I thought that the story of the ravens was moving off stage for a while. The raven fledglings were up in the trees learning to fly. Each day I watched them leap from tree to tree gaining dexterity as they tested their wings and self-confidence. Ah to begin on the earth and to journey to the sky. But this journey is not without peril.
I woke yesterday morning to the frantic cries of the adult ravens shrieking their warning call outside my window. I got up to see what was going on. The ravens only make that call when there is an intruder.
The goats were trampling something in the pen. At first I thought it was a squirrel. Then I saw a wing. It was one of the raven fledglings. I charged down the hill in my bare feet and pajamas only to slip and cut the bottom of my foot as I ran to the goat pen. I shooed aside the goats and lifted the raven to safety. At first I thought it was dead but it raised its head in my arms as I carried it up to the house.
Examining the bird I saw that there was some real damage beyond my ability to repair. One leg was badly fractured and one wing looked like it was also broken but not as badly as the leg. I washed the wounds and packed them with antibiotic cream and wound powder to staunch the bleeding. I brought the raven into the house. The raven seemed to come out of shock by the afternoon and I gave him some water and fed him later in the evening. But it was not until the next day that the veterinarian, who specializes in the treatment of birds, was able see me.
The veterinarian was over in the next county and it was a long, hot drive across the mountains in my broken down car.
The veterinarian thought he either pin the leg or remove it and the wing was not as bad as it looked. It could be wrapped and held immobile until it healed. But then what would there be? A one-legged raven who could not fly as well as a normal raven. A raven that was stranded on the earth like a chicken while it saw the other raven so close and so far out of reach. It could not survive in the wild and it was too wild to become a pet. It would always be trying to go home and home was the long and lingering death of starvation up in the trees.
Life wants to be at all costs and circumstances. We see where life has forged its way in to the most inhospitable and precarious situations and how it has adapted into the many diverse forms in order to survive. Giving life that chance seems to be part of my role at this place.
I thought I could manage taking care of a wild bird that would always be reaching for the sky. I though I could adapt my life to the bird as I have adapted my life to everything else here by putting it under my wing. I thought about animal refuge centers who might take in a raven. I thought of all these things on that long,hot ride over the mountains in a car heaving and screaming on three cylinders.
In the end it was the car that decided for us. I just could not afford the cost when my only transportation was hanging together with binding spells and rubber gum.
I was out of my league…
This morning I buried the raven.
The raven chicks have hatched and over the weeks of approaching summer I can hear at least two chicks squabbling in the nest up high in the ponderosa tree outside the door of my house. It was about this time last year when I found Sammy on the ground below the tree…
…Back to the story of Sammy and the ravens.
It was last summer at the end of the day and I was out feeding the goats. Sammy had followed me down to the goat pen. I was setting out the orchard grass for the goats when I saw him crash land inside the pen. One of the does suddenly rushed at him battering him up against the fence at the lower end of the enclosure. I ran down the slope to intervene but by the time I got there Sammy had squeezed through the field fencing and disappeared into the forest.
After I fed the livestock I went out into the forest to see if I could find him. It was not difficult. The father bird was in the trees giving the alarm call. I followed him to where Sammy was perched on a low branch. I watched for few minutes as he climbed higher up onto the branches of the tree; I figured he was safe enough for the evening. In any case he did not respond to my calls.
Equinox Eve. Sammy was back on the porch the next morning. Tough little bird. He seemed okay after his bout with the angry goat. I watched as he ate the food I had set out for him. He filled his throat pouch with food, regurgitated it and stuffed it in a crack under the iron pyrite sitting on the porch railing. Suddenly he leaped off the porch sailing across the property to the limbs of blue pine where the parent birds were calling. If I worked at it I could almost follow him through his eyes as he flew across the tops of the trees. I could almost see from that perspective what is was like to fly above looking down on PsiKeep.
It was late in the afternoon as I watched a young doe who has been hanging close to the house. I watched as she pawed the ground about 30 feet up the slope behind the wood stack. She lay down and was very still. I was deciding to get my camera when saw Sammy crashing into the vegetable garden. I went down to retrieve him. As he was riding back to the porch on my arm, I saw that the doe was standing on her feet and nursing two newborn fawns. I fed Sammy and by that time the doe was leading the fawns into the brush.