Sewn-Up Duck

Last Sunday I was awoken by the Border Collies barking madly at 2am. I took a look out the window to see the ducks all clustered, standing at attention in their pen. My flashlight caught Ms. Coyote behind their pen as she dashed away. I tromped out in my robe and boots, all looked ok, until I got to the back of the pen. Darn, she got one. Or did she?

The mature ducks know that if they stay calmly in the center of the pen then nobody can  hurt them, because they see the Border Collies race around outside all the time. But days before I’d just put some juvenile ducks in this pen too, and they didn’t know that. One of them had panicked and wedged between the wooden house and the wall of the pen. And the coyote was able to grab.


The duck was filleted open, but still alert. I put my boots and jeans on, and unwedged her and brought her into the house. Her entire abdomen was opened up, but everything looked intact, not much blood. So, I sewed her up like a rag doll, using a pre-loaded catgut suture I was glad to have on hand. I waffled on whether to try to cut the feathers away around the wound, like how you’d shave fur on a mammal to keep the suture clean. But, I ended up figuring I could work around them, and that they might be more problematic if they were stubbley. And, it was 2am, so I just did the best I could. :-}


Kirk asked me later “why didn’t you just butcher her?” I don’t know, I guess I didn’t consider that option in my sleepiness, and I suppose she seemed like she wanted to live. Later I wondered if it would have been kinder, to spare her the pain of what is essentially major abdominal surgery. But, a week later, she seems fine, so I guess it was the right decision. She is even starting to put weight on that foot already (albeit it’s knuckled over).

I’ve been putting Schreiners Herbal Solution on the wound each day. She spent today bathing, preening her feathers and eating greens in the sunshine. I put her in with some new hatchlings for company, and they are getting along fine. The body’s power to heal always amazes me.


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