A sad pond story with a happy ending for some ducks!


This is what our pond looks like now.  I was so upset about this I couldn’t  even photograph it!

Finally…….now that the ending is written……I could.

Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 2.48.19 PM

This was two months ago.

Can you imagine???

This is what our pond looked like a few months ago!

Montecito is in a severe drought;  and we have been ordered to cut our water use

by 60%.  When we dug this pond 17 years ago;  it filled up with water!

However, because of the drought, the water table has fallen.

Our mallard ducks, who have come every year and laid their eggs in the duck house, came and hatched

their ducklings.  The ducklings can’t fly for at the least, 52 days.  They hatched

April 13!!



These are our ducks in our pond last year  June 29th!!!   They were just about to start to fly!  The Mama

is in the middle (slightly lighter);  and she is talking to me!

This year……different story altogether..and I didn’t see it coming!!!

When the pond started going down precipitously ;  I was beside myself!!

We ordered 6 thousand gallons of water trucked in by tanker.  It lasted 4 days!

(The water is what protects the ducklings from all the predators.)

My friend Radisha suggested that I buy “wolf pee”!  And apply a ring of it around the pond!  I did!!!

(Guess where you get it???  “Predator pee.com”!!   could I possibly make that up???)

It is collected at zoos and sanctuaries;  and the wolf pee is the one every animal is afraid of!

(the sale of these “predator pees”  help fund the shelters and

refuges of coyotes, and wolves…..and other mammal predators!)

The “wolf pee” worked for a week; and then the water was down so far I knew the coyotes and bobcats and

who knows what would prey on these ducklings!

(I think my husband thought a straightjacket would be a good idea!)

Hysteria set in!!  Sobbing…..it was bad.

It was so scary and terrible.  I feel so responsible for these ducklings!

We had to leave for the east coast in the middle of this emergency!  We left at 3 am on a Monday…….I was catatonic.

This mother duck.  She is the heroine of this story.

That very day that we left;

she walked 1 mile across the nature preserve next to us with her seven ducklings

To my friend Lynn Conrad’s pond.

(the babies cannot fly until they are 52 days old , minimum)

  My friend has the exact duck house.  (I ordered it for her)!

She called me to tell me a neighbor had called about 7 pm and said,”Open your Gate!!

There is a mother duck and 7 ducklings outside your gate!!”

She did and in they came!

.”your ducklings and mother are safe!!!”

Here are “our” ducklings in her pond!

She recognized the mother duck!  The same duck with 12 babies five years ago;  (I could not make this up) got scared at her pond…..and walked

across the nature preserve……down the middle of our lane….up our driveway and into our pond!

I called her; and she answered the phone……”do you have my ducklings???”

This is one smart mother duck!!  (we both recognize her…..she has an extra-long neck!)

When I returned;  my housekeeper and I went to see them!  I honestly was crying!  When I started talking

they came running!  Peeping like mad!!  They recognized my voice!  and the mother did too!!

It was truly a peak experience!

Just yesterday I spoke to Lynn……they have all just flown away….(they will be back to visit)

except one!  She said…”this duck is so tame;  if I sit down, it will sit in my lap!”

Thank the Lord these ducks were so lucky to have such a smart mother!  YIKES!!

Animals are extremely smart!

I am so happy they are safe!  They love the architecture of their duck house!


Here is the same mother;  (and she is the same)  with her babies safe and sound.  I cannot even tell you how happy

I am!!!

The mother is talking to me!!

They all flew about 10 days after this picture was taken!

Except one who is so “tame” Lynn says “If I sat down, it would sit in my lap!”

Now.  My job is to figure out how to get the “heart of the garden” back!

The water is the key and the heart!  The pond needs to be lined.  Carefully.  Then the only loss will be

by evaporation…..which is very little!

We have to fill it (once it is lined) with water brought by tanker  (we know and love those people)!

And the frogs (and I pray the turtles) will come back……and by the Spring..

the duck houses will be floating again.  My dream will come true!!

And the ducks can come back;  lay their eggs in the houses

and their ducklings will be safe again!

The happy ending that is most important happened. Thanks to my smart mother duck and my friend

with the pond and the duck house!

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21 Comments Subscribe to comments

  1. PP@pimpmybricks

    Oh Penelope! Penelope!

    Thank heavens for that. All sorts of smiling and tearfulness here, whilst reading this post.

    You’re right – animals are so clever. I’m always amazed by how we, people, continually underestimate them on every level. I think we must do it as a protective mechanism.

    I am sure you will have your dream in Spring, and your ducks, and I have no doubt whatsoever that the mother duck really is and carry on talking to you. Have you seen this? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Xp7M0_hdUE

    Jul 04, 2014 @ 5:15 PM

  2. Parnassus

    A wonderful story for nature lovers. Even knowing from the title about the happy ending, I was nevertheless on tenterhooks throughout.

    I hope you had a great Fourth.

    Jul 04, 2014 @ 9:46 PM

  3. Profile photo of Penelope Bianchi
    Penelope Bianchi

    thank you my darling readers. Lordy!
    I honestly could not take a picture for the longest time!

    I adore your comments!!!

    Jul 05, 2014 @ 12:16 AM

  4. Cheryl

    Hi Penny,
    I was astonished at the sight of your beautiful pond. I am in southern california as well, and I know the news talks about our drought, but your picture really brought our lack of water home. What a sight! But what is more amazing is your story of the ducks. Yes, no one could make that up! Mother nature (and Duckie) are amazing. How she knew to leave her “home” and return to your neighbors with her babies is unbelievable. I look forward to seeing your pond once again filled with water and wildlife. You are an amazing lady to have such compassion (I don’t know of anyone who would do what you do!)
    Have a lovely summer!

