During this bitterly cold weather, there are few places that have open water for the wildlife to get a drink. One place is below the dam on our lake.
From the house, we watch deer, turkey and other animals trek down the hill and disappear into the creek for a few minutes. Before long, they return, having found open water to quench their thirst.
For more than a week now, we have had a pair of eagles hanging around. When not soaring around, they rest in a large oak tree near the open water.
One day we looked out to see the eagle pair, high above the lake, locked together and spiraling toward the ground. I turned to my wife, smiling, and said, “They are not fighting.”
This adage comes from early in our marriage. Being raised on a farm, I wanted our boys to have many of the same experiences and opportunities I had growing up. My wife came from a small town with no farm experience but thought this would be great fun.
Most of the dealings with livestock were new to her. We developed quite a menagerie. There was one sheep, two goats, a pig, two horses, several chickens and a couple of calves.
I got a family milk cow and was going to teach my wife how to milk it. After one lesson, she explained to me that I could milk the cow myself.
From a young age, the boys learned the responsibility of caring for animals that depended on them. For the most part, our little farm was running along smoothly.
There were a few exceptions such as the 75-pound pig getting out and eating about 50 pounds of dog food. She almost died from dog food overdose.
There was also the time the goats got out and ate my wife’s flowers. Naturally, the sheep, being a sheep, followed along.
When the damage was done, the goats were smart enough to go back into their pen. The sheep could not figure out how to get in and stood in the yard looking like the guilty one. I am sure she was guilty, but not as guilty as the two sneaky goats that stood in their pen looking innocent.
One day while I was at work, I got a frantic call from my wife. The rooster was trying to kill one of the hens.
They were fighting just terrible. He would jump on her, hit her with his wings, and peck the top of her head.
I was in a meeting with several people, so could not explain in detail what was happening, but assured her, they were “not fighting.” Later, when I had the opportunity to explain the mating ritual of chickens, we laughed about her concern, but she still thought the rooster was mean.
The “not fighting” phrase has been a part of our vocabulary and inside joke since that day. In early spring when we see a pair of bluebirds flutter together toward the lawn looking like they are in an angry battle, we always say they are “not fighting.”
Bald eagles are among the earliest birds to nest in the spring. I am hoping the courtship display we witnessed is a sign the pair is going to nest here. It would be exciting to watch the eagles nest and raise their young within view of our house. It is a possibility since I am quite sure the pair was “not fighting.”