Almost beautiful enough…Cricket & Tucker

Sabattus, Maine


As I learn more about Cricket and Tucker and their many adventures in Sabattus, Maine with Pam and her family, I find myself relating  their story to pieces of my own. I have a strong urge to somehow transform their journey into an adult novel but know that first it is a children’s book in the making. Cricket, a duck with a slightly misshaped beak was in line to be culled. It’s a deformity that one has to look intently upon to notice, it seems a stretch that it would mean that she was not worthy of being sold to a farm or as a pet. Still, having an unsymmetrical beak changed the course of Cricket’s life and in it’s own way would unexpectedly affect many others .

Jamie-Rae Brown

Color portrait of Cricket : Jamie-Rae Brown

Cricket is a soft and loving supporting role in our series. She is noble and kind and never seems to ask for anything in return for the support and strength she offers daily to Tucker. Her presence in the barn in Sabattus, Maine allows for Tucker, born with a genetic defect like Cricket, to exist. He was hatched with a neck that is unable to extend and is bent over. Cricket is his crutch, his leverage to move about to and fro, from the barn to the yard and provides him with unconditional love, wrapping him in warmth and support as he faces many challenges each day.

Tears formed gently in the corner of my eyes as I read Pam’s text describing one account of how Tucker would be lost without Cricket, that no other duck from any flock will accept him. Tucker not only has Cricket, he has Pam and her family. Pam is humble and would never say that her animals would be lost without her love and caring. She shared with me that due to her own struggles in life she gravitates to animals that are “unwanted” and are pushed aside as if they are disposable. Sharing these thoughts here, there is a lump in my throat and a heaviness sitting in my stomach. Is it possible that certain groups of animals and people in our world have become disposable, a population that doesn’t seem to matter or share the value of others. What makes certain animals or people less desirable or worthy?

As I begin writing the story of Cricket and Tucker, two undesirable ducks, I find these questions swarming and asking me to check my own compass to see where I sit with these matters of heart and mind. There were many times in my own childhood in which I felt cast off or on my best days, almost beautiful enough to fit in and be a part of the whole. What causes each of us to create these invisible standards for ourselves and others and why do they apply them to animals?  Cricket is a special duck who seems to be able to rise above it all.  She runs out to greet Pam or Christian, Pam’s son, when they come to the coop to feed the ducks or change out their straw. Tucker is slow and always last. He takes much longer to greet Pam and Christian but he never stays behind, he always makes the effort to be a part of the flock. Cricket lovingly waits for Tucker while the other duck have departed, long before he can get there.

While Cricket’s only difference is her slightly misshaped beak, Tucker is severely handicapped and is vulnerable to predators. Neither duck can fly, they are too big. Tucker makes a unique whistle sound with every breath he takes because of the position of his neck being in a constant downward slump since being born. He can’t lift his head or even stand up straight and needs Cricket’s body to help him stand up or lay down. Somehow Cricket knows that Tucker needs her to survive and she makes herself available to him, always sticking by his side. Both were born with a genetic defect which will prevent either of them ever being able to be used for breeding are finding their way through life with the help of Pam. If not for her saving them both from being culled their story wouldn’t even exist. Pam’s ability to love all animals gave the two ducks a second chance at life, at being able to be each other’s support and companion.

It’s this innate knowing, unconditional love and admiration that we are going to place in the heart of the Cricket and Tucker series. They are not the only animals that Pam and her family watch over in Sabattus, Maine. How could they be? As I begin to learn their names and hear their stories from Pam, the urge to write their stories into books for children grows stronger and stronger each day. This journey has just begun but it has already taken over my heart and I hope to do their story justice as we share it with all of you.




  • On Our Way…a special side of Cricket and Tucker

    Sometimes at first glance, everything seems normal just as it should be. We are accustomed to sizing up life and quickly placing each of its pieces into compartments giving us a sense of organization and relief that somehow we are in control of our days.  Yesterday I asked Pam if she could send me some information about Cricket and Tucker, her two ducks.

    I had intended on finding pockets of time in the store to write but was pleasantly surprised by visits from friends, family, and shoppers who were just coming in to check us out for the first time.  Throughout the day my phone would light up alerting me that I had a new text from Pam and as I glanced over would see that she was sending me information that I couldn’t  ingest or even respond to properly with people in the store. It made my heart beat a bit faster knowing that I would eventually be able to sit down and begin ready about how Cricket and Tucker came into Pam’s life and how she had saved them both from being culled.Cricket and Tucker

    When I first heard her use the word cull, my mind pictured  a lobster. I grew up working in a restaurant in Pepperell Cove and quickly learned about one armed lobsters that were used for their meat in lobster rolls. I admitted my ignorance and asked her what she meant by culled in reference to the ducks. My stomach sank a bit, I knew it couldn’t be a pleasant thing. As she described the process, the dark side of farming emerged. It’s the side of having a farm that mostly goes unspoken; when chicks are born with splayed legs, predators get into the pastures and barns, and animals become ill or hurt beyond repair.

