Farm Life · Farmtastic Stories

Spring Is for the Birds

So I think it’s safe to declare that spring has sprung around the farm. (Oh Lord, please don’t fail me now.)  And let me just say after this winter with the ice and freezing temperatures, me, Cowboy, and all of the critters are singing a glory hallelujah to that.

One of the best indicators that spring has arrived is our annual welcoming of the hummingbirds.  They arrive at the end of March and drink generously from our feeders until October.  It’s the time of year when sugar is on our grocery list every week.  The local checkout clerks must think I am a baking fool.

With the arrival of the hummingbirds also comes one of our challenges.  Hummingbirds in the barn.  Inevitably, one, or heaven forbid two, will flutter in. The problem, as Cowboy has discovered with much research, is that when they panic they fly up.  Which is precisely where they cannot get out of the barn.  This results in numerous antics, as we move equipment and other stuff out of the way to make a clear path and hang a feeder right outside the door.  You can imagine how this thrills Cowboy, but let me assure you he is out there trying just as hard to save the little buggers as I am.

And if we can’t get the little guys to leave on there own, they will eventually run out of steam and gracefully flutter to the ground.  The challenge then becomes do we see it before Nightmare the barn cat.  I’m sad to say he’s beat us to it a couple of times in the past, and proudly presented us with his latest find.  Not fun, not fun at all.

But tonight was a great night for the first hummingbird-in-the-barn of the season.  Cowboy and I cleared out the barn, hung the feeder, and sat and waited. We watched as he flitted from light fixture to light fixture and then finally wore his little self out.  We sprinted to action, and I quickly scooped him up, much to Nightmare’s displeasure.

It’s an amazing experience to hold one of these tiny creatures in your hands.  I took him outside to the feeder and gently pushed his little beak into the feeder, then watched as he drank and drank.  He finally started to get his strength and gripped his tiny toes around the perch, and I could feel his body warm up.  And then it happened.  He sat there, turned and looked at us as if to say, “Thanks dear friends.  Much obliged.”  (In my mind they have very good manners.) And then flew off to meet his other hummingbird pals whizzing and whirring around the variety of feeders.

Cowboy and I smile at these moments because in some small way, you feel like you made a difference.  May you all get your chance to feel the wonder of the hummingbird this spring.

P.S.  You know your man is a gentle soul when you see him on ladders waving brooms and such in an effort to shepherd a hummingbird to safety.  Truly blessed here at the farm.

Critter Stories · Farmtastic Stories

Cat TV

We’ve got animals galore here at the farm.  There are those that are our pets, and those that are volunteer farm critters like deer, jack rabbits, and birds.  And whether you are a pet or a volunteer at the farm, we try to keep you happy.  (I’m convinced that the animals are spreading the word that our little farm is the best place to hang out – there’s good grub, fresh water, and the people love you!)

One of our favorite volunteers is the hummingbird.  And it’s suffice to say that over the last couple of years we have become a hummingbird destination, think Club Med for those little guys.  They start arriving in late March and hang with us all the way into October.

We go through bags and bags of sugar as we make hummingbird nectar, or as Cowboy calls it “hummer juice,” by the gallon.  Sometimes those little buggers will go through eight cups a day. And you know how small a hummingbird is, right?

We’ve learned that dawn and dusk are their favorite times to flock to the feeders, and since we love a good show, we’ve hung the feeders in front of our living room windows. It’s relaxing to just sit on the sofa with a glass of tea and watch the myriad of hummingbirds come and go.  We’ve got all kinds – some are green, some have purple necks, and some have red necks.  Some are rounder and a little frazzled, and since I identify with that description myself, those little guys are my favorites.

But if you’ve been following my posts, you know that we have cats galore as well, some might even say a cat-splosion has occurred at the farm.  And because I am a neurotic pet owner, I have a fair amount of them inside, for example Shadow and her three boys (Chip, Grizzly, and Bear).  When Cowboy and I put the hummingbird feeders up, it was primarily for our enjoyment, but what we failed to realize is that we essentially created the farm TV network for cats.

Cat Photo - Shadow, Chip, Grizzly and Bear
Cat TV – Shadow and crew are tuned into the hummingbird show.

So every evening you can see the cats gather in the window, chirp and coo, stalk and perch as they watch the hummingbirds. Sometimes it’s like they are watching a well coordinated tennis match as heads bob to and fro.  And the occasional sassy hummingbird will hover just outside the window at eye level with their cat audience as if to say, “Look at me. Aren’t I adorable?  Wouldn’t I make  the most delicious snack?”

So maybe that means we created the Food Network for cats?