I went down to the farm to winterize the well house, and found a few other jobs to do. I hung yet another set of Dutch doors on the hay barn, fixed a water line leak, and cut a bunch of volunteer trees out of the pasture—mostly Osage Orange and hackberries. The pasture is pretty clean now. It’s nice to look across it and not see a tree here and there, where there is only supposed to be prairie. There is still a number of trees around the perimeter, in the fencerows, where birds have shat out seeds, but I’ll work on them next. When I get done there will still be more trees than there were when I was growing up. The place needs a few trees to break up the horizon, but it needs a few less than it has now.
It’s migration time in this part of the country. Working in the shade of the old barn, I was witness to a nearly constant stream of Franklin’s gulls, heading south. They summer in Canada, then migrate down to the coast of South America for the winter. There were hundreds, maybe thousands, of them in the air, their graceful white bodies reflecting the sunlight and backlit against the blue sky. There were also a few black turkey vultures in with the gulls. I’m not sure what the vultures got out of the relationship except for the sociability. Maybe they were drafting. Or waiting for the weak ones to drop out. Which might not be a bad plan. Except that I read that vultures rarely eat during migration, using fat reserves instead. I have had trips myself where I should have done that.
There were periods of the day when there were no gulls visible, but when I would scan the far-off horizon with binoculars it was easy to pick out a few here, a few there, all moving south. The white-crowned sparrows had also arrived at the farm, where they will spend the winter, after raising their broods in Canada. This is as far south as they go. The resident mockingbird was still hanging around, apparently waiting for a cold snap to tell him to move south.
So, the migration proceeds, much of it invisible. No matter if the president of the country is a moron or my state has been bankrupted by trickle-down, the birds keep doing what they have done for eons, going north in the spring and south in the fall. It’s a comforting thing, in a time when little else is.
In other news, the pear tree which I planted last spring, is doing nicely. A little red hen which is part of a 4-H project, laid an egg on my workbench in the garage. I took that as a sign of love.