Canada Geese, a Heron And a Hawk

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More tales from the farm.

In coming days, we are going to have a pond built and some drainage work done to the two pastures behind the house. I say pasture. Potential rice paddy might be a better description. Where the pond will be built a very large mud puddle has formed after the trees were turned into mulch last fall. One recent Sunday morning, I was sitting at my desk and looked out the picture window to the pasture below. I detected movement in the ersatz pond, grabbed the fancy pair of binoculars I gave my Beautiful Mystery Companion for her recent birthday and peered out the window. Two Canada geese were floating in the water, while a familiar visitor, a large blue heron, was walking around in front of them. Pancho the donkey paid them no mind.

I grabbed my camera, got it ready to fire away, and quietly crept outside and down the hill toward these three fine feathered visitors. The heron took flight before I got halfway down the hill, and I fired away as it flew off, managing to capture him against a background of trees. It was a magnificent sight, the heron’s wingspan spread fully as he flew off to safer climes. The geese, clearly a couple engaged in a long-term relationship, paid me no mind. I was able to get to the

fence and capture them floating in the water. This is a major reason we moved to the country – to admire, protect and attract wildlife (except feral hogs). When the pond is built, I plan to install some nest boxes to hopefully attract ducks.

A red-shouldered hawk later was perched in a tree that is leaning over, near the future pond. These hawks like wetlands and are on the lookout for field mice, frogs and snakes. We have an ample supply of all three. A murder of crows often takes issue with the hawk invading what they consider their territory and will swoop toward him, cawing and trying to get him fly off. Often, he does, but on this day he stood his ground, clearly intent on finding Sunday dinner.


The following weekend, I tossed a pair of chainsaws in the bucket of the tractor, along with a Yeti tumbler of water, a couple of pairs of gloves and headed to the dry side of Pancho the Donkey’s pasture. We moved a new round bale of hay back there to try to keep him from having to splash through the standing water to get to the old bale, but he does it anyway. He brayed happily as I opened the gate and drove inside, two granola bars in my pocket. Pancho immediately starts hee-hawing when he sees one of us, knowing that almost certainly he is in for a treat.

I had taken my old chainsaw to the shop down the road. It hadn’t been cranked in years, since I didn’t have much need for it living in town. As I feared, the cost to fix everything that was wrong because of benign neglect – rebuild carburetor, blah, blah, blah – was nearly the cost of a new chainsaw.  I brought a new one home to go with the small, cordless one I use on small limbs.

I have a love-hate relationship with chainsaws. I love to hate them, and that antipathy is returned in spades. The brand-new chainsaw would not crank. I could feel my blood pressure rising as I pulled repeatedly on the cord, knowing this was almost certainly going to be a result of operator error. Finally, I gave up on the new chainsaw, resolving to take it back to the shop on Monday to find out what I was doing wrong. I then discovered the cordless chainsaw’s blade was now too dull to cut much of anything. I just dragged limbs into two burn piles, did some bushhogging in the back — mainly because I could — since the grass isn’t exactly high, then headed to the shop to YouTube how to sharpen chain saws.

It is not exactly hard, but it is rather tedious, one tooth at a time. It was now late afternoon, and I decided the best course of action was to sit on the front porch, drink a beer, listen to NPR, read a book and watch the blackbirds pecking the pasture in front. That pasture actually has lots of grass. Mowing season is on the horizon. A few trees are starting to bud out.

Spring is coming.

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