We have a fairly recent addition to the barn crew. While normally we don't encourage wildlife to take up residence in the building, sometimes it is beneficial to us and the critter. In this case, I'm happy to share the hay mow with an owl. It's not a barn owl, as those are white with big, moony faces, and our visitor is a smallish owl, reddish brown in color. Matt thinks it's called a barred owl, and i haven't had time to look up anything more specific, so I'll go with that for now. I love seeing wildlife as long as they don't damage our crops or hurt the livestock. I think it's part of being sustainable. While we are stewards of the land, we share it with other creatures who call it home as well.
Our owl has been hanging out for a couple of weeks now. The upper part of the barn is where we store hay, machinery, and where the feed grinder is located. We've been able to grind a bit of our corn into animal feed now that Dan has the Wisconsin engine up and running, so that means there is a bit of corn dust on the floor of the barn. It's not much, but it is enough to attract the mice that live in every barn. An owl loves to eat mice, and I love the idea of one of these quiet birds cutting down the rodent population. This owl has probably been living there, finding a nice quiet spot to be behind the stack of loose hay, so some evenings you see it, most you don't. It doesn't appear to be terribly afraid of people, and we go about our chores without scaring it off. Tonight, after chores, I was in the kitchen fixing dinner when Dan came in and told me it was hanging out and visible from outside, so I went to check it out. Old barns like ours bear the mark of the builder. That's why you'll notice a small, cut-out shape near the peak of most barns. This was the signature of the builder. Ours looks like a diamond with a small triangle at each point...the result looks something like a cross. It's just a small, open hole that doesn't cause problems as far as rain getting in or anything. Tonight, it was the perfect look out spot for our small owl friend, who was perched there, surveying the barnyard. A little thing like this won't hurt our large rabbits or hen, and I am sure it will find more than enough small mice to keep its belly fed, so I hope it stays. Who knows, it may be a she looking for a nice safe place to hatch a nest of baby owls!