Animals, Farming, Rural Living

The Nesting Instinct

I love it down here on the farm. Some days, not so much, it’s true. Mostly, those are the days when I start out with a handful of prophylactic Advil or Aleve, and then hie myself down to the barn for a day of shoveling, or perhaps sheep-shearing, or down the field with my little chain saw to cut up the tree that fell on the fence, or some other messy, back-breaking, usually quite organic endeavor that I used to think of as (what the Brits like to call) a “doddle,” but which, now I’m old and–family word–“becrepid”, somehow isn’t quite so easy any more.

Early this week, it was reorganizing the hay bales in the barn into a FIFO arrangement so that the ones that were “First In”–those left over from the winter–will be accessible to go “First Out” in November or December of this year. We had a mild winter, so quite a bit of hay left over. Got it done. (Yay! I can, still, just about, get the bales stacked five high–they’re about 50lbs each.) And yesterday, Clayton brought us 200 new bales, so the barn is full of hay. Cross that off the list.

Weekend upcoming is the sheep shearing. Really late this year, because of life, and rain. I’ve had them in the barn for a week, and managed to get one done last Sunday. But something’s wrong with my shears, and by the end of it they were so hot I thought that either they’d seize up, or I’d end up with third-degree burns. They’re 30+ years old, so they don’t owe me anything. Found a new pair online. Ordered them up, second day delivery. Yay! Again. They’ll be here Tuesday. Tuesday came, and so did my package.

Wrong item. Clippers, not shears (there’s a difference). Minor meltdown, because already on edge because, late shearing. Checked to see if I ordered the right thing. Yes. Regrouped. Called. Sorted. Shears should be here on Friday. Sheep will have to stay in the barn till I’m done. Weather forecast says rain every day until the end of June.

What? Better mow the grass then, STAT. The part that I don’t let the sheep eat, anyway. Get out the John Deere riding mower. Love it, although I really miss my little Snapper, which I bought second-hand on eBay. It was like riding the Jack Rabbit at Kennywood Park. (Excerpt from the linked article):

 It is most well known for its double dip element following the lift hill. The double dip produces strong airtime that makes the rider feel that they will be thrown from the seat, and a feeling that the train leaves the track…

Yep. It was like that. My granddaughter used to call it “Granny’s Tractor,” and giggle as I whirled around what passes for the lawn like a bat out of hell. Remarkable that I never fell off or seriously injured myself. (It was built before Ralph Nader came along, and whatever rudimentary safety features it had once had, had either fallen off or been disabled to improve its performance. I loved it.)

But the belt kept coming off, and it’s a beast to replace, so in the interest of keeping all ten fingers (we’re already down a digit on Mr. She’s account due to an “agricultural incident,” in 2005 or so), I retired Granny’s Tractor and bought the John Deere three years ago. It’s luxurious, with power steering, a keyed ignition, a muffler that actually muffles, and even a holder for my beer can bottled water. It has a 42″ cut, and ever since I acquired it, and even at my advanced age, mowing the grass actually is still a doddle.

So, there I was, riding around like the Queen of England, sedately on “Geronimo” (I know, racist, right?), when I had one of those moments. I saw something in Nature that is so simple, and so beautiful that it stopped me in my tracks, and I’ll be eternally grateful that I didn’t run over it and destroy it. (Nature takes me this way, sometimes, and I’m glad.)

A bird’s nest, on the ground, at the foot of the spruce tree. But not like any bird’s nest I’ve ever seen before. Barely three inches across, outside edge to outside edge, and a little more than an inch-and-a-half across on the inside. Carefully formed out of grass and the smallest of twigs, and beautifully lined with some of the dog hair from the two Great Pyrenees, bits of which are always floating around somewhere outside.

Whoever made it had the greatest care for her nestlings, and they must have been snug and cozy. It seems a little large for a hummingbird nest. But I don’t know what else it could be. Any thoughts?


PS: When I look back on 2020, I’ll probably think of it as the “Year of the Bees.” Swarms galore, and I’ve gone from one hive to four. I’ve always been a bit of a nervous beekeeper (slightly, but not deathly, allergic to the stings), but I’m improving, and have started to build my own hive components. That’s fun, and perhaps the subject of another post sometime. Bring on the murder hornets!

PPS: Happy Summer Solstice! I’m always reminded, on this “longest day” of the trip that Mr. She and I made to England, and the day we spent at Stonehenge and (just down the road a bit) Avebury. Avebury is another Neolithic Henge, but in this case surrounds the village. Once we got inside the stone circle, I tried to make a phone call (cellular) to my brother, but there was no service. “Hm,” I thought. “That’s odd.” (Unusual in Britain.) Once we left the stone circle, service came back immediately. A few years later, I read a post somewhere on the Internet where someone else had observed the same phenomenon. “There are more things in Heaven and Earth” etc . . .

I won’t be dancing, naked and widdershins, around the church tower at midnight, but I’ll raise a glass to my little bird, and hope that she and the babies made it out safely. Bless.


2 thoughts on “The Nesting Instinct”

    1. Thank you. Still not sure what sort of bird made it, the websites that “help” a person identify the type of bird that made a nest aren’t terribly helpful. It’s unusual in that it’s about as deep as it’s wide–I should think you could drop a golf ball in the cavity, and it would fit quite nicely. Can’t have been a very big bird, I don’t think.

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