    A beautiful sketch of Crickett  - Jaime-Rae Mason

    A beautiful sketch of Cricket – Jaime-Rae Brown

    Cricket was born with a deformed beak, barely recognizable upon first glance and Tucker with a broken neck.  As Pam described them both her eyes lovingly painted them in a way that could be nothing but endearing: Cricket’s beak seemed normal to her and Tucker reminded her of the hunchback of Notre Dame but she would never refer to him by the name not wanting to draw attention to his slumped over neck. As I listened to Pam unravel how she couldn’t let the two ducks be culled just because they weren’t perfect something caught in my throat. My mind began to wander as she delved deeper into her journey bringing the ducks home and taking gentle care of them as the grew from ducklings into full fledged ducks.

    As we sat and talked about Pam’s animals and the reasons she took them into her home, I couldn’t help but acknowledge the urge to write her words into a story and in that moment a new project emerged. Pam’s incredible journey of nursing special animals into a safe, loving space and her incredibly talented daughter, Jamie drawing them into memory. So here I sit in South Berwick in our new store sharing a new adventure of Cricket and Tucker and their many friends from Sabattus, Maine.

  • We’re On OUR WAY…a journey of love, hope, and the pursuit of happiness

    Unwanted and waiting to be culled

    Unwanted and waiting to be culled

    The magic of life often happens when we least expect it.  Out of nowhere, it suddenly appears and gives off the feeling that somehow it has always been there. Why should I expect that on a hot, humid Thursday in South Berwick, Maine, it should be any different.

    I left our farm earlier than usual and drove the short distance to our new store in town just off Main street. The girls were at their dads house and Max and Sophie had both stayed at friends’ houses. I pulled into the furthest space to the right and turned off my ignition. The heaviness of the August air met me as soon as I opened my door and stepped out onto the pavement.  I brushed a loose strand of hair behind my ear and grabbed my briefcase and keys.

    I’ve created a simple routine to opening the store each morning; the lights, music go on first and fill the store. Then I carry out the bright pink and deep red geraniums along with the open flag and old wooden deck chairs to welcome people in. I flip the open sign and place it over the bright yellow wreath on the door and then finally heave the white tent sign with our logo down to the busy corner to catch a passerby’s eye or two.

    I opened my laptop armed and ready for a slow day of sales, determined to psyche myself up to charge into bookkeeping and marketing. I had even promised myself that after I had gotten caught up in QuickBooks I would dedicate some time to writing. As my computer powered up, I talked myself into a large cup of coffee from Madison’s. It would only take a minute and it felt good saying hello to my old friend and new neighbor. I love cutting through the alley and simply  appearing on her side patio always walking up to customers having breakfast alfresco. Before I can even see their faces I am almost always greeted by the wafting scent of fresh maple in the air. It feels like I’ve somehow come home.

    After getting a freshly brewed cup of morning blend and saying hello to an old friend and making two new ones, I quickly stepped back through the charming alley to our store and opened the cash register and returned to my laptop. Before I could even get the program open the door alerted me to a visitor and I was off in friendly conversations for the better part of the day. It wasn’t till after lunch when I found myself sitting with Pam and her daughter Jaime,  having a conversation that would not only just change the direction of my evening, but curiously seem to have an affect on the next few months as well.  As they sat in our “comfy community chairs” we caught up on life since we had last parted and I was able to listen and get to know her amazing daughter who looks like a new teenager but is actually in her twenties.

    As conversations go, ours took an unexpected journey towards creating a story about their two ducks, two dogs, and cat named Homey. The idea dropped down from nowhere in between us and began multiplying, growing, and becoming its own living, breathing project. That is where I find myself tonight, laying in bed next to Kyle as he listens to Jerry and I’m typing feverishly to get everything out and down before I forget the many delicious details. A blog post already much too long doesn’t even scratch the surface of the magic that continued to unfold this afternoon born from a story of two  ducks who were to be culled. I can tell you that they were rescued and are living and breathing a beautiful life. Tucker and Cricket are their names and their story dark, horrid, and inspirational beyond words is still left to be told. I sense a new blog coming on…well suffice to say that I will be back soon to begin the story of Tucker and Cricket and their friends Sadie, Sully, and Homey. Please join us on this new magical adventure of love, hope, and the pursuit of happiness.