The rains came

I sometimes think that WestWind Farms has a guardian angel.

The night following the last of unnumbered hundreds of seedlings being transplanted from the greenhouse to the garden, the rains came. It was not a downpour accompanied by lightning and thunder; it was a gentle rain that lasted for several hours during the early morning darkness. Silent prayers were definitely answered.

Being a bird lover and tree hugger – two things that I am extremely proud of – and having ample time on my hands, there is not too much that escapes my scrutiny. Similar, I suppose, to sneaking a sunrise past a rooster. But seldom does a summer day go by that I don’t see something which I was to date unaware of.

One of these past mornings, as Jennie my jitney and I scooted along looking at the 50 sugar maple saplings just planted along our back-lane fence, I could see near the hilltop a white breasted bird sitting on the top of the coyote-preventive barbed wire. At the distance I was sure it was a tree swallow, waiting to catch the flying insects stirred by the browsing flock of Boer meat goats as they collectively moved past, but it was not. Getting closer it was the slightly larger king bird.

King birds tolerate Jennie my jitney – and I was getting quite close. On this occasion I was little more than 10 feet from where she was perched, watching me watching her. About two minutes had passed when she, ignoring me, flew down in a swooping motion and repeatedly fluttered up and down, while each time grasping the fluffy heads of a patch of seeding dandelions until her mouth seemed able to hold no more.

Knowing that king birds are not seed eaters I questioned for the moment what the heck she was doing. But my question was answered when she once again lit on the barbed wire topping the fence. She made no effort to retrieve the seeds that clung to the tiny parachutes.

My question was further answered when she flew directly to the one remaining hawthorn tree, now covered white with blossom, which had survived the tornado, outing the centre of the huge field of pasture. It was obvious to me that she was using it to line her nest high up in the leafy branches of this now beautiful tree.

Being a high-up nester, led me to want to go see the ground nesting killdeer’s nest out by the road side. On arrival she raised slightly as she had several visits before, but the eggs that were there had hatched. What I saw was four baby killdeer squatting tightly together, hugging the ground.

On pausing slightly too long to please her, she uttered an almost silent complaint, and splat, like a half cup of water splashed on the ground, they vanished. Instantly the well-known words flashed to my memory: some flew east, and some flew west, and some flew over the cuckoo’s nest. I focused on the cuckoo’s nest. It ran like a shot, straight about two feet from the nest and grabbing a dried last years leaf rolled over.

I sat there, quietly  on Jennie my jitney for perhaps two minutes, watching the area where the young had disappeared, and during which time I could hear the mother going through her broken wing routine as she crossed the road.

When a long drawn out call came, crossing the distance, a number of leaves flipped this way and that while four tiny little birds scampered chain-like tandem, crossing the road to their mother. She led them directly to a seldom-used farm lane down the road a short distance from our farm gate.

It is my hope that I’ll see them many times again, hunting for insects in our close by, well-rooted-up Berkshire pig’s pasture. It is the type of inland terrain that they thrive on.

Take care,’cause we care.



Barrie Hopkins