Summer at Mule Springs Farm has been busy. We’ve had many visitors, from the Northwest and Alaska, who came to see the finished barn and the new house. Also, I spent two months pursuing my Master Food Preserver certification, and I have been volunteering to staff the Oregon State University Extension booth highlighting food preservation and food safety on Saturdays at our local Farmers’ Market throughout the summer. I’m now a certification holder of canning, pickling, fermentation, drying, and cheese making. To be a master though—I have a long ways to go.
In addition I’ve enjoyed endless hours in the outdoors: daily hiking with the donkeys, gardening, playing fiddle tunes on the porch, and bird watching.
As our habitat restoration program on the farm evolves, we are seeing more bird species and more birds around the farm overall. This year I paid special attention to bird nests. It’s hard to call myself a close observer of nature, if I can’t find a bird’s nest. Several years ago I read John Muir’s autobiography, and I was impressed by how the young Muir and his brother found the nests of Song Sparrows, Brown Thrush, Nighthawks, Woodpeckers, Kingbirds, Whip-poor-wills and more on the family farm And, frankly during the first year on the farm here –I couldn’t find a single bird’s nest.
But with close observation of birds’ comings and goings, and lots of binocular work, and some help from Bruce, I was able to watch a Bullock’s Oriole build her nest in the branches of the gothic elm in front of our house, and I spied a quiet Mourning Dove atop her scant twiggy depression, and I found a Western Kingbird’s nest built on top of our farm entrance. I finally feel up to John Muir’s accomplishments at least in the nest finding department.