Story of the Duck House!!!

by Posted On

WHEW!!!   You haven’t heard from me in a while.   We had a duckling disaster!!

Six baby ducklings hatched in our duck house.  Last Spring we had nine at the end of March, four in July, and nine again in August, all of whom got as big as their mother;  and off they flew after 53 days!

This year, April 19 they hatched;  and the first night, It poured rain like I have never seen here!

The next day I could see only two ducklings;  and I was beside myself!

More rain;   and no ducklings!

I had no idea that the wood chips had become soaking wet; and the poor mother duck was trying to keep her ducklings warm;  and she couldn’t!!

This is the repaired old duck house;  and the new duck house from South Carolina!!!  Today the new one went into the pond!


Here are all the adult ducks who return to where they hatched! This was taken two months ago!!

These were the two left the next day;   the next day, none !  I was devastated!!!!

Here is the mother on top of the duck house!!!

I was so devastated and felt so guilty!!!!  We pulled the duck house to the shore, buried the baby ducklings, (our gardener was almost in tears;  and I WAS in tears!

My housekeeper’s husband also stayed up all night fixing the leaking duck house;  adding more wood to lift it up; and waterproofing all the seams.  I thought back the last twelve years;  this had never happened !

It very rarely rains here during this time. He had it back ; repaired and floating in two days with fresh chips!

I spent the entire night”  googling” “Floating duck house”  and my HERO appeared!!

Meet Winston Brown and his lovely wife Linda!

 I found online LWB Creations, and wrote him the whole story;  tears streaming down my face!

He makes floating duck houses!!


 He called me the next morning with the most wonderful Southern accent you have ever heard.  He said, “Penelope, you are distressed!!

I make these myself;  and I am making one for a man in Louisiana who is  ” not in distress”  and I can have it to you next week!!!

Fabulous!  What a hero!!!

And floating swan or geese platforms!!  I have never been so pleased to find something so quickly!!

There was only one fly in the ointment!  The truck it came in  was too tall do  come down our lane………so, quick like a bunny my assistant and I rented a moving truck and picked up the beautifully crated duck house in a parking lot.

My assistant ,Gilda insisted that our grandchildren see their “Granny” can drive a big TRUCK!!!

Here it is!  It is beautifully made, even packed with the chips!!  The lid is hinged;  there is a wonderful ladder, and today it went into the pond!!

Our gardener and our housekeeper got it floating today!!

The repaired duck house already has a female sitting on eggs!  I think it won’t take long for another one to find the new house!!!

A female is sitting on eggs in this house!

And my next surprise;  is that Winston Brown’s wife paints the most beautiful portraits of dogs, chickens, and houses!!!

All you have to do is send her a photograph!  She captures the personality of the animals!!

LWB Creations

Here is a beautiful rooster!

Winston makes all kinds of birdhouses, platforms, and what beautiful work!  And Linda does my favorite pet portraits ever!!

Thank you Winston and Linda!!!

27 thoughts on “Story of the Duck House!!!

  1. Garden, Home and Party

    Oh, Penelope, what a story. I was nearly in tears just thinking of the whole thing. How heartbreaking to lose the sweet ducklings. Now that you have the duck mansion, happiness on Penelope’s pond is restored. Can’t wait to see the images of the new babies once they hatch.

  2. Tracey Jackson

    What a story!! I love you in that U-Haul and I love the new house.
    I’m so sorry for the loss of the baby ducks. But how heroic that mother
    was and the instinct to care for your offspring so profound in almost all beings.
    I am very moved by this and love your new floating house.
    It looks like it could be in Thailand.
    You will have the happiest ducklings around.
    xoxo Tracey

  3. Sarah

    your tale is both sad and sweet and I understand how badly you must have felt. We had our own bird tale this week that didn’t turn out well and I also feel just terrible about it.
    We found a baby blue jay in our backyard that was fully feathered and appeared to be fledgling. It was hopping around ok so it didn’t appear to be injured. The nest was too high in the oak tree so returning it to the nest was not an option. I quickly phoned the bird expert at our local pet shop who assured me I should leave it alone so Momma and Papa bird could help it, but if it was still hopping around the area the next morning I should phone and take it to our local SPCA where they rehabilitate and return them to the wild.
    When I went back out the next morning to check on it, all I found were the bird remains. I know it’s mother nature and all, but I still feel terrible about it.

  4. Dovecote Decor

    So sorry about the drownings. Your online find is going in my files. I am sending pics to my farm friends. Of course I am in the South, so there will be guns, but conservation and hunting go hand and hand. Posting tomorrow about the Reynolds estate across the street from my house. It’s beautiful.

    1. penelopebi

      Oh good for you! I get it all about the South! You must visit when you come again……and that is what I love about the South….they may shoot them…..but they want them to be able to protect their babies… there are more ducks to “shoot”!

      I have the most wonderful brother-in-law ( I have two) but this one was on the board of the Audubon Society……and he told me about the scary numbers of Mallard ducks survival rates…..I am really thrilled….(as Brooke pointed out) we have had an enormous happy survival rate….

      My heartbreaking thing has brought be to “have the duck house fixed” …..add another duck house…..and love every single day I live here! I love these ducks!

  5. velvet and linen

    Oh Penny! I’m so sorry to hear about your baby ducks.
    I know you must have been devastated.
    You are an amazing person with the unique combination of a huge giving heart and the strength to push through even the most heartbreaking situations.
    Although this was a tragedy, you should be comforted by the fact that you have protected so many ducks in the past and will continue to save more in the future.
    Sending you hugs…

    xo xo

    1. penelopebi


      You are the wisest and most fun person I have never known in my entire life!

