Jane Green: This weather’s for the birds

Jane Green Special to the Farm Forum
Farm Forum

Without any fanfare, apologies, or reservations, I declare that the recent weather we have been experiencing in South Dakota is for the birds and only for the birds! And when I declare that something is for the birds, I mean that it is strictly for the birds! This “spring time” weather has caused so much havoc in farm country that, well, only the birds seem to be able to tolerate it! And the story goes like this…

Endless grief sagas

Rather from snow, sleet, rain, thunder, lightning, whiteouts, or tornadic winds, nothing keeps the true livestock people from braving the weather and rescuing the newborns. It’s prime calving season in Dakotaland, and therefore it’s all hands on deck. Time is of the essence to save each newbie and sadly many have been lost this season for one reason or another.

The blizzard scenarios are graphic and leave us wondering why do we do this for a living? I can’t answer that question but according to some ag experts “if raising livestock was easy; everyone would be doing it.” ‘Nuff said. We’ll continue on by putting one foot in front of the other doing the best we can. In the mean time…

Bird watching

Bird Watching has become the new game in town. We have been inundated with large numbers of waterfowl and song birds. Every shape, color, and size of specie with wings seem to have found their way past our kitchen window. It has been a fun game to watch and wonder about. But where are all these birds coming from and for Pete’s sake Jane, how have you had the time to sit and watch the birds? Hm?

Well, I hate to admit it, but the calving crew retired me to the house this year. You see, my mud-yucking boots sprung a leak, and so the crew said, “Jane, we can’t afford a new pair of boots for you, so you’ll just have to stay inside and handle the calving book, the colostrum bottles, the vaccines, and the cow/calf numbers from the safety of the house. And we’ll handle the rest.”

With a tear in my eye (ha-ha), I took them up on their offer, and so I have a little more time now to watch the birds and also to do a lot more cooking. As I cogitate on this whole situation, I do believe the crew maybe wasn’t thinking so much about me, but about their stomachs. Whatever, I’ll take the change in my daily duties and enjoy the cows and calves when they’re on pasture this summer. Yes!

What kind of bird is that?

Par usual for me, when I experience any kind of change in my life, adventures and misadventures always seem to follow and so it has been with my bird watching escapades. I was forever coming across a bird frolicking outside my kitchen window that I did not recognize. And then driving my family crazy with questions about what kind of bird it was, what was its name, why was it in our locality, and why hadn’t I seen it before? I was like a kid with a new toy. Questions, questions, questions

Fortunately for me and the crew, I had purchased a bird book a few years ago and has it ever come in handy. It’s entitled Birds of the Dakotas by Stan Tekiela published by Adventure Publications Inc. of Cambridge, Minnesota. This field guide book contains 125 species of birds found in the Dakotas. And the part that I like the best is its easy-to-use color guide, and you’ll find the bird.

For example, our farm crew brought in a photo on their cell phone of an unusual blue bird with an orange breast that was living at their house. They had never seen this birdie before and had lots of questions about it.

So, I whipped out my handy dandy bird book, opened to the blue section and found an exact matching photo. We discovered that this bird was called an eastern bluebird. And after reading the book’s data about the bird learned that “it is similar to its cousin the robin and that it has made a remarkable comeback in the Dakotas with the aid of bird enthusiasts putting up bluebird boxes for their nest cavities.”

How about that? Our questions were answered and we all had learned something new. But what else happened with the bird game?


Can you guess? The bird game caused us to concentrate on one of nature’s beautiful creations — the birds — and gave us a little respite from nature’s blizzardy furies. I said that this weather was for the birds. Let’s hope it flies away soon.

Jane Green and her husband, Jim, live near Clark. Contact Jane for some public speaking, to order one of her books, or to register your comments. Email her at jgreen@itctel.com.