Wednesday, May 7, 2008

ThingsTthat Flew By Too Fast For Comment

A cattle egret, solo, pure luminescent white, visited the farm one morning last week. I first saw it in the paddock north of the main sheep pen while I was doing chores. When I next looked, it was perched strikingly on the huge Japanese-style torii that separates the garden/sheep pen area from the wilder pasture. My understanding is that "torii" translates literally as "bird perch", so it is always a special blessing to see some magnificent large bird perched there.

While I was enjoying a rejuvenating, meditative solo soak in a friend's lovely outdoor hot tub late one night this past weekend, I saw a flash in the sky out of the corner of my eye. At first I thought it was a plane, glimpsed through the trees that are midway to being leafed out. Then the next sighting had the garage as a background, and I knew it was my first firefly sighting of the season. I thought a minute. Yes, it's May already, and fireflies are part of that season. I always remember this by a vivid memory of my birthday barbeque many years ago...30, in fact...just two housemates, two babies, and myself. It was a very frugal barbecue, a little fire of twigs in a small hibachi, a tiny bit of something to grill. My abusive first husband had just left the household, taking our car and most of our money and leaving us with not much food. But we scrounged a quiet celebration of my 20th birthday anyhow. We lived in a little hamlet of about 6 houses out in the Flint Hills, and beyond the yard was the still blackness of a pasture, shimmering with millions of fireflies in the dark. Their beauty was a wonderful birthday gift, one that has lasted for 30 years and still going strong.

Fireflies in May, yes, but June bugs in APRIL?!? I was dismayed to be dive-bombed one night while milking. One of those annoyances that is so easily forgotten from year to year. They seem to come earlier every year...I remember being surprised by them in early May.

I received my first mosquito bite of the season on Monday, just a few days after we put goldfish in all the stock tanks to control them in the larvae stage. I don't worry much about West Nile Virus, because I'm pretty sure I had a mild case a few years ago. A definite flu-like thing that went around the neighborhood didn't seem to be contagious within household units but seemed more connected with those who spent a lot of time outside. But I don't like being buzzed or bitten. My rule with them, in the spirit of non-violence, is "If I don't see you and don't feel you, you can have my blood. You bother me, I bother you." I try to swat them calmly and matter-of-factly, rather than letting them provoke me to anger/revenge/murderous thoughts. They are, after all, just trying to feed their babies by sucking my blood, and they are, after all, God's children too.

Many songbird sightings recently. Orioles are warbling from the treelines, a favorite singer. The other day I walked into the galvanized shed, expecting to see one or two wrens as I often do--they are nesting somewhere there--and saw FOUR of the endearing little chestnut-colored birds, wagging their stubby tails in the air. Another day I encountered an indigo bunting and his mate on the fence long the west sheep lane, near the neighbor's row of trees. They prefer margin areas, where woods adjoin open lands. There is no bluer blue in nature, other than tropical butterflies. This morning a purple martin did loops around the martin house, then perched on top. I hope they decided to nest there this year. I have not seen the starlings there, who usually squat in the martins' condo.

And--this SORT of counts as flying--I was startled in the basement the other day when doing laundry, by something plopping out of the ceiling joists. A half-grown black rat snake landed on salting sheep skins, to both of our surprise. He wandered nonchalantly off in the direction of the water pump and filtration system. We saw baby rat snakes in the basement last fall, we've sen larder snake skins, but it has been many years since I've actually seen a large snake in the basement. I'm actually grateful for their presence, because we've had a few mice in the house lately. The snakes can go where the cat can't.

Perhaps the most amusing "flight" this time of year is that of the lambs. Some of them are now 2 months old, and they are very frisky and agile. They love to play "king of the mountain" on the big round bales...this time of year, I'm careful that the bales are spaced at least 6' from the fences, or the lambs will accidentally leap over the fences from the top of the bale. Then who knows what trouble will follow! Right now I have two bales that are near one another...lambs will clamber up one, then leap to the top of the other. Then, just like children, they'll do incredible flying leaps off the top, tumble and roll, bounce onto their feet, and do it all over again. They never seem to get hurt in the process. This morning, as we watched the flock run out to their new rotational grazing paddock, we saw one lamb leap far into the air as it ran and do the most incredible half-flip sideways, then land on its feet again. They are amazing acrobats.

And now I must fly myself, back out to the farm to work on a dozen vital projects.

No comments: