Last Sunday we ate a duck for dinner, his name was 3.

I once had a duck named Lulu, 3’s mother. When her eggs hatched she promptly began killing her ducklings. I rescued 3 and his five brothers and sisters when their down was still wet, and took over their mothering. It was a wonderful, exhausting and heartbreaking experience motherhood; it was as close as I am ever likely to come.

Poverty is the mother of invention, thus we have developed unusual methods of caring for animals in need. My little flock lived in our cooler, in the house with a heating pad until they were strong enough to go outside. It’s difficult to maintain small birds in the campo, there are many dangers, scorpion stings and predators: hawks, skunks and chickens are brutal; the least sign of weakness inspires barbaric behavior in chickens. Twice I watched as hawks carried my babies away. I fell to the ground in tears, helpless. I gained a lot of respect for my hens that manage to bring even one chick to fruition under these conditions. Three’s original name was five, he was always the one on the outskirts, the one I could not find when I did a headcount, one, two, three… always ending with, where’s five? As my flock dwindled his name changed, until there were only 3. Continue reading