Annually, I like to remind people that animals are not disposable. I like to do this after Easter and Spring because chicks and ducks and rabbits are often given as gifts to young children in urban settings. If you are planning to keep chickens or ducks or rabbits after the holiday, then you don’t need this reminder. Carry on. I’m sure the livestock needs food and water.
When I was very young, my mom gave me a duckling for Easter. I received some food and a little bird cage for the poor thing. (I’m pretty sure I have shared this story before. It still bothers me) No swimming pool or an outside pen, which we had lots of room for. A month or so after Easter, my brother happened to notice the duckling, which was no longer a little ball of yellow fuzz. The bird could barely turn around in the cage. I kept feeding it and giving it drinking water, but had no idea how to ask for a larger cage or a pen.
Once my mom became aware of the situation, she told me the duck had to go to someone who had a pond for it to swim in and a flock of friends to live with. Sadly, I said goodbye to the bird, which I am sure I gave some original name like Fuzzy, and never saw him again. I suspect he was dumped at a near-by lake and left to fend for himself in the wild.
Another caution, please don’t dump ducks in local water hazards or lakes. Some do survive. At the lake where I walk my dog, we see a huge white duck, called Snowy, with the mallard flock there. I feel like the bird’s days are numbered. White ducks can’t hide very well. Even though they were bred from mallards originally, that was a few hundred years ago.
Moving on, I managed to be the death of a few chickens and rabbits, too. My aunt had a rabbit and decided to give it to my mom. She did this with a lot of her animals, mostly dogs. Anyway, the rabbit came with no cage or food. So we found a cube without a top or bottom, wood frame and wire sides. It wasn’t horrible for the rabbit but not ideal. He had to sit in his own poop and urine. I moved it every few days, but now I find that horrendous.
Easter arrived. Near us was a feed store that had a window with a heat lamp and little fuzzy chickens on display. Mom once more gave in to my pleas and bought a few chicks. I put them in the same little pen with the rabbit. I don’t remember if I named the chicks. The rabbit was male and black. In my ten-year-old brain, the name Black Buck sounded romantic and beautiful. Only the knowledge that no racial prejudice was involved makes that memory bearable.
Anyway, we had a cold spell with frost and everything. I went out to tend to my animals and found one of the chicks frozen and flat. Huh. I couldn’t understand what happened. I disposed of the body and told my mom. The next morning, the same thing. And the next. Finally, it dawned on us that the rabbit was keeping himself warm by sitting on the chickens. The flat, frozen chickens had been squished by the bunny.
No more chickens after that and sadly the bunny also passed on not long after that. I don’t know why he went, but I knew I was done for the time. And who knows how many bunnies and chicks and ducklings were saved by that decision.
To sum up, keep the livestock for the farmers and give adorable plush critters for holidays. You might also be saving your life or that of your children. Poultry can carry diseases that will be life-threatening. If your bunny picks up a tick, you have another issue to worry about. The bottom line is, if it’s alive, your child is better off without it. Find something plush instead.
Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Sunday.