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Possumhaw: Peeps in the Prairie

 

Shannon Bardwell

 

It was Good Friday, one of Sam's annual fishing days. I, on the other hand, drove out to Tractor Supply to look at ducklings. I told myself I didn't have to buy any, I would just look. I gave myself permission to buy some if I wanted to, but I didn't have to. I had an animated conversation with myself the whole way. 

 

"Yes, you should get the ducklings. Leah needs friends of her own kind." 

 

"No, of course you shouldn't get the ducklings. You don't know anything about raising ducks. Where would you keep them? What if you kill them? 

 

So I hung over the railing looking at a hundred ducklings all saying, "Peep, peep, peep."  

 

I picked up the "Starter Kit," complete with instructions, food, a waterer and a food bin. It said that was all I'd need to get started, along with some pine shavings and a heat lamp or one of those cheap silver bowl-like lamps that we keep in the garage. 

 

I hung over the rail some more; then, "I'll take three; this one and these two," I said. 

 

Danny, the salesman, chased the three I had indicated until he caught them and put them in a little carrier like a Kentucky Fried Chicken box.  

 

I had deliberately picked out the most active, figuring their survivability would be enhanced.  

 

I asked Danny to put it all in the back of the jeep, including the peeps. "Wait," I said. "I guess the peeps should ride up front with me." 

 

Danny nodded readily. He agreed the peeps should ride next to me. 

 

At home I found a plastic storage bin that would work at least for a while. I poured in the shavings and set up the waterer and the food. I took all of it to the upstairs bathroom and put the peeps in. I could hold all three peeps in two cupped hands. I sat them in their new home. They said, "Peep, peep, peep." 

 

Sam came home and announced, "I caught 33 crappie today and kept about 26." 

 

"That's wonderful," I said. "I bought three peeps today, and they're upstairs in the bathroom." 

 

The peeps have been great, though they have caused me much angst. I worried what I would do next 'cause they were growing fast and couldn't stay in the bathroom. 

 

I woke in the night and worried how I would transition them to the lake. Would Leah teach them survival skills? I worried.  

 

In the meantime, caretaking peeps was exhausting, I was cleaning their bin like diapers and continually putting out food and changing water they had stepped in. 

 

Then I mentioned to Jacky Triplett that I had peeps. The next day he brought the most perfect peep pen, and not a moment too soon. I immediately set up the telescope so I can peek at the peeps from the house. It will be another month before they can go to Leah and the lake.

 

Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.

 

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