Blog: Reflections from Rural Route 2


Friday, May 28, 2010, 19:34


One evening Randy and I decided to walk down our hayfield. On the way back, in the clear, evening air I could hear a faint ting-ting-ting-ting.

"What is that?" I said.

The noise continued steadily, rolling over the quiet countryside in the twilight. The sun had just set, and soon it would be dark.

Ting-ting-ting-ting. Ting-ting-ting-ting.

"It sounds mechanical," I said.

We walked along, listening to the musical ting-a-ling.

"I know!" Randy said. "It's a cow bell!"

And sure enough. That's exactly what it was.

Sometimes the ting was more leisurely. Sometimes it speeded up and was louder. Perhaps that was the difference between strolling leisurely and grazing vigorously.

As it turned out, our neighbor had put a cow bell on her bull. He is a young bull that she had been keeping in the barn until she felt he was ready to be turned out with the cows.

Our neighbor stopped by a few nights later when she was out riding her four-wheeler with her little dog, Daisy, in a basket on the front.

"Is the bull driving you crazy with his cow bell?" she asked.

"Nope," I said. "I actually like hearing it. It's musical and kind of soothing."

"It's just what you'd expect to hear on a calm, clear evening in the country," my husband said.

The neighbor said she had put the cow bell on the bull and then had let him out of the barn the other night. He is a young bull, and he came out like a bull out of rodeo chute, bucking and snorting and with his cow bell clanging away.

"All the cows were standing around the barnyard, and when he came out like that, they got scared and took off," she said.

I can imagine. He didn't sound like any other cow they'd ever heard.

And so -- now our quiet evenings out in the yard in the lovely spring weather are accompanied by the ting-ting-ting-ting of a cow bell in the neighbor's pasture on the other side of the road going north.

I am hoping that the ting-ting-ting-ting might make the bear think twice about hanging around. But maybe not. Randy saw him/her one morning cross the road in front of his truck. And one night when I went out to check on the horses, I heard slow deliberate movement coming from across the road and the sound of big branches snapping.

Deer are pretty much silent when they travel through the woods slowly. This sounded like something very large moving slowly through the brush. Both of the horses looked toward the sound and listened. But they didn't get upset.

Be that as it may -- I decided it was time to go back into the house. . .

LeAnn R. Ralph


Saturday, May 22, 2010, 06:32

Sounds of Spring

One thing I miss during the winter is the various songs of birds. Oh, sure, we hear Chickadees and Blue Jays and Cardinals and the twittering of the Slate Colored Juncoes, but now that spring has arrived, so have the Brown Thrashers. We have lots of other birds, too, but one morning when I went outside with Pixie, I realized once again the richness of the Brown Thrasher's songs.

Brown Thrashers are "mimics" -- or are also known as mockingbirds. They mimic the songs of the other birds they hear.

As I stood outside, I heard: Robin, Robin -- Bluejay, Bluejay -- Chickadee, Chickadee -- Barn Swallow, Barn Swallow -- Bluebird, Bluebird -- Phoebe, Phoebe -- Cardinal, Cardinal -- Song Sparrow, Song Sparrow -- Meadowlark, Meadowlark -- Redwing Blackbird, Redwing Blackbird, Catbird, Catbird . . .

I once heard a bird expert on public radio talking about the Brown Thrashers. Their songs vary from region to region and even from one local area to another area, depending on the types of birds they hear. So, the songs of the Brown Thrasher that I hear around Rural Route 2 might be different than songs of the Brown Thrasher somewhere only a few miles away.

One time when I was a little girl, I went to the cemetery with my mother and sister. They were planting flowers on graves and generally tidying up for Memorial Day. For some reason I started poking around in the tall daylily leaves by my grandmother and grandfather's graves.

And there, in the middle of the daylilies, was a Brown Thrasher sitting on her nest.

I looked at her and she looked at me, and then I quietly backed away from the daylilies, knowing that I should not disturb her while she was sitting on her nest.

At the time, I didn't know what kind of bird it was, but I never forgot what she looked like, and years later, in high school biology, I was finally able to identify the kind of bird she was when we got our Field Guide to Birds and were studying birds.

So here's to the Brown Thrashers. May they continue to have a large variety of other birds to mimic. Global warming experts say the next Great Extinction has already started. The last Great Extinction resulted in the demise of the Woolly Mammoths, Saber-tooted Tigers and other such large animals. I have read that some experts believe that in the next 20 or 30 years, a quarter of all animal species on Earth will be extinct. So maybe we should pay a little more attention to the animal species around us. They might not be here next year or the year after.

It seems amazing to me that people spend so much time and energy fighting about things like taxes and deficits and "I've got mine and I want yours" and spending so much time on their cell phones and text messaging and perusing Facebook and posting to Facebook and worrying about investments and protecting their investments.

After all, in the next 20 or 30 years, one of the species that goes extinct could be us, and then it would all be a moot point, wouldn't it. . .

LeAnn R. Ralph

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