“Ducks are so funny,” I muse aloud, reclining on the mattress in the loft of our private little cabin. Outside, the duck farm is dark and quiet.
“Ducks aren’t as funny as cows,” Nash says. He lies next to me, very still. “Cows are funnier, funner, cuddlier, easier to take care of, and make better products.”
“I agree with you on all those points except for the funnier part. Ducks go like this.” I shuffle my shoulders back and forth in a waddling motion and make quacking noises.
Nash is unamused. “Well, cows walk in a line. That’s super funny.”
I roll my eyes. “That’s a terrible argument. Ducks are known for walking in lines! Haven’t you seen those duckling crossing signs?”
“Well, I don’t have to think ducks are funny,” Nash snaps. “You’re the one who likes them and it was your idea to come here!”
I sit up and rub my boyfriend’s too-tense back. “Woah there… I thought this was a silly fake argument. Are you ok?”
He’s silent for a while before fessing up.
“I’m afraid to go to the bathroom.”
It’s a sensible fear. To use the outhouse, we have to climb down the rickety ladder and into the cold. This part of the Blue Ridge Mountains is a designated International Dark Sky Place and the farm is strewn with random supplies, so it’s easy to stub your toe in the night.
But the biggest risk is that the guard geese might be out of their coop. They tend to lurk like dinosaurs around the outhouse with a cold indifference in their eyes.
You may be thinking, “What’s the big deal? All a goose can do is peck you.” Get back to me when a big ole gander is sprinting straight toward you with his neck outstretched. Maybe then you will understand what fear is.
To stop a charging goose, you must dig deep within your soul and believe that you are more badass than the goose. Then, you stoop down, throw your arms wide, and walk toward the hissing beak of death.
It’s not an easy thing to do with a full bladder.
Video demonstration of what not to do:
Nash’s trepidation goes beyond using the bathroom, however. He’s been on edge since we first arrived.
When we pulled into Duck Dance Farm, we didn’t know where to park. Nash was focused on not running over any waterfowl when a man came sprinting out of the house, waving his arms around and screaming “NOT MY HOSES!!! You’re driving over my hoses!”
That was our introduction to Andrew, one of the owners of the farm. Nash’s nerves were understandably shot, and we apologized for not noticing the hoses.
After Andrew breathlessly made sure we hadn’t done any damage, he showed us around the farm.
It soon became clear that Andrew loves his ducks.
He raises five endangered breeds, each with their own history and temperaments and care requirements. The largest ducks were the friendliest, and he greeted each of them by name and pointed out their individual personalities.
Around Andrew, the Big Bad Guard Geese turned into docile pets. The gander waddled over with a happy honk and nuzzled his beak into Andrew’s side.
“I raised this guy by hand,” Andrew explained. “He used to sit inside my jacket while I worked on the computer.”
The American Buff goose glared at us, about to charge again, but Andrew calmed him with a word. The bird was just doing his job, keeping the other ducks safe from would-be predators.
The other owner, Pat, invited us to try her duck bacon and duck eggs for breakfast, made sure what got settled in, then set us loose to explore.
I could have spent all 48 hours just watching the ducks paddle around the permaculture ponds – after all, my very first word was “duck”. To spare Nash from my obsession, we hiked to Roaring Fork Falls in the rain and through the wilderness around Mount Mitchell.
Back in the cabin on that second night, I turn my Kindle to its brightest setting and shine it out the window to light Nash’s way. He walks past warily, the Milky Way spilling over his head.
No geese come flapping out of the darkness, and he pees in safety.
When we drive out the next day, I pull over at one of the neighboring farms so we can watch the cows. Not everyone would put up with their girlfriend dragging them to an Appalachian duck farm, so Nash deserves a reward. And I have to admit that cows are pretty funny too.
- Unfortunately, Duck Dance Farms has relocated to New Mexico so Andrew can take care of his family.
However, the Asheville area and Blue Ridge Mountains are still a great place to visit!