Sunday, June 11, 2017
The Swallows Return
We've had swallows nesting under the front porch eaves for almost as long as we've had this old house out in the Wilderness of Central New Mexico.
Except last year, they didn't come back, and the year before that, they abandoned the nest before the chicks were fledged. And the year before that a mean boy who lived in the 'wild house' across the street came over when we weren't here and smashed one of the nests...
This year, however, two pairs of swallows came to investigate the property right around the first of June, and one pair set up housekeeping in the one surviving nest, even adding some skunk hair to the decor.
They're wary of the cats, of course. The cats love to sit on the table by the St. Francis statue near the front door and watch the swallows hungrily. They never know when they might get lucky, and this year, they've been very lucky indeed with the many doves that congregate here and nearby. The other birds, though, stay very well away from the cats and so far we've only found a couple of sparrow babies (probably fell out of the nest) and one yellow-breasted young bird (don't know what kind) among the cats' bird catch.
People say that feral cats devastate bird populations, but I don't think it's true. We've had a feral cat colony here for over a decade, and this is the first year I can recall that between them they've caught more than five or six birds. The birds aren't dumb, for one thing (you should see the grackles tease and mock stalking cats) and for another, there's balance that gets worked out every year. This year the doves have more casualties than I can remember, and not just from the cats. Something is going on in dove-land to control the population, for even with casualties, there seem to be more doves than ever.
This year, because there's been a lot of spring rain, all the birds seem to be flourishing. We have a bird-bath outside our kitchen window, and the variety of birds that come to drink and bathe is astonishing. They keep an eye out for cats, but they love the water, too.
We're happy to have the swallows back. Here's hoping they stick with the job of raising a family. It's been a while.
Meanwhile, we gave away the first lot of Cherokee Purple tomato plants at the Cherokee meeting in Albuquerque. Sixteen plants, raised from seed, the first time I've tried growing tomatoes from seed in New Mexico. They seem to be doing well.
We have dozens and dozens more plants in various stages of growth, most of them slated to be given away to neighbors and friends over the next couple of weeks.
This was a project I decided I needed to do to counter some of the consequences of my condition as it were. There wasn't a lot I could physically do because of pain and other issues, but growing some tomatoes seemed like something I could do, had to do.
So here we are, starting to give them away, and I feel good.
The swallows are back, the tomatoes are doing well, and there are big smiles on the faces of those who receive the plants. Life is good in so many ways. Let's not forget that.