This morning, looking out my window, I saw the cows turn and trot toward… what? The sheep followed, at a distance, wondering what they were up to. I wondered too. Cows rarely run for no reason, especially not the elder and otherwise less-than-optimally-agile cows who are down here with us, rather than up in the back pasture, for the winter. I couldn’t imagine what might be at the spot they were running toward or stopping to stare at. They didn’t seem alarmed, so I wasn’t worried. But I wanted to know. So, I pulled on boots and gloves, slid into sweatshirt and coat, and went out to have a look.
They were at the duck pond, which has been mostly frozen over in the recent frigid weather but which has a small unfrozen circle in which two wild ducks were swimming as three others—the same wild ducks who were here more-or-less full-time over the summer but have been occupying themselves elsewhere lately?—looked on. Cows Coco and Thunder were right at the edge of the pond, watching intently. Buddy had already turned away, his curiosity satisfied. Princess and Norman looked from a distance.
That was it, then: Wild ducks had dropped from the sky, and the cows—not having seen them for a while—rushed over to gape. The other day, I heard Aram say to Miriam, “there’s that cardinal again,” and she hurried over to catch a glimpse of a bird she hadn’t seen for a while. This was, maybe, the same as that.
After a while, the ducks swirled back up into the sky and away. Walking back through the barn, in which most of the roosters, ducks, and geese (not to mention Mama T) congregate on these snowy winter days, I heard the geese begin to honk with great and sustained agitation. I turned back to see what the matter might be and saw that they were breaking up a rooster fight. There are two new arrivals, young brothers, who keep squabbling with each other. One of them also likes to try to pick on other birds, though he is too small to do any harm. In an all-chicken flock, it would be elder roosters who schooled these young ones in the art of getting along. But we’ve got peacekeeping geese! The geese not only raised a ruckus but also physically separated the two roosters, using their larger bodies to walk the aggressor away, squawking as they shooed him.
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