William H.A. Willbond MSM, CD
A FIELD IN SAANICHTON
On Monday 25 June, I cut the field of hay in front of our house. It was 3½ feet high in places and was very, very thick. The hay in the middle portion had already been cut earlier in the week.
Normally, I just cut the small lawn in front of our house, the grandchildren’s fenced play area and the area between my brother-in-law’s residence and our back door. These lawns are short and not too difficult to cut. The field, however, is another story. We were getting the place ready for the upcoming wedding of our youngest daughter Bridey, and wanted the agricultural ambience turned into a clipped urban setting.
Making swath passes over the former septic field, I noticed rustling in the new cut areas and each pass caused more of the same. Before I was through, six or seven small brown rabbits had bounded for safety to the blackberry bushes at the side of the field. An eagle circled high overhead, however, obviously he had already caught all of the slow bunnies as he did not luck out whilst I was cutting
Each pass of the tractor would produce more scurrying and rustling in the already cut swaths and the crows, who are wonderful creatures of opportunity, were ready to fill their meal requirements. One old crow that is minus a leg, hops in that field all the time and it has been his territory for the past seven years. He feasted well on Monday. He chased the other black feathered diners away while he was hunting and when he left with a mouse in his mouth, the others were quick to feed during his absence. In that acre and a half there were, what seemed like, hundreds of mice. The crows feasted mightily and worked in relays, which cleaned up the field. Once in awhile, a nest of pink baby mice was hit and the squawking from the flock was loud as they made quick work of the wriggling pink mass
The old crow (limpy) oversaw the feast and stayed on duty until nearly dark and all was done. Yesterday he sat on a fence post and watched the bailer pass back and forth through Dick’s field – occasionally he would leave with a fat mouse in his beak. The little birds, swallows, sparrows and starlings etc, also feasted mightily on the grasshoppers and insects disturbed by the tractor and the mower.
My eyes were opened by the life and movement surrounding the pass of the tractor as nesting feeders took advantage of the field’s abundant insect bounty. The mosquitoes and no-see-ums were and are kept in check by the swoop of the purple martins from Dick’s barn. Without them, it would be terrible. I note the insect bites on the back of my neck and on my legs, proof positive that we need our feathered friends and their voracious appetites.
My thoughts are of St Francois de Assisi and Chairman Mao Tse Tsung. Francis loved the birds of the fields, but Mao (during the great leap forward) thought that birds ate too much grain, so ordered the slaughter of the birds in their millions, which resulted in a terrible famine when the insects multiplied in their billions and devoured the grain crops and everything else green in the Chinese countryside.
©Copyright June 27, 2001 by William H.A. Willbond MSM, CD