Poor Bob.

Although he and his wife live in the country on a few acres, they have no intention of being farmers.

In fact, Bob had no intention of having animals in his life at all, much less having intimate relations with the various and odd assortment of creatures his wife Linda slipped onto the property.

Starting innocently enough with what are clearly pets: bunnies, kitties and small hook-bill parrots; the real trouble began with a phone call from Linda’s sister concerning a rescue duck.

Though the Tartes never progress beyond feathered livestock, their troubles and victories are very familiar to anyone who shares their life with all types of animals, and sees the personality of each one clearly.

From pecking order to special diets, animal housing construction by the humans to human housing de-construction by the animals, this book is a shameless confession of lives lived at the beck and call of those being cared for, where the keepers may be the top of the food chain, but the critters are holding the ladder.

There is something very telling about a family where the main doctors are the psychiatrist and the veterinarian.

Clearly, this is not an agricultural How To book.  For the family farmer, this is the sort of book to read in BETWEEN How-To books—a mental palate-cleanser that lets nuts and bolts type stuff settle deeply in your head while letting your spirit laugh a little.

Like a rainbow during a storm, tadpoles discovered in a mud puddle, a dragonfly perched on the stalks of drought-killed corn, Enslaved by Ducks is a quiet reminder that what we’re doing is more than the serious work of caring for our families and our land.  It also has to do with being connected to the earth, to its other inhabitants, and, gosh darn it, it’s fun.

Most “normal” people will find this a humorous read.

Those of us who see our animals as more than assets and culinary ingredients, who not only take pains to raise our food humanely and fairly, but who on occasion make that sometimes unexplainable extra leap to make emotional contact with a special few creatures not normally considered “companion animals”, will recognize the weight of Linda’s seemingly innocuous five words after telling her sister they’d be willing to take  the Muscovy hen rescued from a parking lot:

“I’ve always wanted a duck.”

 

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