Hawk’s November Dinner

Earlier in the year, I wrote about “our” Red-tailed hawk carrying off what I had hoped was a venomous snake (https://havensideals.wordpress.com/2011/07/06/hawk/). I had nothing to do with aiding Hawk with its meal that day; however, Thursday evening I helped Hawk find its dinner.

There is a section of our 13 acre yard that hasn’t been mowed since July 2010. The sage brush, fallen over fescue grass, and the unidentifiable 4 feet tall weeds were HORRIFIC. However, our AWESOME New Holland TC40D tractor chugged through the section and mowed quite well. About an hour into mowing I was getting ready to round a corner, and I saw a huge bird light on the ground about 20 feet from me and the tractor. It was Hawk!  It looked right at me, pecked on the ground, and flapped up to one of the Pin Oak trees that line our driveway. I could tell that in its talon it had what appeared to be a field rat. I had seen all sorts of rats, mice, and rabbits scurry as I had been mowing. I had kind of forgotten about my live “bird of prey nature scene”, but as I was headed to the barn after mowing, Hawk sat up in a Black Walnut tree eyeing my work.  I humored myself by waving and saying, “You’re welcome!” (Seriously, I was glad to help). ;o)

Starting Saturday….more of our October 2011 Cruise!


Caleb the Coonhound

American Black and Tan Coonhound,
Caleb Caylor-Brown (April 13, 2003-November 9, 2011)

Caleb was born at Mamaw’s house under
my bed on April 13, 2003 on a Sunday night. I have raised many puppies in my
lifetime and most of the ones I have kept as my own I have “willed” them or
conditioned them to be mine and for me to be their master.  However, I observed very quickly that Caleb chose me to be his master.  When Caleb and his siblings Sissy and  Ferd were approximately 3 months old and we would come in from hunting in the woods,
Sissy and Ferd would cuddle up together on their dog pillow, but Caleb would
fall asleep on my hunting boots. One evening last week, Caleb spent about 30
minutes jogging around our field with Sean and me. Every 5 minutes or so, I
would bend down to pet his head or to touch noses with him as he and I trotted
together in sync. With each pet or nuzzle he would wag his tail and keep on
trotting with me.  I had no idea we just had another week together.

(Caleb is on the left with Carter)

The following things may sound contrived or “make believe”, but the first thing to
share was that two mornings ago when I turned out the dogs to enjoy their day on the
mountain, I called each dog to me, kissed them, and prayed that they would make
it back to the house safely. In 5 minutes, they were all up on the mountain
bawling after what I thought to be deer. That was 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning.
Caleb did not make it back home until 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning. He looked
perfectly normal except for a swollen belly, and I thought he had come home
exhausted and drunk a bunch of water. I patted his head and we nuzzled nose to
nose. I said, “You rest, and I will be back later.” When I returned at 10:00
a.m., he was dead. He did, indeed, make it home to me, and I am so grateful to
God that he did.

(Caleb on July 18, 2011)

He was buried quite quickly with a back-hole digger and just in time, because it
started raining just minutes after the grave was packed down. One of our vets said Caleb died with a Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV). It was basically a gas bubble that twisted his stomach and eventually blocked blood flow to the brain, then unconsciousness, then death. Very few dogs even live through surgeries that try to correct the GDVs. I was also thankful that his death was “natural causes”.

Wednesday evening around 7:30 I went out to throw some scraps out to the wildlife of our woods, and I stopped by to see Caleb. I had no sooner stepped to the side of the interment when the rain clouds rolled back like some scroll, and the full moon  with Jupiter beside it
showed brightly down and illuminated Caleb’s final resting place. I thanked God for 8 years with my Caleb, and over the mountain I heard the echo of someone’s shot gun. It was, undoubtedly, a coon hunter out for the evening. It was very apropos for Caleb and for me.


For several months, we’ve had a “hawk buddy”. It’s a
Red-Tail Hawk, and we’ve seen several hawks raised up on the mountain behind
our house for several years now. One of my favorite events I’ve seen in the
raising of the hawks was about a year ago, when the parent hawks were teaching
their fledgling who had just learned to fly well to “dive bomb”! It was so
cute: the parents sitting on top of the tall oak trees watching while their “baby”
practiced bulleting down from the blue sky to the mountain tree-tops. Carter,
Ammon, and I started calling to the hawks last year, and, believe it or not, it
has answered us a time or two. One time we had not heard it all day, we started
calling it, and in two minutes, it called back to us from our neighbor’s yard. So,
thusly, we started calling it our friend.

Last Sunday evening, we were swimming in the pool, and out
of the corner of my eye I could see Hawk darting through the tree-tops between
our house and our closest neighbor’s house. I turned to Carter and Ammon who
were enjoying a great swim, and I said, “Hey, you two! Hawk is flying around.”
In a about a minute, I saw it again circling above with something in its
talons. In an excited tone, I continued, “I think Hawk has something to make a
nest!” I kept looking, and then it dawned on me, it wasn’t a long piece of
straw or stick, it was snake! I had seen animal-nature specials on televisions
where eagles and such catch animals like this, but I had never seen it live with my own eyes. It
reminded me of the Mexican national flag with its golden eagle destroying the
viper in its talons sitting on the nopal. It was a neat, nature moment. We just
hope it was a rattlesnake or a copperhead! ;o)

(This isn’t our photo, but it gives you a visual of what we saw)

Mowing with Barn Swallows

No matter how hard I try, there is about a month every April and May when I don’t get the fields mowed. It’s usually because we have so much rain in those months, and the tractor would bog down in the mud (well, it’s a good excuse anyway!).  During those two months, the fescue grass grows rapidly and reaches over 3 feet! When the ground gets dry enough, I begin to mow, and it takes about a month to get the grass back down to a decent height. Although it takes the mower about twice as long and the mower pushes half the grass down instead of mowing it, there is a fun and enjoyable event almost a tradition if you will: The barn swallows mow with me.

Barn Swallow

It happened last year as well, and I had forgotten until Thursday. I was mowing, and suddenly I saw a barn swallow zipping past me to the left then dipping in front of the tractor. In a few seconds, I saw two swallows flying around. In about 15 minutes, I counted four swallows circling about. It was like “Barn Swallow Circus”. The best thing I can hypothesize is that my cutting the tall grass stirs up all sorts of insects and as the insects begin to fly, the swallows begin to feast! Several times, a particular swallow came within 10 feet of the tractor in a playful manner as if to be saying “Thank you!” It was so cute, and I enjoyed mowing with my avian buddies.