In 1968, “The Odd Couple” was a delight to watch, and until recently I thought it was pure amusement and fiction. Of late, I have concluded that a real odd couple can exist as well. I refer not to a slapstick comedy, but rather to a serious situation that results from a new relationship.
Two months ago, to my great regret, Quack II died in the pond I had prepared for her and Quack I. Her demise completely turned the barnyard upside down. Quack I was bereft, and in a state of profound remorse. He was speeding around, confused, talking incessantly, and manifesting deep sorrow. He and Quack II had been inseparable from birth, or should I say from hatching? They ignored the other fowl and sought only to be together by themselves. They were truly a happy pair and utterly blissful.
Then all of a sudden, after Quack II’s departure, relationships changed. For reasons unfathomable to me, Quack I bonded with Gladys, who in turn left Henry and began to pal with Quack I. Henry did not seem to mind; in fact, I think that he appeared to be somewhat glad to be free. He always much preferred to be with me, particularly in the yard, and he only honks when we are talking to each other. He is truly a prince of a gander.
I cannot tell if Gladys considers Quack I a child or a boyfriend. She is over four times the size of Quack I, and most interestingly, she has stopped honking, but Quack I quacks enough for both of them. They both seem to be engaged to the extent of ignoring everyone else. Gladys does get her fair share of the vittles, but otherwise she is quite subdued, compared to her usual boisterous behavior.
This year she has made a nest and laid her eggs in it, but she has shown no interest in setting on it. Once the egg is deposited, she is out of there. Gladys is a Cotton Patch goose, bred to be able to weed the cotton fields of the south. The species is large and bulky, thus able to consume a lot of greenery. I suspect that ere long they will be weeding the solar fields as well.
Henry is much more cultured and refined than Gladys. A few weeks ago, I was concerned that he was considering going farther away than in our yard, but he was surveying the terrain and came back after he had tasted some apparently delicious greens. He is not a big eater, but rather prefers to pick and choose. He has never paid any attention to the ducks, nor they to him.
Clarence, our rooster, steers clear of Henry, concentrating solely on his harem, who are producing a steady supply of eggs. We have six compartments for laying eggs, but the hens all prefer one, and take turns laying in it. The chickens are Rhode Island Reds, and one of them lays an enormous egg that looks more like a goose egg that a hen egg.
Last year Esmerelda sat for the entire summer on her eggs, thereby causing me great expectations of chicks being forthcoming, all to no avail, and she was deeply depressed when everything came to naught. I had to counsel her for weeks. This year I do not want her to undergo such a strain on her nervous system, hence I am collecting the eggs.
At present, the big news in the barnyard is the “odd couple.” I have concluded that Quack I is an understudy, rather than a date or progeny. Perhaps he thinks he will grow up to be like Gladys, bursting on the scene in all of her bombastic glory, but if such musings make him happy, so be it.
P.S. Quack II’s demise was not the result of “fowl play.”