We've got a duck nesting in our flower bed. I discovered the nest while I was splitting some hostas.

Adam Soebbing

I’ve never really liked the landscaping in front of our house. The flower bed under our living room window is one giant mess of overgrown hostas, daylilies and weeds. So when MidAmerican Energy Co. made plans to dig up the bed to move a valve on our meter, I considered it the motivation I needed to remove the plants and start over.

But as I split and removed the plants, I uncovered a duck’s nest. Apparently, everything I hated about the landscaping made it perfect cover for a mallard and her eggs. I stopped digging immediately and called MidAmerican to request that they postpone their plans. That was no problem, but figuring out how to keep the duck and her eggs safe and secure was another matter.

After doing some research, my husband and I decided against putting a chicken wire fence around the bed. That probably would give the duck a false sense of security and encourage it to return to a potentially unsafe location year after year. Also, we’d have to keep an eye on the nest so we could remove the fence as soon as the ducklings hatched and allow them to make their way to the nearest water supply.

We did decide to put the plants I split and removed back in place for the time being. That way the mother duck would still have plenty of cover. That was a little bit like fitting a jigsaw puzzle together as I figured out which quarter of the hosta belonged in which part of the hole left behind by the root ball. Let’s just say my landscaping looks even more ridiculous than before, but at least the duck is hidden from sight.

But a new predator has entered the neighborhood: the 5-year-old who lives in the house behind us. She loves to help me “play with the flowers,” which is her term for helping me water and garden. It’s just that when she waters, she mostly hits the house, grill and patio instead of the plants, and gardening usually means pouring dirt on the dogs. She wanted to come over and “help” water the night my husband and I were quickly putting the plants back in place while the mother duck was away from the nest. We told her no, but before we knew it, she had hopped over the fence, run around to the front of the house and was eagerly looking at the eggs.

I told her she couldn’t get too close to the nest so she wouldn’t step on the eggs and that she couldn’t come to look at the duck again because she might scare it. But I think that’s like setting an ice cream sundae in front of someone on a strict diet and saying, “Don’t eat that, not even one spoonful.”

So, I’m going to lie and tell her the ducklings hatched and went to a new home. I never envisioned myself as the kind of person who would lie to children, but I think a little bit of untruthfulness might be necessary in this situation.