Late Winter Musings at a Country Inn

Maybe it's cabin fever or maybe it's simply having some time on my hands in between projects here at Orchard House. Either way I've been amused by a few things around the property lately. First is Ron the owl. Ron is a plastic decoy that joined the farm last spring when we lost one of our prized egg laying hens to a hawk. Ron was purchased and placed out on a fence post bordering the chicken yard. It seemed to work well. After my daughter did some more research, we found that if we moved Ron every couple of days to a new fence post, and rotated him a bit, that he worked quite well at keeping the hawks away.


It's been a rough year for Ron however. Several storms have knocked him from his perch, resulting in scratched eyes, dulled paint, and finally a missing ear. At first, it didn't seem to matter, as if the hawks were thinking “Dang, that is one seriously tough bird, we had better stay away”  But then, we noticed a pair of hawks hanging near the back barn. I dutifully ran out and moved Ron to a more prominent fence post, then went in to watch the drama unfold. One hawk flew to a nearby tree, the other flanked it by sitting on a post in the far pasture. Then it moved to tree but further up. Both looking at Ron and then the yard. The first hawk swooped low over the grass and landed abruptly on the fence post right next to Ron. It looked him over, then flew off. Ron, obviously, didn't move. I'm not sure if the scary appearance of Ron up close was enough to scare it, or if the hawk was simply laughing too hard and wanted to share it with their mate. Either way, I think it's time for Ron 2.


In the other field, the goats and sheep have been complaining daily that they are hungry, despite the hay, minerals and occasional treats. I always toss an additional flake over the fence in the main pasture so that Larry, the black sheep, can have something to eat without all the fuss. Of course he usually only gets a couple of minutes before the others come out and eat at his pile. The funny thing is that when there is snow on the ground, the goats and sheep will all follow each other. Even if it's only an inch think, they will form a line and walk in step. As I walked to the barn, I saw the lead goat, No Ears, stop and watch me to make sure I was indeed going to the barn to feed them. All of the other goats behind her stopped and waited for her to continue. They didn't go around her, or deviate from the line. I always find this herd mentality amusing. To top it off, as I was walking back up to the house, I noticed that I was making my own trails, not deviating from my path by more than a half step, even though it wasn't the straightest path. Creatures of habit are we.