Pipi’s Pasture: Where have all the blackbirds gone?
Awhile back, probably sometime in April, I glanced out the dining room window and noticed a doe (deer) as she tried to maneuver her way through the deep snow in the back part of Pipi’s Pasture. Apparently she and her last year’s fawn been down to the cows’ water tank, but instead of walking back on the plowed path to the gate, they decided to cross the snow.
As I watched, the fawn walked on top of the crusted snow, but its mother was too heavy so she fell through and eventually sort of leaped her way through the snow. Up and down she went, crashing through the snow and coming up again. I wondered if she would make it, but she did.
I had two thoughts as I watched the doe. First I realized how hard it is for wildlife to make their way through deep snow, let alone find food. Secondly, because the pasture was covered with around two or three feet of snow, I wondered if it would ever melt.
I needn’t have worried. As soon as warmer weather arrived, the snow melted remarkably fast — not overnight but a lot quicker than I could have guessed. The water seemed to go right into the sandy soil here at Pipi’s Pasture, too, leaving mostly the corral area to be sloppy. And as I sit writing today, the grass in the lawns is about ready for mowing.
So I hope you will forgive another column about the weather, but it’s nice to write about something other than wind, drifting snow, and having to cancel appointments. It’s nice to see some green grass and some leaves coming out on the trees. Even Pipi’s Pasture, that has served as a feedlot for some 20 years and was too abused for much grass to come up again, is getting green, and my thoughtful neighbor, Chris Miller, harrowed it this past weekend.
The mother barn cats spend their spring days hurrying to the house from the stock trailers parked in the pasture so they can get food from the pan on the front porch, and then they hurry back again. I’m sure there are several litters of kittens in the trailers. One batch of gray, black, and orange kittens has made its home in the rose bushes in front of the house.
This weekend my son Jody’s family from Vernal and I will go to Morapos to help my brother Duane (Osborn) brand calves and turn his cattle onto summer pasture. I have lots of wonderful memories of those springs when our family all gathered to do the same with our herd. Some years we had to worry about the ponds not being filled with water on summer pasture — not this year.
The robins, killdeer, yellow canaries, wrens and some other birds have returned. I saw a couple of hummingbird flying around the front window the other day, wondering how they could get to the red geraniums inside. It is their habit to stop in May on their way to higher country and then come back later in the summer.
One oddity, however. Where did all the blackbirds go? Each spring the elm trees have been full of blackbirds, and we all counted on the seasonal song of the red-winged blackbird to let us know that spring was here at last. This year I spotted some black-colored birds in the trees early in the season, but there were no songs, and I decided the birds were starlings. So I wonder where the blackbirds have gone.
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