Thursday, May 22, 2008

Two Old Birds Battle It Out

With the absence of our white cat, the bird population has decided that the run-in rafters are an excellent site for avian condominiums. The woman is determined to evict them and I just stand and watch the show.

The birds, the black kind that seem to number in the millions, carry various twiggy building materials in and arrange them on a rafter. The woman rushes out and says "Gahhhhshooossssttttt" and the birds say"Ackkkeeeepbleee". Then the woman fetches the broom and waits till they return and they repeat the process. Then she gets the hose and blasts the twigs out the door. Then all the soggy stuff left up there falls on her person, causing more sound effects and some rather questionable language. Highly amusing except she then says "Sheaffer, why can't you just chase those things out of here?!" Do I look like some sort of security guard or bird bouncer? I mean, really, there are limits.

At our last place we had several families of avians called Swallows who built mud nests all over the barn. She must have liked those better, because she let them stay. I was very careful with the offspring when they were learning to fly and never hurt one, only gently huffed on them when they landed in my stall. When the second or third batch of the summer were ready, they gathered in huge groups and discussed their flight plan back down south. Then I had to keep my ears low going in the door or risk a nasty collision.

One spring a lone male Swallow appeared and landed on the wire right above the crossties while the woman was grooming Doc. She welcomed him back and he sat there, within arm's reach, chattering away in bird-speak while grooming his glossy feathers. We were all wondering where the "missus" was when she flew in and there was a touching reunion of the couple. Then she went to inspect the nest and flew into a fury. It seems he was sent on ahead to "open up the cottage" and all he'd done was loll about and visit. Well! He began frantically cleaning the nest and bringing in new material while she sat at the side and continued to express her thoughts about handsome males who think they don't have to help out on the home front. He carried on till long after dark, when she finally let him sit on the ledge next to her, but she kept her back firmly turned to him. He worked hard till the first batch arrived and then got distracted with teaching them to fly and playing games with them and at that point she gave up and raised batch two without much help. The humans quite enjoyed the pagent and declared him a case of "arrested development".

I await new developments in our rafters. So far it's a draw.


Anonymous said...

Venerable Sheaffer -

Fred and I are new to this bird game but - being virtual prisoners - we have plenty of time to contemplate the avian world. Our swallows have taken up residence inside the barn, causing the fat lady some consternation because they poop on the stall fronts. She has threatened to make a screened door for the barn but somehow it never materialized. Now that several pairs of swallows and a flitty phoebe have taken up residence, this is unlikely.

This place is infested with birds - not just in the stable but robins in the back porch of the barn, swallows back and front and in the workshop.

And let me talk about chickens! Fred and I were a bit puzzled by these giant bird creatures, particularly Felix, the cock, who is large, black and loud. Between Fred and Felix, it's a wonder the neighbours don't call the cops.

I did my best to chase the chickens (and the cat, and the dog, and the fat lady) out of the barnyard but the FL has made it clear that the chickens stay.

My advice to you - don't stand under those noisy black birds - they'll poop on your head for sure.

billie said...

We had our first batch of barn swallow babies this spring. Keil Bay (big Hanoverian horse fellow) found it quite amusing to bang his knee on the stall door and listen to the babies squeal in response.

Sheaffer, I need to make a confession. I saw an ad on our local horse forum today titled "Mini Mule Needs Help."

I am having the most terrible impulse to answer it.

I need wise counsel.

ponymaid said...

billie - if you yearn for a life of chaos and destruction, by all means go ahead! Mind you, Rafer is young enough to have a fighting chance. Please keep us posted...

billie said...

LOL - I am not yearning for that consciously but perhaps an underlying desire for some excitement is bubbling up... :)

billie said...

Oh my - TJ is looking very very intense in that new photo!

It turns out the mini mule is a molly mule - whatever that means, but it sounds like she is bigger than a mini. 11 hands.

She has a number of lonely people vying for her, and there is no question she will be out of the bad situation she's in come Saturday morning.

