Sunday, January 14, 2007

BA bum, BA bum, In The Woods

I'd actually gone to see the wild turkeys, but the wild turkeys just weren't showing up. Can you believe it? There are a 100 plus turkeys who arrive everyday to feed on shelled field corn dispensed from the amazing turkey-feeding-machine and they just weren't arriving.

That's right, a wild turkey feeding machine? I've a number of cousins that are gizmo freaks. One thing they did in their youth, was to founder cannons for fun. Yes, in all sizes and they all worked. They shot ball and were powered by black powder. (My family once drove from Tennessee with an entire trunk load of black powder in the car, but that's another story.) They built everything from coffee table models to full scale replicas. Having out grown cannons, one of them, my cousin Roger built a barn on his 35 acres in the country. No, he isn't a farmer he just liked my Uncle Berlie's dairy barn so he built a replica of store his antique tractor collection. That done he's now building a house with hypocausts in the floor.

What can I say? And people think that I'm over the top.

At any rate, he's the one that built the turkey chow dispensing machine. It stores three months worth of chow and spins the corn out on a timer that runs for 8 seconds a day. Hence the turkey horde that arrives daily. Pretty nifty that so many show up, considering that not so long ago Wild Turkeys had been extirpated from Wisconsin.

So starting at dawn I first watched out the window, no turkeys. I then watched the monitors in the barn's living room, the turkey cams. Still no turkeys. Then when the plumber showed up to install the plumbing for the hypocausts in the new house down the hill I figured the day was going to be turkey-less. The least I could do was take a walk and see some feathers. As the fox do see the turkeys and eat them. As do the coyotes and even the Timber Wolves if they can catch them

I head down one of the paths to search for feathers and I hear a "BA bum". I stop. What is that? An animal ? Or is it something man made. It's weirdly hollow and resonant. It starts again, "BA bum" "BA bum", pause, "BA bum". It's vaguely similar to the sound Prairie Chickens make during their spring courtship, but it isn't Spring and it's not boomy enough for a Prairie Chicken. I keep heading toward the sound trying to be as quiet as possible, tiptoeing in my clunky snow boots. There is a crash of branches. I nearly jump out of my skin...remember the Timber Wolves.? Then the whoosh of big wings and I see the tail. The Babumer is a Ruffed Grouse beating his wings on the ground in what I assume is an early attempt at finding a mate.

You just never know what you'll come across. No turkeys but the BA bum of a Ruffed Grouse isn't bad either.

Donegal Browne