Craven and the Old Barn

When you realize you’ve made a mistake, make amends immediately. It’s easier to eat crow while it’s still warm. –Don Heist

 

The past several years Bruce has leased rights to hunt upland game birds on the Limmeroth Ranch.  The ranch is roughly forty-five minutes from our farm, and recently the ranch has come up for sale. This huge multi-parcel ranch has at least five old homesteads on it and as many old barns scattered across its roughly 4000 acres.

 

Bruce became well acquainted with one of the three owners, because the rancher needed foot surgery, and Bruce did the work. When Bob realized we were restoring our nineteenth century barn and we needed old barn wood for the siding on the new house at Mule Springs, he offered Bruce the wood from an old barn on Limmeroth Ranch.  Bruce remembered the barn Bob was thinking of, because Bruce had hiked by it many times with the dogs while they hunted for Hungarian Partridge. For Bob the sale of the ranch is a sad event, so Bob was pleased to see at least one of his barns live on in a new way before a different owner takes over the property.

Sher’s Jeep Four-wheeling into the old barn. Within a week this watery byway was dry enough to take a trailer in and out.
The old barn at Limmeroth Ranch.

 

 

The barn was once used to feed cattle. It’s falling down now though, and probably wouldn’t last too many more seasons, since one of the main support beams has broken, and the roof is beginning to cave in.

 

Bob said we could have all the wood from the barn, as long as we provided the labor to take it down, and we left the site clean.

Bruce, Chip, Tim, and Laurie plan how the barn will come down and  discuss the method for organizing the wood.

 

We took our friend Chip Wood and builders, Tim and Laurie Southworth, to see the barn.  Each of us liked what we saw. Much of the old wood is in great condition. We could imagine the wood being used for siding and in many more ways for the new house. So, it was decided we would go back the next weekend, with a crew, and tear the old barn down.

The bird guano behind Bruce may indicate the crow’s nest above.

 

While everyone was standing in the lower section of the barn, four American Crow fledglings were disturbed in the loft. Three of the babies flew safely to an outside fence, but one baby did not make it outside. Though I did not see the bird fall, I noticed the baby on the ground and watched it drag itself to a quiet spot against the wall.

Three of the American Crow youngsters made it to the fence behind the barn.
One of the American Crows flies to a nearby post. The parents were circling and calling overhead. Within forty-five minutes all three young birds had joined their parents in the sky.

 

The barn is so remote I doubt this crow had ever seen a human, and the young bird did not show any fear when I tried to pick it up.  I realized then its problem was not genetic; the bird had a fresh compound leg fracture.  Bruce said he could splint the leg, and we might be able to save the bird. Otherwise it would perish shortly, because it could not get away from predators or feed itself.  Bruce said, “If the leg heals, you can release him back here and he will rejoin his family.”

 

It’s easy to confuse an American Crow with a raven, because American Crows are two-thirds the size of a common raven, and when crow comes to mind, for most of us, it is the less easily mistaken smaller bird—the northwestern crow– we envision. The American Crow has a wingspan of three feet; it is a large bird.  Young birds often have sapphire colored eyes as this one did.

The fallen bird seen through a hole in one wall as it hides against another wall. In this photo it is difficult to catch the lovely deep blue color of the bird’s eyes.

 

Craven (half crow half raven), as we eventually came to call him has been with us for over a month, and has had several splints.  It is illegal to keep a crow as a pet. It’s still to be determined if he will be able to be released into the wild; it will depend on how well the leg heals.  Our intent is to release him, if it is possible.

 

So, for now, we have the old barn wood for our new house, and an unexpected guest –Craven, an American Crow.  Both will feature in future Mule Springs Farm stories.

The patina beauty of old barn wood.
Shingles off, and the roof begins to come down.

 

Roof is gone. 