So... chaos and destruction evaded, for now.


robert5721 said...

a molly means that the horse was the mom, a hinny means that the donkey was the mem. TJ obviously got the raw end of that deal with the horse mom. His picture looks like the monster in a stephen king movie that slimes out of a wall and starts eating things, like people and horses and dogs and cats....that look would engender fear in an anti terrorist squad of marines. I commiserate with you, just keep smiling, as the wall monster might just get HIM before too long. evil brings that type of thing back to life to feed on
Mr Gale

Anonymous said...

The lovely Annie and Chris have registered for the Al Humphrey Memorial Ride as part of TEAM SHEAFFER. We urge all Sheaffer fans to do the same - we can wear My Excellence Confuses You T-shirts and generally act badly.
Cheers, F&G

ponymaid said...

billie - you have been spared. Mind you, a female version of TJ might be marginally better. Hard to say - if it didn't have mule ADD it could almost be bearable...lord, what am I saying...

Mr. Gale - I believe there were Cujo and Christine the Car - I see what you mean - TJ the Terror could make Stephen King an even richer man.

Fred and Ginger - anyone wearing my tee shirts must behave themselves with dignity and decorum. Otherwise they will be uncermoniouly ripped from their person - like having the epaulets snipped off your uniform. I have my doubts about those women and horses heading out on a trek - too easily distracted and prone to rubber-necking.

Gale said...

There's just no fighting the birds, no matter the species. Picture half a dozen guinea hens perched on rafters directly above the hay feeder. Then there was Ivy, the minidonk, who slowly emerged from the barn with a chicken lounging on her back. Imagine a bantam hen with 10 teensy, tiny babies underfoot who can walk without fear under and around donkeys and know her babies will be safe. Enter stage left, a solitary cow....SPLAT! One less banty baby, how very sad.

Please tell your woman that birds (even the starlings) will eat the nasty insects that cause you endless scratching and many skin irritations. The swallows and wrens are to be encouraged! I think your woman will enjoy watching them with you. Just don't let TJ in on the show for he will surely figure out a way to terrorize them!

As for billie's Keil Bay, there HAS to be a story behind the name! Quite a clever trick, making those baby birds squeak....hmmmm, not bad for a horse, wouldn't you agree? And I sure hope the not-so-mini mule finds a good home. Please keep us all tuned in to this, will ya'?

TJ's new photos are spectacular! Well, I think it is anyway. I know what you think, Sheaffer.

billie said...

The little molly mule is in her new home, living with a nice older mare named Daisy. She has a new loving caretaker who has owned horses before but now wants something smaller she can shower love onto. I suspect life will be very good for the little mule, who is older (she was said by her previous owner to be 4 but no one thinks that can possibly be accurate) and quite lovely.

Keil Bay's sire was a German Hannoverian who was imported to the US many years back to improve the American Hano. breeding program. Keil Bay was named after an actual bay in Germany (he happens to be a lovely red bay color, so the name is fitting that way too).

His previous owner and trainer called him Keil, but I prefer a two-syllable name to wrap my mouth around. He seems to like being called by his full name, and really loves his nickname which is "The King."

I have to add here that the husband in these parts is saying words in whispers around Rafer Johnson that include "grazing muzzle." I do not think we need to go to that extreme just now, but the only thing I said in response was that "Sheaffer says those are torture devices" and he piped right down.

I think some time each day in the dry lot paddock (with the pony, who needs that too) with the other horses just on the other side of the fence will be our next step.

Gale said...


Thanks for the notes about Keil Bay...I mean "The King." (Actually, a Google search took me directly to you and not to Germany, how convenient!)

Glad to hear that the not-so-mini molly has found a good home with Daisy and a person who will treat her right!

Now, I am once again confused (doesn't take much). Is Rafer Johnson an equine of the donkey persuasion or a horse? I just want to get my cast of characters straight.

billie said...

Rafer Johnson is our nearly 11-month old miniature donkey. We also have a nearly 4-month old miniature donkey named Redford who will be joining us the end of August.

Keil Bay, Salina (who is Rafer's primary companion), Cody, and Apache Moon (aka the pony or Little Man) are the equines.

I write so much about Keil Bay he has turned out to be more famous than his namesake body of water. :)

Gale said...

Good, billie, I'm glad to hear the donkeys are catching up to the horses. (I love BOTH, but donkeys are extra special.) Rafer will be one happy little fella when Redford shows up! Thanks for the explanation of your crew.