    Jul 05, 2014 @ 7:57 AM

  5. Karena

    Oh my goodness Penny, I can only imagine what you have gone through with your pond and duckling family. So happy to see the ending at your neighbors pond and that you will have your own lovely pond back for your enjoyment and that of the water fowl!

    The Arts by Karena

    Jul 05, 2014 @ 8:44 AM

  6. Profile photo of Penelope Bianchi
    Penelope Bianchi

    via email:

    OMG …I cant believe it . I am so happy to hear this happy ending !!
    I am sorry your pond has disappeared . I hope it comes back soon

    the mother duck is brilliant


    Jul 05, 2014 @ 1:15 PM

  7. velvet and linen

    I’m so happy to read about this happy ending!

    They are predicting El Nino this year. I’m keeping my finger’s crossed!
    Your property is so magical… I know your pond will be filled soon!

    xo xo


    Jul 05, 2014 @ 1:36 PM

  8. home before dark

    In the most sincere way I say simply: I love you and your world. Here in Kansas we are in the drought cycle as well. Our aquifer is being used to frack from kingdom come and I worry about the smallest among us as well as ourselves. Your mother duck knows who to count on when times are beyond tough—life and death—and I know she has picked well and wise.

    Jul 05, 2014 @ 3:04 PM

  9. Bethany

    Awww… this was so touching and heartwarming. I’m a little misty!! I love how much you love the animals. XOXO

    Jul 05, 2014 @ 8:05 PM

  10. Profile photo of Penelope Bianchi
    Penelope Bianchi

    Thank you! My mother taught me that wonderful word! A true compliment to my writing! (and I wasn’t trying to write well…..I was expressing huge emotion!!)!!! “tenterhooks”! (I think I got that right 50 years ago on my “SAT”!!!) Bravo to you!!!

    Jul 05, 2014 @ 10:34 PM

  11. Profile photo of Penelope Bianchi
    Penelope Bianchi

    via email:

    “It was a peep experience! I’m so happy they found their way…how amazing!


    (how funny is she? my friend in Carpinteria!!!

    Jul 05, 2014 @ 10:44 PM

  12. Profile photo of Penelope Bianchi
    Penelope Bianchi

    via email:

    All ducks happy, great ending!!!

    Jul 06, 2014 @ 10:58 AM

  13. Alison at The Gracious Posse

    That’s one smart mama duck. Migratory birds are so amazing. What a blessing that your friend/neighbor’s pond has survived the drought. I assume she has a liner to go along with her fabulous duck house. And how blessed is mama duck to have you both carrying for her babies’ habitat?

    Jul 08, 2014 @ 3:01 AM

  14. laney

    ..try and tell me there is no God…one who loves all his creatures…feathered ducklings and human protectors…praying with you for rain…filled to the brim ponds…and rainbows over all…blessings laney

    Jul 08, 2014 @ 4:31 PM

  15. Kathryn

    What a lovely story; one of compassion, survival, triumph, and miracle. We also live in Southern California and have an avocado grove. We are constantly worried about how to keep the trees alive and the fruit healthy. It is our livelihood as well as our passion to produce wonderful, healthy food. It sure is hard sometimes. We are all dependent on others and the fates to help us (in my case, God), and it’s fantastic when it all works out. Kudos to the mama duck. And to you, wonderful lady, for your caring and your willingness to invest so much effort and money to shore up the duck family. Carry on….we will survive. I’m with Brooke Giannetti; hoping El Nino comes next year!

    Jul 08, 2014 @ 9:36 PM

  16. tara dillard

    Too much. Drama.

    Yes, I know tears over these things.

    More, since having chickens, I know how smart they are. Which is a total ache in my heart/intellect about how we raise chickens for processing.

    Can barely go thru the grocery isle where chicken is for sale. I hear their souls in the silence they now have.

    Your ducks doing all my chickens do. My alpha chicken loves the bottoms of her feet rubbed. She loves walking on my bare feet when I’m near her. She loves me to pet her and be in my lap.

    Isn’t it always the way, leaving home when drama is in action and you’re needed.

    XO T

    Jul 10, 2014 @ 7:02 AM

  17. Joni Webb

    p: birds ARE smart – so smart it is scary!!!! and weird! glad your ducklings were saved – can’t believe you can’t water – i would !!! how would they know? and even if you did use the water, what would they do ? Jail you??? haha. ok – don’t go to jail, but – i would sneak watering.

    Jul 15, 2014 @ 11:28 PM

  18. Penelope Bianchi

    Wonder of Wonder!!!

    As the workmen were digging carefully all the awful mud at the bottom of the pond; they found a turtle!! Alive!!

    We took it over to my friend’s where the ducks went!


    Jul 17, 2014 @ 5:23 PM

  19. Michele @ Portlandia Vintage

    You are the dearest soul. No wonder the ducks love you so. Such a dear story that will stay with us all. The water in the West is such a serious matter. You are seeing personally how it the drought affects wildlife.

    Aug 06, 2014 @ 6:48 PM

  20. Profile photo of Penelope Bianchi
    Penelope Bianchi

    Thank you! How true! It is heartbreaking!

    Aug 09, 2014 @ 12:14 PM

  21. Julia Johnson

    The drought in California is dire — last week I had dinner in Cambria, not far up the coast from Santa Barbara. When our table asked for water, we were told by our server that they were not allowed to serve tap water, but could sell us bottled water at a nominal price. She went on to explain that Cambria is nearly out of water, and the local govt has told restaurants that they can provide restrooms to their customers or they can serve water — but not both. They went with the restrooms, and are selling bottled water at a financial loss to the restaurant.

    Sep 25, 2014 @ 1:23 PM


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