The raven

Local History by Ron Patch. Ron Patch is a Chester native, Chester Historical Society president, and a lifelong antiques dealer. He can be reached at 802-374-0119 or email

This past Thursday about 6:30 p.m., I was sitting on my sofa watching Channel 3 News. I noticed through the skylight a black object near my barn. I got up to see it was a large raven. I see ravens in my field often so it was nothing new.

This raven was minding his own business, making an honest living picking up grasshoppers and other insects. I looked to the right thinking I might see one or two other ravens. I often see more than one.

Where my hiking trail begins in my field stood a beautiful doe. She stood there cautiously looking around making sure the coast was clear. She must have seen the raven as a threat.

She put her head down, swaying it from side to side, and advanced toward the raven. When she was about 20 feet from the raven, she charged. Off the raven flew. This is not the end of this story. I continued watching the doe for a couple minutes.

Suddenly, three ravens showed up for an aerial attack. They commenced dive-bombing the doe’s head. One raven after another flew in to attack. Then a raven flew in and attacked her rear end. She bolted and ran back into the woods.

I bet she had a fawn in the nearby brush and only came out to see if it was safe for the fawn to join her. I have never witnessed this behavior before.

Danny Clemons told me to call him back if the doe reappeared with reinforcements. We fantasized a major battle playing out in my field.

Bucky’s sibling. He sat up when I whistled. Photo by Ron Patch

Skitz the squirrel

I have a few gray squirrels running around my place. I like watching them. There is one who seems schizophrenic. I named him Skitz. He really has erratic behavior.

Skitz comes out of the woods into the field. He sure is nervous as he zigzags across the open ground. He zigs and zags and then heads back to the woods, turns around and repeats. Eventually, he gets where he’s going.

Danny Clemons imagines Skitz has suffered an aerial attack from a P-51 Hawk but survived. Zigging and zagging the way he does, he probably covers an acre to travel one hundred yards. Kim Kendall laughed when I told him about Skitz. Kim says Skitz might be eating the wrong wild mushroom.


I have a family of woodchucks living on the edge of the field. There’s a fat mother and her three youngsters. They pretty much stay in the tall grass. There’s one baby woodchuck that doesn’t have a bright future. He’s oblivious to his surroundings. I watched him the other day for quite a while. I named him Bucky.

Most woodchucks will sit up on their hind legs to look around if you give a sharp, high pitch whistle. Not Bucky. He’ll be dinner for one of the foxes I have here. It was nice knowing him.

Milk snake. Photo by Lynn Russell

Stonewall panthers

There’s a lot of stonewall panthers this year, aka chipmunks. The photo with this article was sent to me by Lynn Russell. Lynn wanted to know what kind of snake this was.

I replied to Lynn that it is a milk snake. Some people call them checkered adders. A good name for this snake would be Addie. I was telling Lynn they can grow to four feet in length.

They are my favorite snakes. Their camouflage markings and colors are absolutely beautiful. They do have a nasty temperament though. A cornered milk snake will curl up like a rattlesnake. At the same time, their tail will rapidly shake just like a rattlesnake. They are non-poisonous, but their bite really hurts. I told Lynn they would keep the stonewall panthers down at her place. She said they have a lot of panthers this year.


When I mow my field, it isn’t long before I see robins where the grass has been mowed. Robins have excellent hearing. If you watch a robin, you’ll notice they tilt their head a little to the side. They are listening for night crawlers close to the surface. When they detect one, they will peck the ground catching the crawler. How they do tug on that crawler. When the grass is high, their hearing isn’t as affective. With short grass, the robins can hear the crawlers better.

This week’s old saying George Patton said to his staff officers in WWII. He had asked their opinion on his strategy. They all agreed. “If everyone is thinking alike, then someone isn’t thinking.”

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