Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Raven's Gift

As most of you know, I have a friend - a feathered friend. A friend watching over me as I go about my shepherdess duties about the place. His name is Bran (pronounced "Brawn") after the Celtic god responsible for ferrying souls to the afterlife as well as being the trickster, along with Loki.
Bran became close to me early in 2005. I noticed him hanging around the barn on the winter mornings. Then one day, I realized he was scooping up the mice I trapped the night before in the barn after I threw them on top of the crusted snows. Not long after that I started placing the mice on a post, watching to see of the raven would take them. And take them he did...along with other offerings like the cracked eggs the hens had been careless with, or the odd leftover from the dinner the night before.
Out of these offerings came something else I never dreamed of. The more I watched him, the more he watched me. In the spring and summers Bran would hang around and actually "talk" to me. It finally dawned on me that he was repeating the same sounds over and over to me, then waiting. One day, I answered back, repeating the same tones as best I could. And so it began. I became a student as well as a friend and provider.
Over the past years we've become even closer. If I go get the mail, or garden in the summer, I can hear the voice of a raven I have come to know as well as picking his voice out from the other ravens in the area. When I have the time after barn chores, I will sit on the stoop of the feed room, watching and waiting, for my friend to show up. I usually don't have to wait long before he flies in taking roost on the fencepost or the barn roof.
Our friendship has been growing as we both have moved from mutual respect on to actually enjoying each others company. Or at least I think he likes my company. Two springs ago, Bran floored me with something I never would have thought of.
I had a ewe with a retained placenta after she delivered a very large, single ram lamb. Throughout the night I was to give her shots to encourage the placenta to pass. I was so tired when I was out to give her the last injection at 2:30 a.m. But as I headed from the barn to the back door of the house, I realized there was a "whooshing" noise just above my head. In the darkness of the night with the light from the back door reflecting off his black feathers, there was Bran, flying less than 10 ft. from my head, escorting me to the back door. As I got there I turned and said "Thank you for looking out for me, Bran. Have a good sleep. It's OK now...you can go home." Off he went uttering an almost purring sound from his throat. It's amazing. Ravens don't fly at night but here he was, protecting me and seeing me home in the darkness.
Last week I had another amazing exchange with Bran. He was walking around in the barnyard amongst the sheep and chickens watching me go about my duties as well as making sure an offering was left for him on "his post". I had two cracked eggs that day. After placing them on the top of the post, I watched as he came and took one in his beak. He then flew over the property fence-line to the field behind us and ate the egg leisurely as I fed the sheep and put the chickens in for the evening. Soon, he was back for the second egg. As he sat on the fence, talking to me, and before he took the remaining egg, he stopped and looked at me. I guess he sensed I wasn't too much myself. I was coming down with a massive cold and really didn't feel like spending more time than I needed in the cold weather that day. I looked at him as he approached the remaining egg, then said, "OK, Bran. You get all these eggs and treats. Well, what's in it for me? What do I get?" He looked at me and off he flew, egg in mouth, towards the direction of the trees across the road.
The next morning was cold and windy. I was later than usual out to the barn as I just didn't want to deal with the wind in my face early in the morning. As I approached the barn I saw Bran walking in and out amongst the sheep chatting with them as he walked. He spied me coming and flew to one of the fenceposts, watching me approach with what I can only say looked like a huge grin on his face.

And there, on the top of the post where I place the mice, eggs and treats for him, was a bone. He looked at the bone, then looked at me. I knew what it was. This bone, this thing that was obviously dug up from somewhere due to the dirt on it, was a gift. A gift for me.
I took this treasure, this gift, making sure I thanked Bran profusely for thinking of me.

...and we humans think we're so smart. I, for one, know I have a very, very special friend. No bones about it. ;-)

19 comments:

Garrett808 said...

Ravens are SUPER smart. Not only did I wish I had a raven now, but it broughts goosebumps while I read, and a tear (ahem) at the end of the post. Its filled with emotions, good ones...like love, trust, respect, kindness. Truly one of my favorite. :)

Leigh said...

Oh Kathy, what a wonderful story! You really made my day!

Theresa said...

Such a great story and relationship! That was quite the gift and it is amazing what develops when we open ourselves up to what Mother Nature has to offer us

Tammy said...

What a special relationship you have with you and Bran. I know you treasure it, as the rare and precious gift it is. How many of us, would have just walked around, head down, not even noticing there was something speical about Bran? Here is to a long relationship with the clever little soul.
Tammy

Laura said...

Ravens are amazing birds, and extremely smart. You are fortunate to have this relationship with this wonderful being!

nurse dragon said...

Kathy, I am always delighted to hear about the goings-on at your place, especially with regard to Bran and his clan.

A lot of people have a hard time telling the difference between ravens and crows. It is interesting to note, however, that one distinction is a variation in feather configuration. Both crows and ravens have feathers called "pinions" at the ends of theirs wings. Crows have 4 pinions; Ravens possess 5. So, one might accurately state that the difference between ravens and crows is a matter of...

a pinion.

(strategicly ducking at this point)
-Melanie

Michelle said...

Thank-you so much for sharing your amazing relationship with Bran. You bless all of us with the retelling!

thecrazysheeplady said...

This was so wonderful I had to go back and read some other Bran stories. You should write a book!

Sharon said...

Thanks for sharing that amazing story with that amazing bird. He has a sense of humor as well as loyalty!

I need orange said...

Wow. How cool. Brings tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing the story of your friendship with us.

Sharrie said...

On the radio last evening we heard a story about how ravens hunt together. They were hunting a lizard and were observed doing it with a plan. Amazing birds............and your Bran.......even more so!

storystudios said...

Wonderful story! You are indeed blessed with the friendship of this fine creature! My wife and I are both touched! I've had the good luck to be a close friend with a cat in my life, and I well knew how special that relationship was. I still miss him. You've made my day a little brighter.

Shepherdess Kat said...

One of the BEST stories to date, thanks for sharing, very touching!

Tina T-P said...

Oh, how cool - what a great story! XOX T.

Kim said...

What a wonderful friendship... I wouldn't have thought a raven (how are they different from crows I wonder) would form such a relationship, but he obviously has. My Wild Bird Store has a crow with a damaged wing who lives in their store, and he is quite a character too.

Mim said...

So nice to here about Bran again! You are a lucky lady to have such wonderful friends.

Claire said...

What an incredible relationship you have with Bran. I was transfixed by that entire post. Thank you so much for sharing it! My mom reads the blogs that I link to on mine and she told me to go read your post because she knows I'm too busy to read all of them sometimes. I'm so glad she pointed it out or I'd have missed it!

Jenny Holden said...

I did miss this first time around! What a wonderful tale. Ravens are truely amazing birds with a huge vobabulary. I noticed when visiting America that the ravens there have different "accents" to the ones here in the UK. My Chris used to have a tame one. She spoke with a Scouse accent just like his and would say "alright, how's it going" when he went out to see her in the morning.

One thing that has upset me since moving here to Argyll is that the ravens have learned to take lambs and, since there was a raven nest above my lambing paddock this year, they were prime suspects when one disappeared. I still love them though!

Mike or Kim Buchheit said...

wow... so enjoyed this story. thank you, kathy. also enjoyed our chat the other day... you are so generous with your time and knowledge... thank you :)