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 chainsaw 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 anymore.

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 leftover 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.

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  1. EODmom Coolidge
    EODmom
    @EODmom

    Oh. WOW. Frame that picture. Bless the bird that made it. 

    • #1
  2. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    I recently bought a DeWalt battery powered chainsaw with a 12″ bar.  It’s very light and maneuverable and sounds perfect for what you’re using it for.

    • #2
  3. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    I recently bought a DeWalt battery powered chainsaw with a 12″ bar. It’s very light and maneuverable and sounds perfect for what you’re using it for.

    Oh! Oh! I’m a DeWalt girl on the inside, and a Stihl girl on the outside. I have the Stihl battery chain saw, mower, weed whacker, tree trimmer and hedge trimmer.  And on the inside, I think I have all of the DeWalt 20V LiIon tools except the band saw, which I saw a couple of months ago and am already Jonesing for.  (Birthday in September.  Hint!  Hint!)

    I’ve always been a sucker for power tools.  But the newer generations of battery-operated tools have changed my life.  They’re not toys, they’re useful, and they’re easy.  WRT the weed-whacker, especially.  I find that I am taking much better care of the garden, because I don’t have to spend all that time trying to figure out why the gas-powered unit isn’t working, pulling the string, punching the little bubble to prime the carburetor, and getting myself all sweaty and out of sorts.  They’re expensive tools.  But worth it, I think.

     

     

    • #3
  4. Jules PA Member
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    Doddle. Becrepid.

    These should be added to the dictionary. 

    • #4
  5. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude
    @GrannyDude

    My husband wants a tractor so badly…

    • #5
  6. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    She:

     

    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.

    Yeah, my son-in-law came in last night from caring for the horses and said they went nuts over the fresh this year’s hay he brought in. They had been on last years until last night and I guess fresher is really better.

    • #6
  7. OldDanRhody's speakeasy Inactive
    OldDanRhody's speakeasy
    @OldDanRhody

    GrannyDude (View Comment):

    My husband wants a tractor so badly…

    Yes, it was very considerate of @she to include a picture of the tractor.

    • #7
  8. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    She (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    I recently bought a DeWalt battery powered chainsaw with a 12″ bar. It’s very light and maneuverable and sounds perfect for what you’re using it for.

    Oh! Oh! I’m a DeWalt girl on the inside, and a Stihl girl on the outside. I have the Stihl battery chain saw, mower, weed whacker, tree trimmer and hedge trimmer. And on the inside, I think I have all of the DeWalt 20V LiIon tools except the band saw, which I saw a couple of months ago and am already Jonesing for. (Birthday in September. Hint! Hint!)

    I’ve always been a sucker for power tools. But the newer generations of battery-operated tools have changed my life. They’re not toys, they’re useful, and they’re easy. WRT the weed-whacker, especially. I find that I am taking much better care of the garden, because I don’t have to spend all that time trying to figure out why the gas-powered unit isn’t working, pulling the string, punching the little bubble to prime the carburetor, and getting myself all sweaty and out of sorts. They’re expensive tools. But worth it, I think.

     

     

    I’m seriously considering a DeWalt weed eater.  After all, I already have the batteries.

    • #8
  9. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    What a nice thing to read after all the irritating baloney that has assailed my eyes all week.

    • #9
  10. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte
    @Charlotte

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    What a nice thing to read after all the irritating baloney that has assailed my eyes all week.

    Irritating Baloney…great name for a band.

    • #10
  11. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    The bird’s nest might be a robin’s:

     

    • #11
  12. Goldwaterwoman Thatcher
    Goldwaterwoman
    @goldwaterwoman

    As you describe the considerable physical work that you do around the farm, not to mention the indoor work of cooking and taking care of a very ill husband, I wonder how you find the time to be the prolific writer that you are here. Your posts are always enjoyable and informative and have gained you many fans as you surely must know. But, my main question to you dear @She is how  in the world do you find the time to  sleep?

    • #12
  13. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    Charlotte (View Comment):

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    What a nice thing to read after all the irritating baloney that has assailed my eyes all week.

    Irritating Baloney…great name for a band.

    I saw Irritating Baloney open for the Romantics in ’85.

    • #13
  14. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Lifetime suburban resident here, so I know nothing about farm living, but I am intellectually curious about farm life. And I have for 20 years lived adjacent farms.

    At a sheep shearing demonstration, the shearer said that the sheep in his herd reorder themselves in herd hierarchy after shearing. He thought somehow the sheep see each other differently after being sheared. Is that a common phenomenon?

    A friend grew up on a hobby farm with a small herd of sheep, but she had nothing to do with the sheep. Her father handled all matters sheep. She said she could stand at the edge of the field all day calling for them to come, and they would ignore her. But as soon as her father (their caretaker) said anything, the sheep would come running to him. That story gave me new insight into Jesus’ teaching that His disciples would know His voice. 

