7/13/18 - Week 6 - The Flight of the Owlets

The water saga continues. But thanks to the speedy attentiveness and generosity of the crew here and our neighbor and CSA member Chris L.S. Panym, we're getting good flow using the old irrigation set-up on the pond dam.

We will be back to our regularly scheduled program of current farm musings soon. But this week, in honor of the new batch of screeching flying monkeys (baby Barn Owlets), whom we can hear screeching outside our window right now, here's our account of last year's brood.

The Flight of the Owlets

We farmers, out here rooting around in the muck all day, are sometimes chanced privy to the spectacularly goofy things wild creatures do. Such as today, when the wild turkeys got boggled out by the summer thunder, and couldn't help gobbling back at it. Every time.

And once in a blue moon, we are chanced privy to the mystical side of Mother Nature. To the occult. To moments where the cosmic world and the animal world of flesh and blood aline in such a way as to reveal the sources of fairy tales and superstitions.

Such a day, or night rather, was the full moon of July.

We told in these annals, just a few weeks past, of the family of Barn Owls growing up in the owl box near our house. Four owlets there were...

We first learned of their birth into this World by tiny, hideous, rasping noises coming from the previously vacant aery. This was in March. Every twilight thenceforth, when out to check the mail, or out to check the plums, or out returning in from out, their insistent rasps accompanied us, "Feed us, Mother! Feed us!"


And feed them she did.

Once in a while we would spy Mother Owl; silent and ghostly, hovering through the air as if suspended, she would alight upon the doorway, the rasps would increase in urgency for a moment, and then she would float away.

Weeks passed, moons passed, and the little rasps grew in power and potency. They became so loud that they entered our house, and became the constant soundtrack of our nocturnal lives. From dusk til dawn, cooking in the kitchen, turning over in between dreams, or at predawn toothbrushing , "Rasp. rasp. RASP!"

Sometime in early May, they started showing themselves. Far from the demons we expected to see, cute little monkey faces began popping out of the owl box. A few weeks later, be-winged fuzzy monkeys bravely perched upon the porch. Screeching for mommy.

In June, they got their driving permits and could be seen crash landing awkwardly into the nearest willows.

As the June moon waned and the July moon waxed the owlets came into their own. The nights brightened and their presence increasingly dominated the valley. They began flying powerfully, whipping lithely hither and thither, perching on Big Doug Firs across the road, piercing the air with chilling warning calls whenever we approached their nest box. But most of the time, the same infant screeching continued. “Rasp, rasp rasp!” We started to wonder how they all fit inside the nest box during the day? What power would compel them these grown-children to become the silent sentinels they were born to be?

The full moon of July 9th, the "Thunder Moon", was bright this year. On our bedtime walk to check on the irrigation, I remember the long shadows we cast on the silvery path and an eery feeling in the air. We remember tossing and turning in bed that night, bright window shades, shadows on the white walls, and something else strange…


At morning tea we realized they were gone.

Since the night of the Thunder Moon we have not heard the owlets. They are out there: ghostly white phantoms in the twilight. A pellet consisting of the front half of a lizard and the back half a mouse happenstanced on our doorstep the other day.

They are owls now.

The awkward monkey faces are no more and it seems the giant monkey face in the heavens, the Thunder Moon of July, held the key.

See you in the midnight fields,

David & Kayta