Spring brings bluebirds … and flies


Now the foaming white froth of the perfumed locust blossoms has been spent and honeysuckle has taken over the scent waves. The erratic spring weather with abundant rain — understatement! — has some of us feeling as though we are living in a tropical rain forest.

In my pasture, buttercups and grasses are not quite “as high as an elephant’s eye” but they’re getting there, and when the wind blows I stand and imagine that this must be how the virgin prairies looked before development decimated them.

Indeed, I’m sure this is the only acreage in Boardman Township where there is any resemblance to what it was even 60 years ago — I’ve been here 63 years! — and have let it be what it is supposed to be. Once a year, it gets brush-hogged or Mother Nature would take it completely over.

Speaking of buttercups, Toby can barely be seen amid them. His legs are so short they are up to his belly, and all I can see is his honey-colored topline, his flaxen mane and tail.

Toby, who is my lovable, irrepressible, adolescent Haflinger, has me programmed to respond with food to his continual banging of his gate until I can’t stand it any longer, especially after I’ve gone to bed. Both he and Apache know they get a snack at 10 p.m. and heaven help me if I forget.

The other night he kept it up and kept it up until suddenly there was an ominous silence. I jumped out of bed — after all, he does have a heart murmur — to see what was wrong. Opening the kitchen door to the barn and flicking on the light I was startled to find myself literally face-to-face with the bright-eyed offender.

He appeared to have a satisfied smirk on his face and was ready to walk into the kitchen if I opened the door. Instead he turned around and sauntered back into his stall — he’d destroyed the several combination locks on the gate which was wide open — and waited for his reward for his “music of the night.”

I’m sure bird migration routes have been upset by the many environmental disasters this spring, and it is the very first time in my years here that a house wren has not taken up residence in the usual house hung on the usual tree.

But there is something excitingly new — bluebirds! Only once before — I think it was last year — had I ever seen one on this property. Several times in the past week or so I’ve spotted a quick flash of blue — too small for a bluejay — and finally the visitor allowed me a close look as it sat on a snag along with one of the barn swallows.

It was indeed a bluebird and in recent days it has joined many other birds in the mulberry tree before taking a break by perching on the utility wire where I can study it at length.

Bothered by flies? Here is a “green” solution, according to the newsletter I receive from the Ladies of the Clinic. Fill a zip-close bag with water and five or six pennies and hang it in the problem area.

Research found that the millions of molecules of water present their own prism effect and given that flies have a lot of eyes, to them it is like a zillion disco balls reflecting light, colors and movement in a dizzying manner. When you figure that flies are prey for many other bugs, animals, birds, etc., they simply won’t take the risk of being around that much perceived action. Users say this really works, and is certainly not expensive!

Love is the Best Medicine by Dr. Nick Trout is a marvelous read for animal lovers. He is a veterinarian and his previous book, Tell Me Where It Hurts was a New York Times bestseller.

“We lavish on animals the love we are afraid to show to people. They might not return it, or worse, they might.” Mignon McLaughlin


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A lifelong resident of the Mahoning Valley, Janie Jenkins retired in 1987 as a feature writer and columnist at the Youngstown Vindicator. In June of that same year, she started writing her column, "On My Mind" for Farm and Dairy. She loves all animals and is an accomplished equestrienne. Local history is also one of her loves, and her home, the former Southern Park Stables, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.



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