There are three ducks who think of my yard as their home. Two are females and one male. They come each and every day from the river. Our home fronts on the river and is about 300 feet from the water all uphill. It's another 200 or so feet to the street. day the ducks come and wait patiently for a handout. When we feed the outdoor cats, the ducks shovel the food in faster than we can pour it out. Don't tell me to give them their own dish, they love eating with the cats.

I knew one of the female ducks was sitting on eggs somewhere nearby. She was missing for several days and then appeared for only a few minutes one day. A sure sign that she had to get back to her nest. It was a work day for me, and no time to watch and wait to see where she was nesting.

About a week ago, I discovered her by accident sitting in the yard about five feet from the street. She was under the cascading leaves of a cactus plant, very well concealed. Now came a time of worry. She was 500 feet from the river. I have several outdoor cats. How was she going to get those babies all that distance to the water without the cats eating them? My cats are big time hunters, I hate it, but they are cats.

This morning I fed the cats and later went to collect the newspaper. There sat the mother duck with ten babies. Six are yellow and four are black. (Mom is black and white.) Apparently they had hatched on Easter Sunday. She was surrounded by four cats that were all sniffing the ducklings. The mother was not hissing or acting afraid of the cats. This bunch broke bread together. None of the cats made any attempt to grab or harm the babies! Just looked as if admiring them and then smelling them. I didn't know how long it would take them to want to taste.

I was praying hard as I walked slowly to them. I shooed the cats and gathered the babies, cramming them into the pockets of my robe and holding others in my hands. I couldn't hold them all and had to pull up the hem of my robe to form a nest to put them in. Once this was done and I had them all safe, I opened the gate to the riverside yard for the mother to pass through. Getting them safely to the river was a chore as they kept climbing and jumping down. The mother followed me and several cats followed behind her. What a parade!

None offered to snatch up the little ducks when they jumped from my robe pockets. We made it without a single loss!

I placed the babies on the grass at the waters edge. Mom jumped in and called to the babies to join her. In less than a minute they were all in the water.

I breathed a sigh of relief as they all swam away in a straight line directly behind mom. Walking back up the hill, I thought it was a perfectly wonderful day.

© Clara Wersterfer

Texas, US

One Cat is Company

"One cat is company.
Two cats are a conspiracy. 
Three cats is an attempted takeover.
Four or more cats is a complete coup!"

Shona Steele (Australia)

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