Country Living Series

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Red flags, blue herons

This morning when I released the chickens from the coop, I noticed they didn't immediately rush to the compost pile or the barn or any of their other usual haunts. In fact, they all stood stock-still under the awning by their chicken coop, utterly silent.


Their heads were cocked upward. I scanned the skies for a predator but didn't see anything.


Aha. I was wrong, the chickens were right. Perched way atop a dead tree was a great blue heron. Not, I will add, the usual perch for a heron. No wonder the chickens were wary.



A heron is a carnivore, but its usual prey is fish, frogs, etc. It would certainly never attack a chicken -- not so much because it wouldn't mind a nice juicy little chick, but because its body is not suitable to a swoop-and-catch like a hawk or eagle.

In a few moments the heron flew away, and the chickens relaxed.


This short and seemingly trivial incident actually has some deeper implications for people.

Modern humans living in modern society with modern conveniences have learned to ignore the internal red flags that all creatures possess by instinct. In the kill-or-be-killed crucible of nature, to ignore a potential threat may be the last thing an animal ever does.

Yet people will do it all the time. In fact, most modern Americans have cultivated an amazing ability to disregard warning signs, both internal and external. We still have the instincts, but we're often too "civilized" to pay attention to them. But I figure instinct is there for a reason, and that reason might be very important.

This is some of the advice I gave Older Daughter as she prepared to leave the nest: to listen to that still, small voice inside you saying something is wrong. It may be saying something important. God gives us those little red flags now so we can avoid big problems later.

28 comments:

  1. The little nudge, that gut feeling, has never EVER steered me wrong regarding a person's true character/motive or what action I should/shouldn't take. Unfortunately I haven't always followed it's direction.

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  2. A wiser post was never made.

    A. McSp

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    1. Truly!! Well said. Great wisdom and great shots, Patrice.

      God Bless,
      Janet in MA

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  3. White text on a yellow back ground makes reading almost impossible.

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    1. Oops, sorry, I clicked the wrong button when adjusting the header photo text. Thanks for pointing this out.

      - Patrice

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  4. Patrice,
    The white font color is (really, very) difficult to read.

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    1. As I mentioned above, I clicked the wrong button when adjusting the header photo text. Thanks for pointing this out.

      - Patrice

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  5. Yes, yes, yes to listening to your instinct. Your thoughts reminded me of a couple of books I've read by Gavin de Becker - have you read them? The Gift of Fear is one, and Protecting the Gift. Great and helpful information parents of young kids and for launching our older kids into the world.

    Julie

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    1. Yes, I wanted to mention Mr. de Becker's book 'Gift of Fear'. An excellent readable book, he also uses examples from his own life to make his points. His story of coming from a childhood of abuse where his observational skills and ability to defuse bad situations saved his life and lifted him from poverty to the founder of a nationwide security firm. An excellent example of the American Dream in action in my opinion.

      sheilab15

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  6. AMEN.

    We have been living in an unnatural way for so long that we've learned to ignore or suppress our natural warning systems.

    We have developed a nasty tendency to refer to those who still listen to that "internal warning system" as paranoid and/or insane.

    As I count the great regrets of my life, ALL of them can be traced back to ignoring those "little red flags" because the people I cared for did not care to be bothered with my instincts.

    I wonder how much modern mental illness can be directly attributed to divorcing ourselves from our instincts.

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  7. We have to ignore so many red flags on a day to day basis that it becomes hard to pick them up. Driving in bumper to bumper traffic, shopping in crowded stores.... Huge red flags for me that I have to stifle just to survive :(

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  8. I have ignored that warning when taking jobs, too, and that warning was NEVER wrong.

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  9. Sometimes when people receive an actual warning, they STILL don't know where to look for danger. I was at a park with a group of people, and there was an area taped off signs saying "danger. Do not enter". People looked around. They looked at the ground, and at eye level, and didn't see a problem. I was the only one that looked up, and saw the fallen tree balanced precariously against an adjoining tree limb. It's as though the direction up did not exist.

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  10. This is to Miss SwampWoman, you are so right, if you want to hide something, place it high, most people will not look up, straight ahead or down is where they look. Thank you Miss Patrice, I enjoyed this posting. It is very relevant to our survival and continuing breathing. You must learn to trust and act on your instinct. A quote from Comedian Bill Murray is quite telling; "I'm suspicious of people who don't like dogs, but I trust a dog when it doesn't like a person." My little chihuahua has never led me astray...

