I was 14 and living with my parents, three brothers and three sisters on a farm in Coleridge. We had no electricity or running water in the house. We carried water in a bucket from the spring across the branch of water that ran through our farmland.
Our dogs were for hunting opossum and raccoon, so I didn't care to play with them as pets, but I did become fond of a duckling.
It was spring when one of our white ducks hatched out a nest of ducklings. The mama most of the time stayed out on the branch of water. Every day I went to the branch to visit the mama and babies. The ducklings' yellow feathers were so soft and pretty.
Two weeks after they hatched, one of the ducklings started to follow me around. I kept talking to him, holding him close, petting him. My brothers and sisters knew that this duckling belonged to Geneva. I called "Ducky, Ducky," and he would come running toward me. He rubbed the side of his bill with an upward motion against my face, showing that he cared for me. Every day when my chores were done, I headed to see my pet duck.
Ducky grew into a fine-looking white drake. A year passed, and I continued to visit my pet. He would follow me down toward the barn and all around the branch. I would sit on the bank and watch my beautiful duck swim.
One day I looked everywhere for my duck but could not find him. I asked family, but no one would tell me they had seen my duck. At dinnertime, my brother said, "There's Geneva's duck. He's on the table." Dad had cooked my pet duck. I left the table crying and refused to eat anything that evening.
I understand now that my poor family raised ducks not for pets but for food. At 85 years old, I still hold fond memories of the love I had for my duck and his ability to show that he cared for me.