Wildlife On The Farm

Baby Barn Swallows in the nest this morning.

I stood in the pole barn rubbing the bug bites inside Fanny’s ears.  Lulu pressed into her, waiting her turn.

Four or was it five, little heads peek out of the barn swallow nest on the roof rafter.  Their beaks take up most of their face.  They peer over the edge of the nest, their heads swiveling back and forth.

I opened the gate to let the animals graze, but it was too hot and they came running back to the barn.  Smoke from the fires in Canada obscured my neighbors, the mountains, so they were just a faint discoloration in the hazy sky.

I moved on to Fanny’s other ear and saw movement in the back pasture.

A deer stood on the hill, rusty orange against the summer green grass and trees. Then I see the fawn, not next to her, but running and running, back and forth, making long, playful circles around her mother.

Running like kids run, because they can.

As the fawn runs, a Great Blue Heron appears from behind the pussy willows that block my view of the pond.  Her wings seem to go on forever reaching out on either side of her long graceful body and her stick legs.

Then, right behind her, another Great Blue Heron follows.

That low to the ground, they look huge, even out of proportion to the landscape.  I watch as they gain lift, falling into that familiar compact heron shape.  The snakelike neck and slow pumping wings, as if flying is effortless.

The two herons float together over the treetops. They head towards the stand of dead trees in the old beaver pond where they might just have a nest.

I look for the deer and her fawn, but they are gone.

Lulu nudges Fanny out of the way, and I begin rubbing the insect bites in her ear.   I look up at the barn swallow nest, but the baby birds have pulled their heads back in.

Now the nest looks empty, but I know better.

I think of the frog in the pond that I haven’t seen for days.  I don’t know it then, but the next morning I’ll find a dead baby barn swallow on the ground under the nest.

The remaining fledglings will sit on the edge of the nest, their chests puffed up, eyes wide open, their beaks a little smaller on their face.

In a day or two they’ll be flying.

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