Poor Wayfaring Strangers

The Brant is still in the back acres. He waddles away from me quickly, a small neat figure with dark, crisp feathers, and I make sure I don’t get so close that he feels he must fly away.

The weather is terrible, freezing rain mixed with snow, and is due to continue in this vein for five days.  I have been corresponding by email with a wildfowl farm in western Washington state. They think the Brant is doomed, too, unless I can get him to food and shelter soon.

I spread some chicken pellets back there, and, moving very slowly, chivvied him to the scattered feed. However he stepped on the pellets and hurried by, not recognizing them as a food source. He’s looking for eel grass.

Oh, Brant! This is two kinds of grass, corn and soy, brought to you by Monsanto and made into nifty snack food by Blue Seal!

He waddled faster.

I’ve also had a red-winged blackbird hanging around the barn paddock. Though red-wings are common in the High Peaks it’s the first time I’ve seen one on my farm. I’m guessing he was blown off course and separated from his flock by the weather. This boy flutters through the sleet looking miserable. He appears to be watching the crows, who tear apart Katika’s cow pies to find the grain. Once the crows leave, the little redwing, hunched and wet, scratches through the remains.

It’s silly to be sentimental about one small saltwater goose and a blackbird. But it’s my nature to want to lend a helping hand to anyone in trouble. I watch these birds and wish I could think of something to do, some way to reunite them with their brethren and send them safely winging south. It doesn’t seem likely.

In church on Sunday the service was devoted to the songs of Pete Seeger. The lines from Poor Wayfaring Stranger keep going through my mind:

I know dark clouds will gather round me
I know my way is rough and steep
But beauteous fields lie just before me
Where men redeemed their vigils keep
I’m going home to see my mother
I’m going there, no more to roam
I’m only going over Jordan
I’m only going over home

I’m glad I don’t have to migrate.


5 Responses to Poor Wayfaring Strangers

  1. Tricia says:

    What about someone at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake- could they somehow trap/catch him?
    Poor Brant- he landed in the best place to give him a chance at making it but how difficult for you.

    • adkmilkmaid says:

      What a great idea! From all the way across the state! I had thought of the D.E.C., which is huge here, but they only intervene if bears are breaking down your windows. I’ve just put a call in to the Wild Center and with luck they will call back. Thanks, Tricia!

  2. Liz says:

    Keep us posted, I hope he eventually gets to migrate.

  3. Claire says:

    Selden, I wouldn’t be too worried about the Brant. We see one every few years in Ohio and they seem to do fine on regular old midwestern grasses. I’d leave some cracked corn for him and maybe some spinach leaves – that’s what we supplement waterfowl with in rehab.

    • adkmilkmaid says:

      Thank you, Claire! We have snow today and so even my measly grass is covered. If I see him at evening chores I’ll drive in and ask my grocery store for old spinach tomorrow. (They are very kind to me. About ten years ago they were regularly giving me wilted produce for the school’s hens and I heard one man yell to the back, “The chicken lady is here!”) I would love to give this poor little guy something as I don’t see anything for him to eat.

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