Sometimes You Get Ducks

Sharon December 27th, 2009

Even though I love my farm in many ways, I have some worries about it.  The biggest one is that I’m fairly far away from many of our “centerpoints” in life – my family (Eric’s is more spread out, while mine is clustered in one area), our religious community and closest friends from synagogue and a few other things.  We have a great community in our neighborhood and region, and hope eventually to find good housemates, but I sometimes wonder whether we shouldn’t move closer to others, even if it meant giving up some of the land, privacy and natural beauty we have out here.  I’ve never come to any useful conclusion on this, but there’s a part of me that thinks that if the right arrangement could be constructed, we’d consider moving, trying to recreate what we have on a smaller scale in the city or the ‘burbs. 

Well, one of my ongoing jokes (and I’m not sure I’m joking, but I think everyone else is) with some close friends from synagogue is that we ought to form a kibbutz near our shul, buying a decent-sized piece of property in suburbia with a couple of houses or a potential duplex and moving in together to share childcare, land and garden, religious life and food.  We were talking about this after skating on Christmas morning, and I was again, half-jokingly, selling the case for starting our own commune (with private abodes, I’m not insane ;-) ).

Joe could see the case for it – for more hands and more spouses (doesn’t everyone need a wife ;-) ?), but without actual partner-swapping, which besides being not our thing seems like a lot of work.  Plus, he pointed out, there the ducks.  See Joe’s father was chinese and Joe is big on duck.  Kosher duck is almost impossible to come by, and while I’ll raise it, the cost of getting a schochet (ritual slaughterer) out to my farm raises the cost of the duck into the astronomical range.  There have been mutterings about teaching someone to slaughter, but there are ritual complexities (I was shown how once and do our own, but only for our consumption).  Ducks, Joe declared, would probably seal the deal for him (again, we’re joking – there are  other complexities).

Well, after a morning of ice skating and a lovely brunch of cranberry bread, coffee cake and waffles (starch and sugar heaven!) we were ready to head home to spend the rest of the day relaxing.  We waved goodbye to our friends and drove home.  We were just getting the woodstove running when Eric came and said “there are ducks out there.”  I thought he meant wild ducks, but no, Eric meant six large, white Pekin ducks, all waddling in unison through my yard, quacking enthusiastically, and checking out the turkeys.

The ducks stayed all afternoon, and then disappeared again.  They were friendly and took corn from the children’s hands.  I don’t know where they came form, although several more distant neighbors have ponds.   

Now if I were of a pre-scientific mindset, I’d be inclined to suggest this was an omen, but being a modern sort I haven’t exactly placed my house on the market ;-) .  If Christmas were my holiday I could probably sell a pretty cute story to some magazine about the miracle of the ducks.  As it is, all I can say is that the world is a strange place, and sometimes you get what you expect, and sometimes, you get ducks.

Happy Holidays, Folks!

Sharon

17 Responses to “Sometimes You Get Ducks”

  1. Jena Becker says:

    In all seriousness, I know a family in my area that lives all together and seems to love it. It is the Dad, Mom, and I think 3 grown sons and 1 daughter. All the sons are married and between them have 6 little girls under age 5. The family owns a retail business so whom ever feels like going to work goes and the others stay home and watch the kids. It seems to work out really well for them. They are pretty well off financially and have a huge house to accommodate them all. One of my friends is good friend with the wives and she said after spending time in their home it seems to be a sincerely good arrangement. They get a lot of criticism for it, and it is a little strange, but I’d love to be so close with my family!

  2. Julie says:

    I certainly understand your concerns about the shortcomings of your current situation. I too have mixed feelings about mine. I live driving (not biking) distance from town, by myself in a house and on a property really designed for two. I would love to haul the whole thing closer (biking distance) to town and sell my vehicle. And then find or create more community close by and share garden space with likeminded souls. But then…..I like my solitude.
    Good luck to you finding the perfect balance ;-)

  3. Devin says:

    Sharon,
    If and when you want to start the commune, let us know. We would love to be considered for the opportunity to be part of it.
    In Frith,
    Devin

  4. >seems like a lot of work

    Uh-h-h-h-h, yeah.

    I would not worry too much about social structure; if we try too hard everyone’s personality gets in the way but after any real kind of TEOTWAWKI, wagon-circling happens on its own. You have said this often, and better, yourself.

  5. et says:

    I would think that anyone who needs at least two separate rituals to slaughter a duck already is of a pre-scientific mindset.

    Where/how to live are difficult questions and an optimal solution probably only exists for very few of us (not me).

  6. Brad K. says:

    I wonder if there isn’t an unwarranted assumption here – does moving closer to family *have* to mean moving away from rural resources (and zoning)? Is there nothing “rural” closer to your family while still outside city limitations?

    Another alternative is to invite the shul to move to more open ground, invite the family to consider moving.

    On the ducks, I would check the neighbors within a mile or so – likely someone had kids or visitors that left a gate open. The ducks might have come from farther away, but at least those you ask will know they had been spotted, and would be likely to pass that information along if the owners come looking.

    Blessed be!

