Like most of you, I’ve spent my life with animals, mostly the garden variety of pups, cats, hamsters, goldfish, plus I worked occasionally on a dairy farm with all that entailed. To say that these creatures changed my life is an understatement. What I liked (and continue to like) is that your relationship is 100% based on how you treat them. How you treat them is exactly what you get back. So far, pretty straight forward…
Recently, however, stranger things have been happening. Up at CrossBow in Pennsy, Pamela noticed something was weird when I was on my Kubota digging a pond. She came down with coffee and said, “Have you noticed something?” I took a sip, mopped some sweat and said, “Huh?” She said, “The bluebirds are following you wherever you go…literally everywhere you go.” I looked up and sure enough, a female bluebird was on a branch, ten feet away. Turns out, she had made a nest eight inches directly beneath the tractor seat in a little cubby. At the time, I thought we’d just wandered into a weird bluebird.
Scroll ahead. Actually scroll south about ten hours to Asheville/Black Mountain/ Old Fort, North Carolina and things are different…sort of. This time, I’m moving timber with the Kubota and I notice even more birds escorting me everywhere. The single bluebird’s nest, which I eventually cleaned-out has been replaced with an apartment complex of four nests in that same cubby. Three nests of Carolina Wrens under the seat, plus one renegade who built her nest in the plastic bin for my socket wrenches on my welding table. Only trouble with that is, on occasion, I actually need a socket or two and WOW do I get a scolding! We worked it out finally but, for a while I felt like the Boston Bird Strangler.
It doesn’t stop there, however. We have also been deepening a big pond on our property. Actually, my friend, Rick Acrivos has been doing the digging with an excavator. He offered to lend it to me, but it turns out Rick is eight times faster, because he actually knows what he’s doing. We noticed that the two snapping turtles in our pond are fascinated with construction. Wherever Rick digs, the snappers paddle over to watch. And it spread to my Kubota, too. If I drive out on the island, Snappy and son come over to watch. Move over to the bank…and they’re there. Seriously.
We feed the fish, too and they are fast learners. Now, if we walk or golf cart over, the surface of the pond looks ominous, like something out of Jaws. Big arcs in the water racing straight toward us…maybe twenty or thirty of them and then it’s time to cough up the fish chow.
I’ve mentioned the crows before and I think we’re establishing a fundamental communications system. About 6:30 to 7:00 am, they land on a telephone line ten feet from our window. “CAW!!! CAW!!! CAW!!!” and then take off. Time to get up, mix the cracked corn with the birdseed and boogie down to their feeding station. For it to work, I have to do the triad of caws from up at the house, then halfway down and once more on site. Spread it around and when I look up it’s like Hitchcock’s The Birds.
Last week I made the huge mistake of parking my tractor next to their feeding station, then parking the golf cart next to it. Wow, you’d have thought I’d turned into an axe murderer. I moved the tractor. That didn’t cut it. Went back, moved the golf cart…way far away and after a bit of scolding things were okay again.
This week, we’re in the final stages of putting up Moon Dancer our tree house black schooner……which has somehow morphed from a desired 45 footer to a 67 footer. We also suddenly realized that set where it is, it’s the perfect stage for a bluegrass festival. Perfect. The only trouble is, we have seemed to acquire some stow-aways. Chipmunks, who scamper away as you arrive, but then chitter and poke their noses out when you’re up “sailing.”
And…did I mention the bear on our roof? He comes like the ghost of Christmas yet to come…mercurially, which is to say, wherever he wants to. Pam and I are very, very, very glad that the roof is still sturdy. I’m not sure how a 600-pound black bear would handle falling into our bedroom.
So far…….so good.