    • #14
  15. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    OldDanRhody’s speakeasy (View Comment):

    GrannyDude (View Comment):

    My husband wants a tractor so badly…

    Yes, it was very considerate of @she to include a picture of the tractor.

    It’s a New Holland TC29D, with a front-end loader and a backhoe.  We also have (although I may trade a couple of these for something else with my neighbors here soon), 2 post-hole augers, a log splitter, a post pounder, a tiller, and a brush hog.  This one, we bought new almost 20 years ago.  Our previous tractor was a 42HP David Brown, which I also loved, but it was a monster.  No power steering, and I practically had to stand up and jump up and down on the brake pedal to get it to stop.

    • #15
  16. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Goldwaterwoman (View Comment):

    As you describe the considerable physical work that you do around the farm, not to mention the indoor work of cooking and taking care of a very ill husband, I wonder how you find the time to be the prolific writer that you are here. Your posts are always enjoyable and informative and have gained you many fans as you surely must know. But, my main question to you dear @She is how in the world do you find the time to sleep?

    Thanks GWW for the lovely compliment.  Truth be told, I’m not sleeping all that much, or all that well at the moment.  But writing has always come pretty easy to me, I love to do it, and it relaxes me.  It’s also something I can do on my laptop, wherever I am, a few minutes here, a few minutes there, as I go along. I’m always grateful when it seems that folks like the results.

    For the rest of it–I guess, priorities.  (You should see the state of parts of my house . . ..  Or maybe not.)  And I’ve grown a lot more patient as I’ve aged, so that while I might once have expected to/insisted on getting something done or taken care of in a day, now I don’t mind if it takes me two or three.  Mr. She’s grandmother had a saying, “by one by,” which meant, “a bit at a time” and my own grandmother (who was highly organized) used to say, “I’m well forward.”  So I try to be somewhat organized, get “well forward,” and if I have to do it “by one by,” then I can live with that (and the rest of the world will have to, as well).

    Thanks again.

    • #16
  17. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    She (View Comment):

    OldDanRhody’s speakeasy (View Comment):

    GrannyDude (View Comment):

    My husband wants a tractor so badly…

    Yes, it was very considerate of @she to include a picture of the tractor.

    It’s a New Holland TC29D, with a front-end loader and a backhoe. We also have (although I may trade a couple of these for something else with my neighbors here soon, 2 post-hole augers, a log splitter, a post pounder, a tiller, and a brush hog. This one, we bought new almost 20 years ago. Our previous tractor was a 42HP David Brown, which I also loved, but it was a monster. No power steering, and I practically had to stand up and jump up and down on the brake pedal to get it to stop.

    Sounds like me learning to drive my uncle’s Oliver, except I was eight years old.

    • #17
  18. OldDanRhody's speakeasy Inactive
    OldDanRhody's speakeasy
    @OldDanRhody

    She (View Comment):

    OldDanRhody’s speakeasy (View Comment):

    GrannyDude (View Comment):

    My husband wants a tractor so badly…

    Yes, it was very considerate of @she to include a picture of the tractor.

    It’s a New Holland TC29D, with a front-end loader and a backhoe. We also have (although I may trade a couple of these for something else with my neighbors here soon), 2 post-hole augers, a log splitter, a post pounder, a tiller, and a brush hog. This one, we bought new almost 20 years ago. Our previous tractor was a 42HP David Brown, which I also loved, but it was a monster. No power steering, and I practically had to stand up and jump up and down on the brake pedal to get it to stop.

    I used to have a Massey Ferguson TO35, which looked more like this (most of the time).  Only mine had the gray paint scheme.

    Massey Ferguson 35 Struggles To Fill Up Waterhole ...

    I gave it to my nephew when we moved to town.

    • #18
  19. WillowSpring Member
    WillowSpring
    @WillowSpring

    She (View Comment):
    I practically had to stand up and jump up and down on the brake pedal to get it to stop.

    This reminds me of one summer when I ‘helped’ to spray the peach trees in my grandfather’s orchard.  I guess since my grandfather owned the farm, I was designated to drive the tractor.  It was pulling the sprayer which had two seats behind it for the two guys with the sprayers who were spraying the trees.

    The first problem was that the tractor-sprayer combination couldn’t turn at the end of one row to go down the next one, but had to skip.  This was hard for me to keep track of.

    The second problem was that I was too small to actually work  the clutch.  If my knee was locked, I could hold it in, but as soon as I unlocked, I couldn’t hold it back.  The result was a a series  of jerks which would drop the two sprayers off their seats.

    After about two rows of this, I was relegated to the role of sprayer and an older worker took over the job of driving the tractor.

    I think I could have managed with the Kubota I have now.

