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At my friend Molly’s farm, chickens that no longer produce wind up in the stew pot. Our Cayuga ducks reached that point, but we couldn’t bring ourselves to dispatch them. I offered them up for adoption via Craig’s List and Freecycle, but because I believe in full disclosure, I revealed the fact that the drake (a.k.a. Drake-ula) rapes chickens. That might have something to do with the fact that there were no takers.

With the exception of Adrian’s retired pet chicken Buttercup, I cannot feed farm animals that don’t produce (and the truth is, I’d just as soon get rid of Buttercup). So when we weighed the stew pot vs. freedom option, we eventually came down on the side of freedom and decided to take them to a nearby lake.

The female has never shown any interest whatsoever in brooding and they never made babies, so she’s not going to mess with the natural order of things. But a drake who rapes chickens could easily breed with wild ducks. This is another part of the ethical quandary. Do you risk messing with the local fauna by introducing a different breed?

Which, of course, assumes they figure out how to do what wild ducks do and fend for themselves. It also assumes they don’t get consumed by an eagle or a coyote.

With all these questions going through my head, we wrestled the ducks into a cat carrier, drove to the lake, set the carrier by the shore, opened the door and waited. “Eureka!” they quacked, and immediately waddled into the water. They dived and splashed, paddled about, explored the neighborhood, and were immediately checked out by the local duckizenry. And then we knew we’d done the right thing. These were clearly ducks who thought they’d died and gone to heaven.

“I wish I could be out there with them,” Adrian said.

However long they live in the wild, they will be happy. If they can’t quite figure the fending for themselves part out, there are homes all around the lake where they can ask for a handout. And soon, there will be people fishing, boating, and swimming there. In the end, I’m thinking that life on the lake is a lot better than the stew pot.

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