Barn Swallow Babysitter

Changing seasons and all the trappings that go along with them keep life exciting, albeit on the edge. Coming out of a long winter with temperatures plunging to -40 with -60 wind chill makes you think you can’t take another one. Begin looking for real-estate before the last snow melt. Knowing that parts of the civilized world are experiencing green growth and you are still under snow makes you long for milder climes.  Then comes the life back into the branches and soil and while others are sweltering in summers beastly heat, we are drinking up the absolutely divine weather, except for the drought, the not too distant fires, and the wind.

Considering that our lives literally revolve around raw milk, some of you know the torture our Jersey mama Elsa has put us through this spring. My dh finally solved the kicking… problems and she has settled down into a civil little mama. But alas all good  things must be challenged as we now have entered the mosquito and fly season which makes milking a challenge again. Elsa is jumping out of her skin and now kicks because of biting flies.

But we do have uninvited, most welcome, dear friends who decided to come back and help with this problem for the second year.

DSC_0056

Barn Swallows arrived and built some mud nests under the eves of our barn last year.

DSC_0047

It was then that we noticed the marked improvement in the decline of the mosquito swarms that plague us for about two months in the summer. Watching them swoop and feed is enchanting.

DSC_0044

This year their numbers have more than doubled and we are so grateful that they are eating so many mosquitoes. The little ones chirp and peep, demanding to be fed.

DSC_0042

But alas, a few of the mud nests broke and I found some dead baby birds on the ground. Two little babies were still alive, but pretty dehydrated.

DSC_0591

We have had significant experience with saving abandoned baby birds and raising them to be released in the wild. A few years ago a mama wren abandoned her naked pink babies in a hanging basket of flowers on our porch. We fed them until they were fully feathered out and moved them to a cage on the patio. We left the cage open and they would return and sit on us for feeding and comfort, coming back less and less until we would just see them in the trees.  When we have been able, we take baby birds to a bird sanctuary to be cared for and released there, but sometimes there is not that option and we don’t want them to die.

DSC_0593

We always keep some instant baby bird formula powder in the refrigerator for these little emergencies. We do mix the powder with raw milk instead of water, for the living bacteria, and for species of birds which thrive on insects instead of grain we also give bits of raw ground meat. It is a huge commitment as baby birds must be fed every couple of hours.

It takes about a day for them to get the hang of knowing you are now their mama and to open their mouth for the syringe.

DSC_0596

Natanielle is very good at mothering the abandoned and now the little cheepers will chirp and call her when they are hungry. They open their wide mouths to be filled.

DSC_0598

My baby is leaving for camp today for two weeks so I will have to be the Barn Swallow Babysitter. I’m nervous because I will not have her help for all of the other babysitting tasks. Ducklings and chicks everywhere, Annabelle is due to calf any day now, Lucy will have her piglets any day as well, which is a huge responsibility to keep those babies alive. I hope I’ll be as good of a babysitter as she is.

DSC_0031

One thought on “Barn Swallow Babysitter

  1. Pingback: She thinks I am a 50/50 babysitter | grassfood.

I would love to hear your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s