 

Brock deciding what to tackle next.
Half of the barn is gone.
The emptied landscape as viewed from afar. The barn is gone.
The dismantling of the barn took five men three days.
We didn’t forget this old door and plan to use it somewhere on Mule Springs Farm.
Craven in a large aviary perching somewhat tentatively on his splinted leg.
Craven, an American Crow recovering from a compound leg fracture at Mule Springs Farm. The fire of intelligence glowing in his now dark and adult-like eyes.

 

 

 

18 thoughts on “Craven and the Old Barn

  1. Thanks for the picts and story Sher! Is the old wood pine??? Looks like if it was ever painted or Whitewashed none of the pigment remains, modern sawn lumber will not last like that old stuff has, you have a treasure there! I like the saw marks!
    Has “Craven” attempted to talk? I knew and old Cajun down the bayou who had a talking crow back in the day……very intelligent creatures.
    Here is an old saying my Grand Mamere taught us to repeat when we saw crows….the number seen foretells what’s coming!

    One crow sorrow
    Two crows Joy
    Three crows a baby
    Four crows a Boy
    Five crows silver
    Six crows Gold
    Seven crows a Secret, Never to be told!

    “Semper Fi!”
    SD

    1. Thanks for the picts and story Sher! Is the old wood pine??? Looks like if it was ever painted or Whitewashed none of the pigment remains, modern sawn lumber will not last like that old stuff has, you have a treasure there! I like the saw marks!
      Has “Craven” attempted to talk? I knew and old Cajun down the bayou who had a talking crow back in the day……very intelligent creatures.
      Here is an old saying my Grand Mamere taught us to repeat when we saw crows….the number seen foretells what’s coming!

      One crow sorrow
      Two crows Joy
      Three crows a baby
      Four crows a Boy
      Five crows silver
      Six crows Gold
      Seven crows a Secret, Never to be told!

      “Semper Fi!”
      SD

      My Goodness Roy – that saying from your Grand Mamere is wonderful! I was told that some of those beams are heart of pine, so the pine was huge. I believe it is pretty much impossible to get pine that size now.
      Craven will not speak English! In other words, if I speak in English he ignores me, if I speak crow, he will carry on a conversation with me for twenty minutes. It is remarkable and quite wonderful. Amazing really to speak crow and be understood. 🙂

  2. You have a crow! Where could be a more perfect place for Craven to heal? Beautiful.
    I love crows and their fledgling-blue eyes.

    1. You have a crow! Where could be a more perfect place for Craven to heal? Beautiful.
      I love crows and their fledgling-blue eyes.
      Hi Valerie- I thought you might enjoy this. Yes, so far I do have a crow. I am keeping my fingers crossed for recovery. 🙂

    1. lOve this. you sang and laughed with watson.
      no surprise you can speak crow.
      we have terrible wood envy. SCORE!
      xxoo gigi

      Hi Gigi! I can’t believe I forgot about Watson the parrot. Yes, he and I enjoyed opera together.

      Actually Craven has some qualities that remind me of Watson, and I think it has to do with the vocals and the intense eye contact. The eyes in super smart birds is so … connecting.

      Wood envy — too much. 🙂 Good to hear from you. Sher

  3. Hi Sher,

    I love birds and I love this post! Years ago I raised what I thought was a raven (and two crows who did not make it) after a bulldozer pushed down the trees they were nested in. It’s absolutely dreamlike to connect with a raven…I talked and he would talk back and I would lose all track of time. Jake loved to come in close, relax his humans, then steal a shiny object for his cache in the rain gutter! Very funny.

    I’m also very jealous of the beautiful barn wood, though I can’t use it as well as you will.

    Good thoughts your way, Sher!

    Deb

    1. Hi Sher,

      I love birds and I love this post! Years ago I raised what I thought was a raven (and two crows who did not make it) after a bulldozer pushed down the trees they were nested in. It’s absolutely dreamlike to connect with a raven…I talked and he would talk back and I would lose all track of time. Jake loved to come in close, relax his humans, then steal a shiny object for his cache in the rain gutter! Very funny.

