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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


3 thoughts on “Barn Swallow Babysitter

  1. Those are cliff swallows. You can tell by the shape of their tail and the shape of their nests. Barn swallows build open cup shape nests and have long streamers in their tails.

    • Thank you. I think they are such beautiful birds. It makes me so sad that many neighbors hate them to build on their barns, so they just smash their nests. I love ours so much.

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

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