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. ;-)