      I’m also very jealous of the beautiful barn wood, though I can’t use it as well as you will.

      Good thoughts your way, Sher!

      Deb
      Hi Deb; I had no idea you had that type of experience with birds. Very cool. I can only imagine what it is like to talk with a raven.:) They are such tricksters. Yes? Almost human.

      Barn wood would become mush in Ketchikan. As I know you know. It survives so long here, because it is dry.

      Thanks for commenting. I wish I had met your raven. Sher

  4. What an extraordinary tale, Sher. How amazing that you were able to splint Craven’s (love the name!) leg… I hope he will recover fully, so that you can release him again. Has he become fond of you guys?

    1. What an extraordinary tale, Sher. How amazing that you were able to splint Craven’s (love the name!) leg… I hope he will recover fully, so that you can release him again. Has he become fond of you guys?
      Reggie: I forgot to mention since most of the readers are folks who know us — that Bruce is an orthopedic surgeon, so he deals with bone repair as a career–otherwise I would have never tried this and would have taken him to a bird rescue place. But, Bruce is well suited for this task, and has set bones and even done surgery on animals over his 40 years in practice. 🙂
      Craven is very comfortable around me, but he is wary of others, though he lets farm sitters place food for him and walk in the aviary.

      We will see what the future brings. The break was above the elbow joint, but also the elbow joint was toast, so we are not sure about the leg itself– we will know more in a few weeks. Sher

  5. An interesting story – I like the name you’ve given him. I’m not that clued up on birds, but your crow looks quite small to me – perhaps he’ll get much bigger as an adult. Our African crows have a white collar around the neck, and are big birds – they’re bold and I believe they steal chicks from other boirds’ nests; I think they also tidy up road-kill. I’ve seen them on quiet country roads, feeding on something (??) squashed and flattened on the road. As a child I remember the crows swooping down to steal the small pieces of blue soap when the dhobi (man who did the washing, outside the kitchen, by hand, with primitive equipment – this was central Afriuca in the 1940s) turned his back. The dhobi loathed the soap stealing crows.

    1. An interesting story – I like the name you’ve given him. I’m not that clued up on birds, but your crow looks quite small to me – perhaps he’ll get much bigger as an adult. Our African crows have a white collar around the neck, and are big birds – they’re bold and I believe they steal chicks from other boirds’ nests; I think they also tidy up road-kill. I’ve seen them on quiet country roads, feeding on something (??) squashed and flattened on the road. As a child I remember the crows swooping down to steal the small pieces of blue soap when the dhobi (man who did the washing, outside the kitchen, by hand, with primitive equipment – this was central Afriuca in the 1940s) turned his back. The dhobi loathed the soap stealing crows.
      Alison- Wow that is a neat snippet. Perhaps African crows are more the size of a common raven, which looks like the American Crow but is larger. To me Craven is big, but not so big as the raven. Crows are known as being tricksters and very mischievous — at least in folklore. 🙂
      Sher

  6. Is this the bird that you were nursing while I was there? Poor thing but he looks to be doing pretty well – hopefully he can go free but it’s nice to be alive too!

    1. Is this the bird that you were nursing while I was there? Poor thing but he looks to be doing pretty well – hopefully he can go free but it’s nice to be alive too! Hi Karen– Yes, he had been here about a week when you visited. It is all dependent on the leg right now — we should know more in about two weeks. 🙂 Sher

  7. Watson & Bruce didn’t get along, if I remember correctly. Do Bruce & Craven get along? Great job saving the old wood!

    1. Watson & Bruce didn’t get along, if I remember correctly. Do Bruce & Craven get along? Great job saving the old wood! Hi Terry–You are right about Watson and Bruce not getting along. But one difference here is that Craven is living outside in the aviary instead of inside with us. So, they don’t have much chance to conflict. But the crow isn’t too crazy about Bruce changing bandages. 🙂

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