Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A name is chosen....and the birds are taking over!

First, I want to thank everyone for their kind thoughts and sympathies regarding the loss of Tula.  She will be remembered fondly in my heart and mind.  These losses are hard.  Although it is a part of raising livestock that is very difficult to never becomes easy to accept.

Second, I was amazed at the creativity and breadth of name suggestions I received.  Give yourselves a pat on the back (or a scratch behind the ears, if you prefer) because you've all sent in fabulous suggestions.  That made it a very difficult task for me to choose a winning name.  Initially, I was able to eliminate a few because there were some names in there that had already been chosen for animals on my farm, and having two animals by the same name would be really confusing.  Onyx, Black(berry) Pearl, Opal and Corsica all already live here!  Somebody happened to choose Kelly's ex-wife's name.  That was quickly eliminated too, because we don't really want her namesake living here!  Then it began to get difficult.

I wrote down all the names and selected some that sounded more masculine to me, and decided to put those aside for future ram lambs (in case Kelly will let me name one, although it's his job to name all male critters on the farm).  I consulted with a few key advisory committee members - namely, me, myself, and I.  I then had a committee with me and myself.  There were some heated disagreements during the committee meeting.  Finally, the committee was able to agree on 10 picks, and we rolled them around in our collective mind for a while.

For the record, here are the top 10 picks, in alphabetical order:

  • Briagha
  • Eden
  • Fiona
  • Grainne
  • Larke
  • Misky
  • Morrigan
  • Olwyn
  • Raven
  • Sitara
I am keeping these on a list because I just love all these names and would like to use them for future lambs (or goat kids) who fit them.  But, there can only be one winning choice for the name of Leslie's black ewe lamb.  I began to do a little research on these names, to help me choose.  That was a good idea for me, because it helped me make the choice.  Without further ado, the winner is Olwyn.

I chose that name for 3 reasons.  First, it sort of matches with the other black lamb's name - Branwyn - which I had already chosen for her 2 weeks ago.  Secondly, I really like the etymology of the word, because it derives from Welsh (many of my ancestors are Welsh) and comes from the Welsh word "ol" meaning "footprint or track" and from gwen, meaning "white, fair, or blessed".  My maternal grandmother's name was Gwen, and indeed she was blessed because she gave birth to my own dear mother.  So, this name had multiple meanings for me.  I hope that this little lamb will indeed have a blessed footprint in her life.  The final "winning" factor that swayed me was that a variant of the name - Olwen - appears in the folktale Einion and Olwen, about a sheep herder who travels to the Otherworld to marry Olwen.  How appropriate - a sheep herder story!

So, it is up to Isobelle the Beautiful Goat to choose which prize her lady would like from those that I previously listed.  I will also need an address to send her the prize, so please email that to me at patentgarden[at]gmail[dot]com.  Congratulations Isobelle!

What on earth did I mean about the birds taking over?  Well, I was sitting quietly at my desk earlier this week, contemplating sheep names of course, and there was a sudden cacophony outside.  It sounded like I had left the window open, but I hadn't, because it's still too cold for that.  I looked out, and grabbed the camera immediately.  There were so many black birds filling the sky that I was just riveted.  I thought it was a "regular" flock, but it went on, and on, and on....   Here's my first photo as I looked out the window.
I took some more photographs, and initially thought that they were starlings.  I've seen starlings flocking in the spring like that, but never in such numbers.  I think it was probably about 2 minutes before the river of birds slowed down.  I thought it was remarkable, but didn't realize that this huge conglomeration of birds would be sticking around for a while!  Seriously, click on this photo to enlarge it.  You will see that there is a virtual river of them flying by.  I can't even begin to estimate the numbers.
Yesterday, on my drives to and from work, the cloud of birds was back, and they were all in a field that I was passing in my car.  The field was nearly black.  I kid you not!  I have never seen so many birds in one place.  As my car passed, they all took off in that seamless way that birds have, and flew over my car.  It was then that I realized they are not starlings - instead they are common grackles.  I have now seen this mass of birds several times - in fields, in trees, and flying overhead.  They make a raucous noise, constantly chattering as they fly and as they sit.  I am not sure what has caused such incredible numbers this year, but I can assure you this kind of flocking has not been in this area in the past two years, since I have lived here. 
Is anyone else seeing this phenomenon?  Here they go over the newly finished barn!
And here they are again!  If you "biggify" this photo and look in the background, you can see them all the way out to where the trees meet the sky.  Everywhere!  Quick - call Alfred Hitchcock!


Adryteje said...

Misky is a sweet name...may be for the next :)

Pricilla said...

How wonderful a name for alittle black lamb.

Holly said...

How interesting that you have a sheep named Branwyn. That is my Aunt's middle name. My grandfather came from Wales when he was in his early twenties to find work other than the coal mines. Humorously my husband works in a coal mine. The big difference is it is an open pit mine not a hole down deep in the ground.

polly's path said...

A great pick for a gorgeous little girl.
It is so funny that you wrote about the birds. I saw the same phenomenon a few months ago here and took pictures of it. I might just post them now. They have been sitting in a misc. folder with no purpose whatsoever.

IsobelleGoLightly said...

Oooh! Thank you Claire! I'm honored that you chose one of my name choices! I will copy your email down and talk to my lady!

Animals with Opinions said...

my human says she has seen the bird thing off and on. she is glad others have seen this bird thing cause she thought they were after her. what can i say, she is paranoid.

snowy the "still looking for gerald" beautiful

Mare said...

That name is absolutely perfect! And we too have had clouds of birds flocking and diving together all over the place. I always see it in the Spring and Fall...I used to tell my daughters it was a Bird Wedding and the bird families were so excited and dancing together...Now Lola says "Look Gumma! A Bird Wedding!!!"

Mom L said...

Cute name, Claire and Isobelle! As for the blackbirds, I saw tremendous flocks like that when I worked in Rockville, MD. It was spooky going outside the building because they were perched everywhere - yes, just like the movie! And when they lifted, there seemed to be thousands of them. This was about 12-13 years ago, and I remember the media calling them crows, although I couldn't tell the difference.

Nancy in Iowa

thecrazysheeplady said...

Those birds are...well...incredible :-o Love your names!

Jenny Holden said...

So sad to hear about little Tula, but at least she was loved and cared for in her short life. It's never easy though.

Like the name choice it suits her well. I smiled when I saw "Briagha" since we have very good friends with a new baby named Hazel Briagha.

Those birds are simply amazing! Sometimes bird populations "irrupt". No, don't worry, they don't erupt! This phenomenon can be defined as: A sudden, dramatic and rapid increase in a bird population. Bird species will irrupt for different reasons and factors include the availability of food, suitability of climate and amount of predatory activity. Irruptions can be of two types; the first is caused by a dramatic increase in breeding activity that results in a larger bird population, while the second and more common irruption is caused by mass migrations, typically to follow food sources during winter months.

Sounds like this is what might have happened. We get it a lot with Waxwings irrupting and flocking over from Scandinavia. Cool eh?

Helena said...

I love to see starlings swooping, twisting and turning in big flocks.
BTW, did you know that Hitchcock didn't actually write The Birds? It was a short story by Daphne De Maurier.