By Becky Nelson
The bird feeders at the farmhouse have been absolutely swarming with birds of late. Mostly chickadees and nuthatches with a cadre of bluejays and a couple of types of woodpeckers are eating their way through a 25-pound bag of seed every 10 days or so. There were almost a dozen turkeys and six doves under the feeders the other day as well. I have been disappointed that the neighborhood cardinal couple have only visited a couple of times, but several people around the farm feed the birds as well and the cardinals may like their restaurant better than mine.
Birdfeeding and birdwatching are wonderful pastimes if you ask me. I am absolutely fascinated with birds, from the hummingbirds that visited my flowers and feeders in the summer that delighted me when I stopped for a drink and they buzzed and hummed from flower to flower to the flickers that hunted ants outside the high tunnels while I picked peppers and tomatoes and had me transfixed watching as they ate the insects in the early fall. This winter, the wide variety of birds at the seed feeders and the suet feeders also delight me whenever I am home long enough to enjoy their feeding. Come late summer and springtime, I will be able to enjoy finches and sparrows, no doubt, when they travel back north to enjoy their summers.
I hope I can attract a bluebird or two this summer, as I plan to put out a couple of houses. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I love to find nests in the Christmas trees and either keep them right where they were built when I bring a tree into the house or remove them when we sell the trees and add them to my ornaments.
The best thing about the birds and wild critters that roam and flit around the farm is they are a distraction from the daily grinds, challenges and problems that plague the business, personal life and world at large. Like all of us, I suffer and worry through the challenges of every day. It is much more pleasant to watch a bird bobbing in the air from the forest edge to a feeder than it is to watch the news. It is much more pleasant to watch bluejays squabble over their seed snack than it is to watch humans squabble over politics or injustices, perceived or real. It is much more pleasant to have chickadees chirping and yelling at you when you’re not quick enough getting seed into the feeder than it is to have supervisors yelling for production, personal strife with other folks or politicians slinging mud or worse at each other.
My daughter got a window feeder for a Christmas gift, and it seems she, too, is catching the birdfeeding bug. The grandkids get a kick out of the birds as they visit the little feeder that brings the birds seemingly right in the living room with them. Like my own feeders that attract a pack of rodents (two gray squirrels and a red squirrel as I write), their little feeder has been discovered by a gray squirrel that the kids have named Steve. In the midst of my monitoring the horrors of the invasion of the capitol, I was sent a video in which the squirrel was visiting the feeder to the delighted chants of “Steve, Steve” from a little voice in the background. It was the calming distraction I needed to keep myself from wallowing in the darkness of the news of the day.
I am blessed and lucky that I can escape outside when things get heavy or dark and can take a quick walk in the woods, watch the birds at the feeder, visit the cows at the farm or sit quietly on a step and watch the birds. I wish everyone had access to my peaceful places, and I urge you all to find those peaceful places that you can call your own. Maybe it’s a quiet room in your house that you can get to for a breath and a chapter of a novel. Maybe it’s the garage where you can escape into a mechanical or creative project. Maybe it is your backyard or a sunroom where you can put up your feet and steal a quick nap or just gaze out the window. Maybe it is a park bench or a seat at a soccer field or a lane in the swimming pool or a ski slope or a hiking trail. Wherever and whenever you can grab these quiet moments, grab them. Soothe your soul, quiet your mind, heal your heart. The challenges of life are enormous right now, and we need to take whatever quiet moments we can squeeze out of the chaos.
Becky Nelson is co-owner of Beaver Pond Farm in Newport, New Hampshire. You can contact her through the farm page on Facebook and Instagram, visit the retail store or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.