    • #19
  20. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):
    At a sheep shearing demonstration, the shearer said that the sheep in his herd reorder themselves in herd hierarchy after shearing. He thought somehow the sheep see each other differently after being sheared. Is that a common phenomenon?

    First thing to keep in mind is that sheep, like Winnie the Pooh, are “of very little brain.”  So, yes, when they are shorn, they do fail to recognize each other, and there’s always a lost of shoving and noise as the get themselves sorted out.  Nowhere is this more apparent than with lambs and their mothers.

    A few months ago, I wrote about about The Lamb in the Living Room, (she’s fine by the way) and we were talking about “sheepy conversations,” and I wrote this:

    “The most hilarious (hilariousest?) iteration of what the UN calls “simultaneous translation” of this sort of thing occurs at shearing time, when the mothers are shorn of their fleeces, and when, for some reason, the lambs completely lose what passes for their minds, feign madness, and completely forget who they belong to. At that point, I imagine the conversation as follows:

    Lamb:  Mom! MOM!! Where are you? Help! HELP!! Someone has kidnapped my mother!!!! BOLO!!!

    Mom: (Ambles over and nuzzles her baby.) You damn fool. I’m here. Right here. Patting you on the nose.

    Lamb: Get away from me!! What have you done with my mother????? MOMMMMMMMMM!!! BAAAAA!!

    Mom: Well, how about if I turn around and introduce your nose to my other end?

    Lamb:  Oh. Never mind. There you are. Where’s lunch?

    They’re so funny.”

    Here’s the photo of the living room lamb, sitting in Mr. She’s favorite chair, the day she was born:

    Just ran out and took a couple of snaps.  Here she is today:


    • #20
  21. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    Could that be a Wren nest?

    • #21
  22. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    Could that be a Wren nest?

    I wonder.  The cavity is deep, and it’s only about the size of a golf ball.  

    • #22
  23. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    She,

    Yeah! I can feel that sun on my face and that sweet sweet country air in my lungs. Beautiful sweet she. I wish I was there.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #23
  24. Goldwaterwoman Thatcher
    Goldwaterwoman
    @goldwaterwoman

    She (View Comment):
    Here’s the photo of the living room lamb, sitting in Mr. She’s favorite chair, the day she was born:

    Do you have a special fondness for that sheep since you raised it from a baby? I think I would, but I’ve never lived on a farm. I know I couldn’t even think about eating it.

    • #24
  25. Al French of Damascus Moderator
    Al French of Damascus
    @AlFrench

    I found a bird nest beside the road made almost entirely of horsehair. It is 3 1/2” across.

    • #25
  26. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Al French of Damascus (View Comment):

    I found a bird nest beside the road made almost entirely of horsehair. It is 3 1/2” across.

    Looks very similar, but without the dog hair.

    • #26
  27. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Goldwaterwoman (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):
    Here’s the photo of the living room lamb, sitting in Mr. She’s favorite chair, the day she was born:

    Do you have a special fondness for that sheep since you raised it from a baby? I think I would, but I’ve never lived on a farm. I know I couldn’t even think about eating it.

    I haven’t eaten lamb for years.   Years ago, we had about 100 sheep, and we used to take the lambs to the auction every Spring.  We have far fewer now, and really they’re just glorified lawn mowers for the pasture.  The rams and ewes are getting on in age, and we only have a few lambs each year.  The bottle babies do stay as pets.  I’m thinking of trying a few hair sheep (don’t need to be shorn), and see how I get along with them.  Cows are too big, unless I want to board someone else’s cows for the season, and sheep are about the right size, but the shearing is getting to be too much for me.  It’s hard to get shearers to come for such a small flock (more and more difficult to find them at all actually), so I need to find an alternative.

    • #27
  28. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    She (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    Could that be a Wren nest?

    I wonder. The cavity is deep, and it’s only about the size of a golf ball.

    Other birds do use dog hair, though this one doesn’t look like a typical wren’s nest to me. I saw a tufted titmouse once land on my dog’s back and make off with some hairs she plucked from Pepper’s back! At my house one year, I found a house finch nest in the ivy, and it had a red Christmas ribbon woven into the twigs. It was that thin curling ribbon.

    In one of my birding magazines, a woman wrote in to say she’d found a wren making a nest in her mailbox, so she took it out. The wren built another one in there the next day, and woven into it was a mattress tag which said ‘DO NOT REMOVE’!  She included a photo of it.

    • #28
  29. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    We have a suet feeder for the birds.  During nesting seasons, Lynda puts cotton in it for the birds to use in nest-building.

    • #29
  30. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member
    9thDistrictNeighbor
    @9thDistrictNeighbor

    This site from Cornell has some example photos and you can input some information to help identify your nest.  I’d guess that it is a Robin’s nest.

    • #30