"Cows are my passion. What I have ever sighed for has been to retreat to a farm and live entirely surrounded by cows–and china." Charles Dickens

April 6, 2011


A pair of mourning dove eggs which we discovered this morning on our front porch!

Who doesn't love bird nests? I even have a few that I've kept and collected through the years, placed around here and there in the house. They are marvels of natural architecture and the cleverness of unspoken intuition. Every bird has a different type of building design, inherent to their breed. In the two summers before we moved from New Hampshire, a pair of nesting robins built their home on the upper ledge of one of our porch columns: they raised successive broods and we never disturbed their nest and neither did they seem bothered by our comings and goings.

We've put up three new bluebird houses at the farm, spaced along the fence towards the East Field. So far, they seem to be finding them! Bluebirds, unlike purple martins, that the Amish and Mennonites like to encourage around their farms for bug-catching, are solitary couples and do not want to be housed in elaborate condos. Apparently the smaller hole in the door will detract the starlings from coming in and squatting. They are also easy to make and to install: we found it easier this spring to just pick up a few at our local feed store, Goldenrod Feeds. Eli has taken to carpentry so I'm going to have him make me a mess for my birthday. We certainly have plenty of fence posts around for placing them.

The older bluebird house, nearer the cottage, is in use again. Inside there are five small beautiful blue eggs. I have seen the nesting pair flitting about the farm and heard their lovely cry. A few weeks ago, several were around to scout the joint. Now that I got my photo op, when they weren't looking, I won't bother them again. We often park a car near this box but that doesn't seem to phase them and neither does the farm activity. The nest is only about thirty feet from the back door and is about four feet off the ground, a recommended height.

This gnome was already in residence in the tree-like planter outside of our door, complete with dead ivy from last summer. The natural twiggy and somewhat loose construction of the mourning dove nest is reliant on a sturdier base (isn't Google wonderful?), like this planter full of soil. I was going to move the tall, many-tiered structure––made of twined grape vines––over to the cottage this spring but am reluctant to do so at all, even after this pair of mourning doves hatch. Apparently, if not threatened (and they easily are), mourning doves will return several times throughout the season, like other birds do, to have their nests. For some reason, their nests are often less hidden than those of other birds so this might mean we can't enjoy the porch that much: that's alright, really, as we'll spend most of our long summer days over at the farm cottage.

You come back when you're ready!


A footnote about 'Mourning Doves' ~ When I was a child in Akron, Ohio, our power lines ran behind the houses along our street (clever, really). I loved the sad song of the birds that would hang out on the lines and sing in the morning while I was playing outside: "ooo OOO ooo ooo ooo." Thing is, I thought they were "Morning Doves," and it was many years later that I realized they were named for their plaintive singing in a minor key.


  1. I love it, I love it, I love it! You are showing signs of becoming a southerner. You used the word "mess" correctly when you said, "Eli has taken to carpentry so I'm going to have him make me a mess for my birthday." I'm so proud of you!

    I think your pictures are just wonderful, as is your writing. You are so lucky to have these beautiful birds nesting on your porch.

  2. Thank you, m'am! That might be a holdover from Ohio youth, but maybe you are right! I will never EVER say 'y'all' however, unless in jest. In fact, I've not met many people here who say that: 'you'uns' yes, or 'yunz' if said fast enough.

    BTW, do you say 'stoop' for the raised step area in front of a door (that isn't a porch)? That is definitely a holdover from Ohio days--no doubt the German influence.

    I hope I haven't scared those birds away! They were there on the rail this morning but I haven't seen them all day when I've looked. I need to not open the door so much: we had to remove a screen and my handy Mennonite men made me a gate for the porch steps yesterday so they are likely a bit skiddish. We'd thought they were squeezing into the bird house I have on the porch but I noticed the nest and eggs today out in the open.

    One thing I so love about living here in your beautiful country is that we are especially close to the natural world. Before, as New England villagers, I took a lot for granted.


  3. Beautiful post!

    It is delightful how your gnome is standing guard over the nest.

  4. Oh, yes, I have a "stoop" out my back door. It's too small to be a porch.

    If we say y'all, it's not like Paula Deen says it (and doesn't she exaggerate the hell out of it?). It's more like yuh-all said very quickly but not "you all". Did I make that as clear as mud?

    If you want a fine, fine screen door, get the Mennonites to make it for you. I can't remember the name of the one who made Joy's (he also made a chest of drawers and a couple of cabinets for me) but they are so FINE and sturdy and beautiful.

  5. P.S. I like your new header and the Wendell Berry under it.

  6. Titus Hoover -- the master screen door builder. It finally hit my feeble brain.


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