      It is a fact!

      thank you!!



    2. penelopebi

      Thank you my darling Brooke! You do understand my whole thing with animals….and I am going to give you as a present for your pond in Ojai;

      a duck house made by my new best friend….Winston…..he is in Georgia……not South Carolina…he is my hero!


      That will be your “housewarming” present from us!!!

      You and Steve!!!

  6. Victoria Athens

    It is so sad about the loss of the first group of babies. How fortunate that found Winston to make you such a beautiful replacement house. And you are right, his wife, Linda, is a talented painter. Good luck with the ducklings.

  7. Jane Kilpatrick Schott

    Fantastic post…this is going around my friends. What a wonderful dream.
    And then…the amazing animal portraits. I am going to look through my photos of my beastie tonight and have one done. Thank you so much.


  8. Kathy Avakian

    Pure awesomeness!!!!

    1. penelopebi

      Kathy……you are the sweetest! Adorable.. You were here in the middle of this disaster…and you were so supportive. You were helping me look for the ducklings before I knew what had happened! Thank you!

    2. penelopebi

      Love you!!!

  9. Thoughts on Design

    What a wonderful roller coasting, tear jerking, heart warming story. And what a wonderful man you found. Out of the ashes of your sadness and misfortune such goodness and new friendships have been found.

    Life is good.


    1. penelopebi

      It was indeed; a roller coaster!

      I went from calling “Mother Nature” changing to “Mommy Dearest!!!”

      It is, in fact “nature” but I am proud and happy that I can protect these!

      and my hero…….(Oh….OOOOPS”) They are from Georgia……I have no idea how I got South Carolina!

      Georgia. He still has the best southern accent I have ever heard in my life. I was up until 4 in the morning crying and googling…..The phone rang at 8 am!!

      Winston had a duck house to send me……These need to be sent around….I have so many friends who live on golf courses….with ponds… They love seeing the ducklings…6 ,8, 10!

      And every day, more disappear! If they had the “floating house” those ducklings will live and fly!!

      Every pond should have one!!!

    2. penelopebi

      Correct! Love you!!!

  10. Heather

    Oh my–I am so moved by this story right on through to reading the last comments and knowing that you will pass this wonderful tradition on to Brooke and Steve! My oh my, you are quite a formidable lady, Penelope Bianchi!

    And ps. I too got a kick out of seeing elegant you at the wheel of the truck…

    1. penelopebi

      Thank you! That truck was “hard” to drive! Yikes!

      I love your comment…..and thank you!

  11. Kathy Avakian

    Penny, since you are Godmother to those ducks , have an especially wonderful Mothers’Day, you deserve it!!!

    1. penelopebi

      Kathy! You were here on Friday; we were having lunch when I was frantically looking for the ducklings……with my binoculars that are probably 25 years old!

      I got new binoculars! So we have to do the lunch again….same suspects……before the next ducklings hatch!

      I must have been a terrible hostess!

  12. kim porter

    Penny! How hard that must have been for you! I, too, love ducks so much! They really just quack me up! We only have three but they wander happily around and everytime I see them I just get a huge, silly grin on my face!
    I look forward to every post of yours, you really are a fantastic, joyful person!

    1. penelopebi

      Well thank you! From my heart!!!
      (I hope to add what I call the “fun factor”! A positive way to live in some very difficult times! When I started this blog….I kind of thought it would be mostly about decorating…….and it has just (like a stream) “followed its own course”! I love “having fun!” I have to show my going on “devil dive” two years ago with my 7 year old grandson and Magic Mountain! Sheesh…….that was fun!!!)

      Once again….I almost didn’t write about his …and then; encouraged my my wonderful assistant…..thought…..this is a “story of life” as it is!

      Not every day is a happy one! sometimes…..(not always) there are happy endings……I think this one will have one! Fingers crossed! Thank you for reading!!!

  13. Bette


    Thanks for sharing the good, bad, and the ugly with a twist of resolution to a situation filled with tears. Nature is our teacher and God’s plan was in place to bring more good from a sad situation.

    The ducks could not have said “we need more shelter”… but through a natural disaster you got the message resolved the issue and in the process (even tears are a process), receiving “more good” than expected: new friends, new artist discovery, more stories to share and “great lessons” all in time for Mother’s Day. Your are a blessed to be blessing huge hug.

    Have a great Mother’s Day!


  14. Renee Foley

    Penny….An amazing, sad and inspirational story…’re
    determination is incredible.
    You are truly a friend of nature,
    and a generous human friend too!

    Thank goodness for SMHS reunions or
    I would have never had the pleasure
    of “re-conecting” with you!


  15. Renee Foley

    What an amazing, sad and inspirational story! You are a true
    friend of nature and humans too.

    Thank goodness for SMHS reunions or
    we would not have “reconnected”
    and I wouldn’t have shared your
    experiences with nature.

    Keep up your wonderful work!


  16. a perfect gray

    Penelope, I enjoyed reading about your duck houses; if you can imagine – I had not heard of them before. I can just feel your delight in finding a true craftsman who made just what you needed. I’m going to visit his website and take a look at his work. all my best, donna

  17. Renee Foley

    You are a true friend to nature and human beings! How wonderful you found Mr. Brown….and I’m still so glad you attended the 40th reunion
    of SMHS and we saw each other and can now share our nature stories!
    The ducklings at Alice Keck Park Garden (the 5 survivors) are almost as big as their mom…we saw them today and they gobbled up the koi food we fed them.

    Keep up the good work!


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