A shepherd once told me, “If you have sheep, you have troubles.”
I knew he loved shepherding himself, so I took it as one of those rueful old saws that get passed about whenever hard times hit, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. That shepherd, Bill Elliot, spent 50 years walking the hills of the Borders of Scotland and truly missed it when he retired. His chief worries then were maintaining his passionate connection with nature and keeping his dogs fit.
You do have troubles with sheep and dogs. It’s not the greatest thing in the world to have to get out when the wind is driving the snow at 50 miles an hour into your eyes, and when the same wind blows the hay back into your eyes and mouth as the hungry sheep try to knock your legs out from under you. Just last night was a night of trouble as we were hit by wave after wave of violent thunderstorms, a bit of hail and two inches of rain. In the midst of it all we had to go out looking once again for our wayward Floss. It all had a happy ending, however, as a neighbor helped us find her this morning as she stood staring at a horse.
But then there are evenings of wonder like this one. I just got in from running the dogs around the fields a couple hours after their feeding. The sun had set, but there was a deliciously soft light on the deep green freshly-growing grass and alfalfa. And added to the sounds of the Robins and Red-winged Blackbirds and the fly-by Canada Geese was the serenade of the first Meadowlarks I have heard this spring.
This bird’s sounds are among the very few that give me chills of excitement when I hear them. My two favorites are the songs of the Wood Thrush and Loon whom I hear when I am in sizable, damp eastern woodlands and the lakes of the North, respectively.
The Meadowlark lets loose with its own variant of the virtuoso flute sound of the Wood Thrush, only it is a bird of grasslands and pastures.
If you want to hear what it sounds like out on our green fields this evening, you can come visit us, or you can click on this link and dream a little dream with me: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Western_Meadowlark/sounds