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  11. Such a very important post.
    My husband and kids used to call me nosy and a busybody when I would comment on strangers in the neighborhood or a vehicle that didn't belong, or making sure I knew where exits were in any building we were in.
    Always pays to be attentive and conscious of your surroundings, what's normal, what's not and be willing to listen to your gut.

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  12. The bells in my head went off when the Stock Exchange shut down today.

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  13. And the planes being grounded and the Wall Street Journal! After reading "One Second After" I'm more aware of "glitches."

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  14. In light of other news around the world, yes, indeed, a big red flag went up for me as well.

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  15. At Frank and Fern's site today, they post "A Pervasive Sense of Dread" which refers to another blog post by someone else. At our hearts, collectively as humans, if we can read, we can get the sense of anxiousness that animals get when an earthquake is coming. Humans can't feel it ahead of the actual rumbling and shaking, but animals can. Last week we had a big earthquake, and before we felt it, our pet bird and two dogs became alarmed. Our bird fell off his perch BEFORE the quake was felt.

    In this "progressive" age, we have been conditioned to ignore these warnings as silly or paranoid or something-phobic: No money, no problem, keep shopping. No morality, no problem, keep nodding.

    When the hair goes up on the backs of our necks, when we feel something is ominous, we need to heed the instincts God gave us to protect us from danger. When we read and look at history, when we know people are lying to us, we need to heed that "hair on the neck" instinct, too.

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  16. My first thought was about the thousands of Blue Herons that I saw in Florida. Now why in the world would this guy be way up in that tree in Idaho when he could be in a much better survival environment in Florida?

    My second thought was about the 20 million people in Florida. Why in the world would they be way down in Florida when they could be in a much better survival environment in Idaho?

    Don't worry Patrice. I know many Floridians. They won't be moving to Idaho. They think we are all whack-jobs.

    Montana Guy

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    1. I'll do my surviving down here in the warm where I can garden, I only had to feed 10 (small) bales of hay to my sheep, and the chickens and ducks hatch out eggs year around.

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  17. Yes, The Gift Of Fear is a very good book, as is Strong On Defense. I used to try to "think my way" past or through a problem instead of trusting that feeling in my gut. No longer.

    - Charlie Mitchell

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  18. There's a very interesting confluence of observations happening here. A couple commenters noted how things in high places can go undetected because people often forget to look up.

    But the chickens on the Lewis Farm knew to look up. The heron was as high as he could get. Did the heron know that being high up - an unusual perch for him - might be a good place to be if he wanted to go undetected?

    Mrs. Lewis looked up, too. And found the threat.

    I'm going to start looking up. Literally and figuratively.

    Just Me

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    1. Just Me, people psychologically down through eons were conditioned to perceive and expect attack at from eye level down to the ground were far more threats existed. Far fewer threats existed in the air above them. So, people scan and take notice at this very narrow band. We are much like two dimensional beings, whereas chickens are processing in three dimensions, so are looking up as well as looking about.

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    2. Very interesting! I learned something new today.

      Just Me

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    3. My chickens do the same thing and I am always amazed at the time. It makes me think I need to do the same more often. Please pardon me while I bang this particular drum for a moment:

      The phrase "look up" occurs only four times in the King James Bible -
      Psalms 5:3 My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.
      Psalms 40:12 For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me.
      Mark 8:25 After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly.
      Luke 21:28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.

      I find each of them very interesting in a variety of circumstances. Your mileage may vary! 8-)

      God Bless,
      Janet in MA

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  19. Thank you for reminding me of this.Karen Jones

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  20. I shan't be around for a week or two to post for the Friday 'what did you do this week' category, but today we canned vegetable soup, and plain chicken; tomorrow more chicken and hamburger, and Saturday it will be sweet and sour chicken, steak bites, and possibly 2 types of dry beans - I hope the beans. The deer are already wrecking our garden, tomato plants being the main plant they seem to be interested in??? Our neighborhood grocery has put canned goods on sale, 50 cents a can. In my neck of the woods, that's about a 30 - 50 cent savings or more per can, so part of my monthly grocery allowance will go towards a case of green beans, which my daughter LOVES, and my gdau absolutely finds as the nasty of all nasty vegies, LOL. It isn't a lot, but this winter we will all be much happier having it in the stockpile. Pork loins are on sale also, so a couple of those will be coming home this weekend, too.
    I guess you could say this is my little idea of looking up a bit higher than normal. And when I get those moments of intuition, and I pay attention to them, I believe my guardian angels are guiding me along and keeping me safe, and I thank them each and every time.

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