I have already told the story of how the farm came to be – how I saw the property for the first time in November of 2019, and when it was still for sale the following October, how I toured the place and fell in love. You can read all about it in The Farm: First Look.
But how and why did I decide on the name Sunraven Farm?
The first bit is easy. The original farm was a dairy farm, specifically Sunflower Dairy. In fact, my tentative first thought was to keep the name Sunflower in some form or fashion. On top of that, my rain-sodden Seattle soul eats up every extra minute of sunshine that the farm offers up, so I felt more and more strongly that “sun” had to stay somewhere in the name.
As I made the long drive back to Seattle from Mississippi, I began to dream of the possibility that we might own 54 acres of paradise. My mind was reeling with excited ideas as well as identifying likely costs and risks. In addition, the late October weather was glorious and I had a National Park pass burning a hole in my pocket.
The first time I spotted what I will simply call “the raven” was when I was touring Mesa Verde National Park. Btw I know full well that it was not the same raven at each encounter, but it felt like it to me at the time, as if the same raven joined me for a duration of my journey back home.
TLDR is that this raven is how the farm got its name. I had the most amazing encounters with him in Mesa Verde National Park and then again in Arches National Park, culminating in a beautiful vocal serenade (see final video at end of this post). The combination of “sun” and “raven” is pleasing to say and one could argue a natural evolution of the former Sunflower Dairy. I also think it will make for an awesome farm logo!!
As the above photo shows, the first time I noticed the raven following me was in Mesa Verde National Park. The park is a must-see national treasure, btw, and the mobile app audio that you can listen to as you stop at about a dozen different locations is excellent. Be warned that you are always above 7K feet in elevation. My stomach felt queasy at multiple points and I battled a dull headache. I just went as slowly as I wanted and took breaks in the car whenever I felt like it. It was during that slow, meandering visit that the raven first appeared. I saw him at multiple stops along the way, but did not think too much about it that day, other than to snap the one photo. His repeated presence did pique my curiosity.
Two days later I drove into Arches National Park. I would have arrived a day earlier but I lost almost an entire day of driving to a sudden snowstorm. The great news was that after the storm passed, the entire area was dusted with snow and it was gloriously sunny with crystal clear blue skies.
I had already decided that Arches would be my final stopping point of any significance on my trip home. I had been on the road several days already and visited Mammoth Springs and Alley Spring in the Ozarks and the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. I was getting road weary and ready to see my family back in Seattle.
The first time I noticed the raven in Arches, he was off in a tree, as he had been at Mesa Verde. But this time, he was closer so that I could more easily photograph him.
As you can see in the still photo above, his head is arched slightly, his throat feathers are ruffled and his beak is open. I listened closely, and began to hear him make a strange call. My first attempt at getting his unique vocalizations on video were quasi-successful.
I continued to drive up and up and up, higher and deeper into the park. I reached one of the final destinations, the Devil’s Garden, and I encountered the raven yet again. This time I was able to clearly capture his amazing vocalizations, as well as him “drinking” by eating snow. FYI, I have been unable to identify the specific vocalization in the final video. It seemed, at the time, like he was either asking to be fed or flirting with me. Odds are he was just having a chat, but if anyone knows what this specific vocalization is or what it means, I would love to know!