learn to trust your whims and that somehow, someway, everything will work out okay. 

Sometimes you simply have to have unwavering trust and faith that the net will appear. 

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