Of geese and groundhogs and thanks


As I write this, I sit all alone on a 70-acre farm, but today it is anything but quiet.
The Canada geese seem to consider this a gathering place, and today is apparently either their reunion or recruiting day.
The flocks arrived in three separate groups, the first group landing in our alfalfa field very early this morning, milling around, squawking loudly. Within the past hour, two very noisy groups descended, and they all took flight, honking and circling for what seemed a very long time.
I watched as the three separate flocks headed west, then slowly circled back around, flying directly overhead as the groups of three became one. I could hear them long after I lost sight of them on this overcast day, flying to the south from our farm.
Slightly after this, a small group of geese came flying overhead, squawking up a storm, surely feeling as though they had missed the bus.
There are late stragglers in every species, I would bet.
I couldn’t help but think of a line from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland as I watched these geese take up residence in our hay field:
“I didn’t know I was to have a party at all,” said Alice, “but if there is to be one, I think I ought to invite the guests.”
Changing seasons. It is a gray and slightly chilly day with a bit of a drizzle falling. Do the geese know something as they gather in this way? Is autumn heading our way, pushing summer aside a bit early this year?
Since moving to this farm, I have been amazed at the bounty of Mother Nature to be witnessed here. I have seen more beautiful butterflies than I have seen in my lifetime, some so dazzling in varying colors that they appear to have been hand-painted meticulously. I have heard the call of such an incredible variety of birds and watched the flash of bright yellow finches gather on the white fence behind the house in numbers like I’ve never witnessed.
Our friend Johnny Baker came and studied the lay of the land before he placed a bluebird box here for us back in the spring, but in spite of his efforts, we didn’t get to see any nesting this year. Maybe we’ll have better luck next year.
Unwelcome critters. Along with the beauty, there is always a fly in the ointment, isn’t there? We are fighting a bumper crop of ground hogs and a nasty proliferation of flies, and for a time, the mosquito population seemed to be controlling us instead of us controlling them.
In spite of the challenges, it is an amazing place to be. Our kids can have friends over for a nice little bonfire, and they all love it so much they don’t want to leave. Our dogs are incredibly happy and safe here, no leashes required.
As I step out on to the grass at night with my four-legged companions and see the enormous, amazing sky filled with stars, I feel like the luckiest person alive. I head for bed each night knowing I have many prayers of thanks to be spoken.

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.