Something To Crow About

A black shadow crosses over me.  It’s early, I’m sitting in my rocker sipping coffee, and I look out the window into the cloudy Midsummer morning.  What are those crows up to now?

Ah, I see it, between the hoop house and the former strawberry garden, plucking the guts out of a mouse I saw Garfield kill.

The actual word for a group of crows is a murder of crows, and a small murder swooped onto the farmlet this month and has stuck around.  According to myth and lore, crows are all about seeing the magic in life.  They stir things up, and insist that you notice the coincidences, the serendipities, the mischief.

The crow sees me stand up and flys away with half of the mouse carcass.  It lands on the lower pasture gate, between the two fake Great Horned Owls we installed earlier this spring after an eagle might or might not have killed Blackie the Chicken.  Owls are a crow’s biggest predator, but these smart, magical crows know plastic when they see it.

The crow launches and flaps up the hill to the corner of the goat barn roof, drops the mouse and leaves.  This makes me laugh out loud.

I date the crows’ arrival from the cooked wishbone I discovered 3 weeks ago in the goat’s water trough — surely a magical sign heralding the arrival of the 32 Cornish Broiler meat chicks we are raising to eat.  Crows are omnivorous, too.  The crows are watching us raise these chicks, and all is going remarkably well.

Two week old Cornish Broiler chicks.

No deaths and the chicks now, at two weeks old, a quarter of the way through their lives, are huge and resemble ostriches with their large legs and feet.  The Bearded One likes to say they’re bred for their drumsticks.

They run and semi-fly around the new, bigger brooder when I come into the hut to fill their feed tray.  They are voracious eaters.  We refill their food tray a half-dozen times a day.

The crows hang around the goats a lot.  At first I thought the crows were here to glean the goat’s fleece for their nests.  It was a big surprise to us that the goats shed at all.  I thought they had to be sheared, or the fleece just stayed on the goat forever.  But no.  They shed it and rub it off on the fence where I have gleaned a bag full, which I’m going to try to sell.

The likelihood of a buyer seemed remote at first — it’s such a messy, dirty tangle — but all of a sudden I’ve heard of several people, including a woman who owns a knitting store up in Port Gamble, who might like to buy it.  Or at least will know what to do with it.  I feed the goats their dry cob ration and hay and head back to the house for a morning of inside work.

Later in the afternoon, I’m weeding and the Bearded One is up in the just-finished meat bird pen putting tools away, when the crows start screaming at each other.  “E — E — E— E —E!”  Short, staccato bursts of noise.

New meat bird coops. No roosts.

I read that crows are in the songbird family because of their voice box structure, but they don’t actually sing.  That’s an understatement.  They caw loudly.  Up and down the scale, all the while focused on that “E” sound.

The Bearded One and I both stop our work and listen.  “E — E—E—E —E!”  Back and forth it goes, on and on.  Urgent.  The Bearded One says, “ChimpanZEES in the TREES!” and I laugh hard.  He’s right.  It sounds just like an excited Cheetah in the old Tarzan movies.  We return to our tasks.

It’s been cloudy all week, the weeds are thick, and I’m starting to inhale the evening bugs.

“Do you want to see a sight?”  It’s the Bearded One calling to me from the barn.  I don’t hesitate.  What have they done now?

The Bearded One is pointing at something on the ground next to the goat’s water.  The goats stand nearby.  They don’t want it.  I open the gate and try to absorb what I see.  It’s whitish and about an inch wide and six inches long.

“Fresh bacon,” he says, and I realize he is right.  Clean, raw, right out of the package.  I couldn’t make this up.  I am enchanted.

“We’re saved!” the Bearded One says.  “Manna from heaven.  There’s something to crow about.”


8 responses to “Something To Crow About

  1. Oh, Christi. you are so much a part of the cycle of nature on your land. And if you come to Port Gamble with the goat hair, please let me know. I’ll meet you or if you can please come here to see me!

    • Oh, Sheila, the cycle of nature indeed…after I posted the blog this morning, I found one of the meat chicks dead. No evidence of foul (fowl?) play, but quite dead. Everyone told us we’d lose some, and we have. Life and death every day. And yes, a rendezvous for us soon! Meeting in Port Gamble could be fun…but also coming to Port Townsend to see your wonderful garden…let’s meditate on it and be in touch.:)

  2. Crows are incredibly clever birds. We have Australian Ravens here and they pinch any eggs that our wayfaring hens lay out in the shrubbery on Serendipity Farm. Good luck to them I say! Hey…maybe they are looking for something to go with that bacon! Now all they need is someone in the U.K. with a bbq and they will be A.O.K. 😉

    • I read that ravens are bigger than crows, and their tail feathers make more of a point, whereas as a crow’s are more square. I think all of ours are crows, but I’m sure they are capable of egg pinching, nontheless!

  3. Christine Widman

    Here it’s Ravens.
    We have a pair that sit in our tall Aleppo pines. They croak, they garble, they burble. A very unique language.
    I love them.
    I had a most extraordinary other-worldly experience – actually communicating one on one – with a raven at the Columbia Ice Fields in the Canadian Rockies. Later…here…talking to a Hopi elder about this…I was told, “My people would say that the Raven is your Spirit/Totem animal.”
    In some of my reading, Raven is the guardian of ceremonial magic and healing. Crow knows the mysteries of creation and is the keeper of sacred law.
    I have always liked black birds.
    Ravens, crows, red-winged blackbirds, yellow-headed blackbirds, grackles, turkey vultures who have, I think, the most soaring flight of all birds and our Harris Hawks which are mostly black and hunt in families.
    So I make a wish on your crow gift-tossed wishbone:
    “I wish our B&B and your Farmlet are continually graced by the magic and mystery of the raven and the crow.”

    • Yes, Christine, I can see Raven as your spirit animal. The language dexterity alone makes it a good match. 🙂 Thanks for the lovely blessing, too.

  4. Christine Widman

    HI…Felt like reading one of your old entries so just picked an entry in a June year and voila – raven! My bird totem. I remember the very vocal & intriguing black myna birds in Oahu.
    I’m still wishing us magic and mystery by the grace of nature.
    Love you.

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