Once again, it’s Halloween—only this year it falls on a full blue moon. The daylight hours are declining as we approach winter, and darkness now rules the day. What’s more, the dreaded Coronavirus is resurging, which is more than enough to scare most people. Now that the trees are losing their leaves and we’re more than a month beyond the official end of our growing season, death lurks in every corner of the landscape and in the darkest recesses of every germophobe’s mind. How much spookier can it get?
We have had our own share of spooky Halloween experiences lately. It all began early on Wednesday morning (October 28). The remnants of Hurricane Zeta were racing towards us and colliding with a fierce, wintery cold front sweeping in from the northwest. Dark clouds were building over our farm that morning, producing a misty fog that crawled across the surrounding hills and mountains and cast a dull pall across the landscape that held the morning glow at bay. Barb walked out on our front porch to check the morning temperature and check up on Calli and our goats, when she noticed a large, white creature lurking along the edge of the wooded ravine behind our goat pens. It had caught the attention of our goats, who were spying it motionlessly from the goat barn entrance.
Barb struggled to decide what it was in the eerie morning gloom. It looked like an albino animal of some uncertain form, but it wasn’t big enough to be a deer or small enough to be a rabbit. It moved back and forth along the corner of the fence as though it were lost, searching for something or trying to decide what to do. When she finally decided what it was, she came back into the house and told me about it. A few minutes later, I went down into the ravine below the goat barn and found a large, white turkey pacing along the fence-line, trying to decide how to get around it. It wasn’t a wild albino turkey. It was a commercial turkey from the neighboring poultry farm to our north that had narrowly escaped its deadly Thanksgiving fate, flown across the ravine, and taken refuge on our farm. Either that, or it was a ghost turkey that didn’t escape its Thanksgiving fate and had returned to seek bloody vengeance. When Halloween approaches, the truth can be anything your mind can imagine.
The following day (Thursday), the anticipated storm arrived and drenched us with 1.61 inches of rain in a single day. A lingering drizzle continued throughout the night and into the early morning hours of Friday (October 30). I awoke early that morning (around 4:30 AM), fed Calli, and turned her out of the house so she could begin her hunting expedition while the pre-dawn darkness provided the perfect cover for her black fur. She started her casual trot towards the porch steps while I went to check the current temperature, when I noticed that she froze before descending the stairs. She was looking intently out into the cloak of darkness that consumed our hayfield. As I turned my attention to her, I could hear a strange crunching sound emanating from the depths of the field. It sounded like something was eating hollow bones, but the misty darkness was so intense that I couldn’t see beyond the first few feet of our yard.
I dashed back into the house to grab a bright flashlight and shined it slowly across the length of the hayfield to see what could be producing the strange noise. While the light was not strong enough to completely illuminate the large forms that were invading our farm, I did catch the glowing green reflections from at least eight pairs of eyes glaring back at me. For a moment, they remained completely still, their eyes relentlessly penetrating back at me through the darkness. Once I turned off the light, I could hear the strange crunching or clacking sound resume. It was then that I realized that I was hearing two bucks battling for the affection of six does who had gathered to give their allegiance to the victor. The sound I was hearing was the clacking of their racks as they combatted for mating rights.
Active imaginations are well suited to Halloween. Any mysterious noise or hazy apparition in the darkness can instantly become a ghost or monster intending to cause us harm. However, it only serves to remind us how our minds can frighten us far more than the unseen things that go bump in the night. Unfortunately, we have no way to know if the monsters we imagine truly exist any more objectively than we can prove that we do. I guess it’s that lingering thought and doubt that makes Halloween such a mystical and scary time of the year. Whatever your own mind may be able to imagine, we at Peeper Pond Farm wish you a happy and safe Halloween.
Oh, by the way, as I was finishing this post, I glanced out the dining room window to the corner of our hayfield and watched as our “ghost turkey” emerged from the tree-line at the edge of the ravine to search for food.