Cousins & Chickens & Swallows , Oh My!

Jul 21, 2019 | 0 comments

My Cousin Gin

Two Red House Cousins came calling yesterday.  Actually, they are my second cousins once removed and first cousins to each other.  Gin Ronco and Kahrs Bemis.  I think they are ten and Kahrs told me that even though he is a bit older, Gin is a bit bigger.

We didn’t measure this time, but I think she is pushing my five-foot-two mark and when I asked about her shoe size — (she had nicely removed them when she came inside and they looked… well, big) — she told me “Eight and a half.”  Is that a woman’s size?” Kahrs asked.  “Yep,” she said.  I got a pitying look from them both when I admitted that I only wore a seven-and-a-half.

Barn Swallow Nest, Church Porch

Before they came calling on us, they had checked out the chickens.  “We’ve named them,” they announced.  “The red one is Rosemary.  The white one is Ella.  And that fluffy one in the nest box is…”  I have to confess that I’ve forgotten what they said.  I was too taken with their descriptions of Svetlana (alias Slutvana, though I didn’t tell them so).

“She’s the nicest one,” they told me.  “She let us pet her.  For a long time.”  I didn’t explain about her being broody and not knowing about it.  I wasn’t sure if they were up on their chicken reproduction facts and really didn’t feel in a teaching mode…

Oysterville Church, South Side

Instead, we went over to the church to look at the swallow nests.  There are not only more of them this year, but for the first time in my memory we have two kinds of swallows and two kinds of nests.  On the porch and, also, up on the eaves on the north side are several barn swallow nests — rather traditional-looking cup-shaped nests built of mud and carefully lines with moss or down.  Barn swallows are the ones with forked tails.  Swallow-tailed coats are named for them.

Cliff swallows have short, square-tipped tails and, though their nests are also made of mud, they are gourd shaped with a small, round entrance hole.  Like their cousins, the barn swallows, they often build their nests near one another, though some might say that the cliff swallows carry neighborliness to extremes.  In the top eave of the church there are five — count ’em, five! — nests snuggled one against the other!

Cliff Swall Nests — Five!
Photo by Tucker Wachsmuth

Both Kahrs and Gin were full of swallow stories — babies rescued, nests found in unexpected places, and…  But all of a sudden, it seemed it was time to go!  “We’ll try to come back!” they promised.  Wow!  I hope so.


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