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Premium Member
5,937 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
This morning at work I was tractor driving, topping a field. As soon as we drive into any of the fields in either a tractor or land rover, we are instantly mobbed by swallows at this time of year. They know full well that the vehicles throw up all the insects that they are seeking and they follows us as we work.

At my smallholding I have a lean to shed which is badly in need of repair - the roof needs fixing, the door needs replacing and one wall needs replacing. But I hold back from doing it because the swallows nest in there each summer - much as I need my shed, I love to see the acrobatic parent swallows flying back and forth across my yard taking food to the little ones. And from inside my workshop and feed room, I can hear those same little ones cheeping and calling to be fed. I have often thought about how hard my swallows work to rear those chicks. And each summer when they come back to us, I feel it as an affirmation that I am still looking after my land in a fit way - all the birds that nest with us, and the butterflies we see each summer are such a blessing.

Today the swallows danced with me as I drove, weaving backwards and forwards in front of the wheels, and as I marvelled at their flying (I have always been fascinated by swallows) I was struck by a thought. How blessed these little birds are to be able to turn the hard work of taking insects back to that nestful of hungry mouths into such a beautiful and joyful dance.

Surely that is what we should all aspire to - to be able to take the things that are sometimes hard, but need to be done all the same, and turn them into beautiful happy times. I want to be a swallow!!


chickaholic goddess
2,740 Posts
I was watching them out my window and there was like 6-8 of em buzzing around a feather one of my chickens lost one of em swooped down and picked up the feather and shot straight up in the air and I thought the feather fell out of its beak but it went and caught it before it landed on the ground. It went in the air again and this time the feather came out again...this bird was playing with the feather he did like 4-5 times was so cool to see him/her do that. Then I guess he got bored and took the feather and flew away with it. I love to watch birds.

bunny slave
4,389 Posts
If you do get reincarnated as a swallow, I have a tip for you - avoid sticky flytraps at all costs.

Trust me on this one. :Bawling:

Also known as Jean
1,509 Posts
Hoggie, I love swallows, too. They are my absolute favorite bird. I always grieve when they leave in late August; then when I hear them again in April it really makes my day.

Your description of them at your farm is lovely.

169 Posts
There's that lovely poem by George MacDonald from "At the Back of the North Wind". I'd post it, but it's *very* long.

Shall I do it anyway? :)

I just love swallows, and I'm so glad we have them at our farm.

Premium Member
2,965 Posts
Oh Hoggie, I agree. I mow 4 acres with a rider, It often is quite a tedious task, but the swallows make me grin and even laugh out load throughout the task. My favorite is watching them climb straight up - and dive straight down. They are amazingly streamlined and a joy to watch.

Premium Member
5,937 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
LOL - yep - swallows are great birds. After I had made the OP I had to go out and spent the rest of the day worrying that you might not have swallows in the US and not have a CLUE what I was talking about :rolleyes:

please post the poem littlebird - would love to read it.


169 Posts
Sorry, went to work and now I'm back with that *really long* poem...

From "At the Back of the North Wind" by George MacDonald. (A lovely long children's story, whether you have children or you're still one yourself.)

"Now I do not exactly know what the mother read, but this is what Diamond heard, or thought afterwards that he had heard. He was, however, as I have said, very sleepy. and when he thought he understood the verses he may have been only dreaming better ones. This is how they went---

I know a river
whose waters run asleep
run run ever
singing in the shallows
dumb in the hollows
sleeping so deep
and all the swallows
that dip their feathers
in the hollows
or in the shallows
are the merriest swallows of all
for the nests they bake
with the clay they cake
with the water they shake
from their wings that rake
the water out of the shallows
or the hollows
will hold together
in any weather
and so the swallows
are the merriest fellows
and have the merriest children
and are built so narrow
like the head of an arrow
to cut the air
and go just where
the nicest water is flowing
and the nicest dust is blowing
for each so narrow
like head of an arrow
is only a barrow
to carry the mud he makes
from the nicest water flowing
and the nicest dust that is blowing
to build his nest
for her he loves best
with the nicest cakes
which the sunshine bakes
all for their merry children
all so callow
with beaks that follow
gaping and hollow
wider and wider
after their father
or after their mother
the food-provider
who brings them a spider
or a worm the poor hider
down in the earth
so there's no dearth
for their beaks as yellow
as the buttercups growing
beside the flowing
of the singing river
always and ever
growing and blowing
for fast as the sheep
awake or asleep
crop them and crop them
they cannot stop them
but up they creep
and on they go blowing
and so with the daisies
the little white praises
they grow and they blow
and they spread out their crown
and they praise the sun
and when he goes down
their praising is done
and they fold up their crown
and they sleep every one
till over the plain
he's shining amain
and they're at it again
praising and praising
such low songs raising
that no one hears them
but the sun who rears them
and the sheep that bite them
are the quietest sheep
awake or asleep
with the merriest bleat
and the little lambs
are the merriest lambs
they forget to eat
for the frolic in their feet
and the lambs and their dams
are the whitest sheep
with the woolliest wool
and the longest wool
and the trailingest tails
and they shine like snow
in the grasses that grow
by the singing river
that sings for ever
and the sheep and the lambs
are merry for ever
because the river
sings and they drink it
and the lambs and their dams
are quiet
and white
because of their diet
for what they bite
is buttercups yellow
and daisies white
and grass as green
as the river can make it
with wind as mellow
to kiss it and shake it.
as never was seen
but here in the hollows
beside the river
where all the swallows
are merriest of fellows
for the nests they make
with the clay they cake
in the sunshine bake
till they are like bone
as dry in the wind
as a marble stone
so firm they bind
the grass in the clay
that dries in the wind
the sweetest wind
that blows by the river
flowing for ever
but never you find
whence comes the wind
that blows on the hollows
and over the shallows
where dip the swallows
alive it blows
the life as it goes
awake or asleep
into the river
that sings as it flows
and the life it blows
into the sheep
awake or asleep
with the woolliest wool
and the trailingest tails
and it never fails
gentle and cool
to wave the wool
and to toss the grass
as the lambs and the sheep
over it pass
and tug and bite
with their teeth so white
and then with the sweep
of their trailing tails
smooth it again
and it grows amain
and amain it grows
and the wind as it blows
tosses the swallows
over the hollows
and down on the shallows
till every feather
doth shake and quiver
and all their feathers
go all together
blowing the life
and the joy so rife
into the swallows
that skim the shallows
and have the yellowest children
for the wind that blows
is the life of the river
flowing for ever
that washes the grasses
still as it passes
and feeds the daisies
the little white praises
and buttercups bonny
so golden and sunny
with butter and honey
that whiten the sheep
awake or asleep
that nibble and bite
and grow whiter than white
and merry and quiet
on the sweet diet
fed by the river
and tossed for ever
by the wind that tosses
the swallow that crosses
over the shallows
dipping his wings
to gather the water
and bake the cake
that the wind shall make
as hard as a bone
as dry as a stone
it's all in the wind
that blows from behind
and all in the river
that flows for ever
and all in the grasses
and the white daisies
and the merry sheep
awake or asleep
and the happy swallows
skimming the shallows
and it's all in the wind
that blows from behind

Here Diamond became aware that his mother had stopped reading.

"Why don't you go on, mother dear?" he asked.

"It's such nonsense!" said his mother. "I believe it would go on for ever."

"That's just what it did," said Diamond."
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