  7. Susan says:

    I’m in the opposite situation. On acreage within suburbia, an old relict market garden. Worried about neighbours not wanting stock and crowing roosters, and have had neighbour problems before (trespass, property damage, verbal abuse when I speak up). The worst of town living. But 5 minutes drive from work, a functional if unreliable bus service, town water, shops and even a market nearby, friends, church, community. I too have been tetchy lately and not sure why. We have been driving, looking, thinking about selling up and moving OUT of town. No logical reason why, there is nowhere better. Everywhere is further out, or no water, or flood land or all of the above. Why would I move? But then, why do I feel tetchy? We think we will shop for another place and at least then I will know that I’m here because there is nowhere better.

  8. Edward Bryant says:

    Ahhh. The Miracle of Ducks. Yes. That particular Miracle is not too uncommon right around Boxing Day. Definitely an omen.

    Thanks Sharon! Miss my moscovies.

  9. Sharon says:

    Et – Fair enough, thanks for the laugh!

    Brad, near my family (north of Boston), what little rural land there is is incredibly expensive – to get five acres for less than half a million dollars would be incredibly unlikely. There’s inexpensive city property, but not acreage that would permit us to have goats.

    And honestly, I wouldn’t make either move, except to have a tighter community – that’s the only thing that would draw me away from my beloved home.

    Sharon

  10. Lisa Bashert says:

    Have to comment on this too — didn’t you say in Depletion & Abundance, Stay, stay, stay?

    Having lived in the same small SE Michigan town for 20+ years, I’ve been working for 15 of them to lure everyone I love to within walking distance. My daughter just bought a house in the neighborhood last week (YAY!!!) and my best friend not already in the neighborhood is closing on a house 2 blocks away by the end of the week. FINALLY. Meanwhile, though it’s still pretty urban within 35 miles of Detroit, the urban gardening revolution is going strong here. There are deficits being in town, but I can ride my bike to work, I am growing food in my own yard & a community garden, and am part of a vibrant farmer’s market/CSA/independent farming area. Michigan has more food diversity and independent farms than anywhere but California. Many young farmers are getting into the act here — looks like the local hospital may be hosting a farmer’s market next year run by a young farmer I know. (Fingers crossed.) There’s much talk of a farming cooperative just outside town, also within a bikable distance. 80 low-income families in town got 3 raised beds each last summer through Growing Hope, our gardening/food security nonprofit. Urban “microfarms” like mine are getting more and more visible and influential — and, I think, really helping to build community. There is so much that CAN be done in our cities.

  11. Kerrick says:

    The Wilderness Torah folks, out my way, are wanting to start a sustainable land-based community. Opposite coast, I know, but maybe you all could help each other somehow. http://wildernesstorah.org/

  12. Claire says:

    I don’t feel the slightest inclination to move. What a beastly complicated thing moving is. We did it eight years ago. I hope to never do it again. We chose the place we moved to expressly with the thought that it is the last place we’ll live. It’s pretty well set up for what is already happening and what is likely to happen.

    None of my family live anywhere close by us, or each other. I’m not all that certain I want any of them nearby except for my elderly parents, though I’d take any of them in if they needed a place to live. Seems to be a giant chasm between my family members and reality. I talk a little about what we do, but more to plant tiny seeds for the future than because they can understand what we are doing and why at the present. The best I can do is keep the ties and the lines of communication going.

  13. Yael says:

    Sharon I have long fantasized about there being just such a community! (outside of Israel of course), my dream has always been to move to some sort of American-style kibbutz where there are communal Friday night services followed by a Shabbat dinner where all the dishes are home-grown and handmade.

    So, if you ever truly do lose your mind and decide to start planning this Gan Eden of sorts…count me in to come up and help out!! Although, an opportunity to meet young farming-minded Jewish boys would be something I would want to add to this fantasy Let me know if you happen to find any of those mysteriously appearing in your yard! ;)

    But in all seriousness, count me in!
    ~Yael W.

  14. Yael says:

    Coming back to add–Why not do it on your current property? Create the kibbutz around you? That way you wouldn’t have to move and you’d get the community…a win-win! :D

  15. Sharon says:

    Yael, we’ve been trying. We’ve advertised several times for housemates here (I don’t really want to have much in the way of building done on my land – there isn’t enough of it), and have encouraged people to look at property around us. So far, no dice in terms of people with the same long term goals, and most Jews don’t want to be rural, for reasonable reasons.

    Sharon

  16. Sara: in northern rural Alabama says:

    Sharon and other lovers of ducks,

    I have 3 Pekins and 5 Cayugas and a Blue Swedish.

    I need duck feeding instructions!

    Any good books or websites out there?

    Blessed Be!

    Sara

  17. tickmeister says:

    Same problem with me, I’m on 140 acres pretty far out, plus I’m getting old. I often wish I was closer to like minded people, but I like it here too much too move. Besides, the old saying that three moves equals a fire is about right.

    I once walked to the garden and found 2 peacocks wandring through the tomatoes. They left and never returned and I don’t know anybody anywhere near who owns peacocks. They were definitely an omen, who knows of what?

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