Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Richard, Hollis and David have been restoring 4 Walking Plows at the Family Farm west of here.  On Tuesday, February 28, Richard and Hollis brought home to our little Farm the Walking Plow.  Hollis had gotten this plow when they lived in Cameron which could well have been 4 decades ago.

The plow has a patent date of April 8, 1877, which means that it might be 135 years old.  The Plow has seen some wear and has been repaired by a Blacksmith 3 times.

Walking Plows were pulled by horses with the Farmer holding the reins behind.  Together, they "broke" the Prairie Sod which was no small feat.  On average, a person could plow about an acre and a half a day with a plow of this size (14 inches).  That day's efforts meant the Farmer would walk about 8 miles. (See YouTube video:  Also note that the Homestead National Monument video which I posted reference to earlier has video footage of the Walking Plow.) 

A plow like this is likely what "broke" the land here, which we are trying to restore.  I suppose if we listen closely, we can still hear those sounds upon the land.

Thanks, Hollis, for the gift of this plow and for deeply knowing the very special nature of these storied things!

Hibernation Buddies

Storms Move Through

Last night storms moved through the area.  We had high winds and heavy rain just after midnight.  Today, sustained winds of 30 miles per hour with gusts up to 45 were forecast.  On such days, we usually "hunker down".  Low key is in high order.  The persistent sound and feel of the wind take its share of energy.

We took the 2 cats to the Vet at 9 this morning for shots.  As we turned south at Millard, I noted 3 trucks with cherry pickers racing north.  I said to my family:  "There must have been some damage.  Look at them go."  Such trucks were a very common sight last summer in these parts.

To our amazement and sadness, we noted considerable damage along the highway close to the Vet's clinic, especially to one farm.  Across the highway, large storage containers which fit on railroad cars and ships were tossed like child's blocks into a field.

As the day has gone on, we have been checking up on friends and family, and have heard of some damage in the areas around.  These are tender times when we face our own vulnerability.

Later on a walkabout on our little Farm, we bundled up and carried walking sticks to brace against the wind.  Richard and I noted 3 pieces of debris.  This was by far the largest and is about 16 inches across.  It looks to be some kind of wall board and it surely did not come from here.

This is the season that Winter and Spring do their dance.  Each vies for the lead and they can be quite dramatic in their expression.  With climate change, storms get worse.  And they are earlier, which this one seems to be.  I guess we just have to find our way through such things.  And maybe, we need to express our awe at the power of Nature (of which we are a part) and gratitude for the blessings that are in our lives with each breath.

Looking Up

These days, I have made a commitment to get to know the Night Sky a least a little better.  I cannot believe that I have lived all these years and have all this education, but I know precious little about the Sky in which our lovely Earth does her dance and in which I live.  I feel richly blessed that we have a great view of the Sky out here in the country where light pollution is reduced.

In this picture which was taken at 6:49 p.m., February 27, the Moon (which is brightest) is "waxing" which means increasing.  She appears early in the West in the evening Sky.  As she waxes, she will move farther to the East of the Sun.  When she is Full, she will be arising in the East and as the Sun sets in the West, they will be in direct opposition to each other.

The 2 planets that are visible are Venus and Jupiter.  Venus is the brighter of the 2. The straight line which is formed by the 2 planets is the "Ecliptic" which is the plane of the Planets in our Solar System as they move around the Sun.  Looking closely, you can see that they are on parallel with the setting of the Sun.  Only the faintest of light is now visible in this photo.  The Constellations of the Zodiac are directly outside that amazing plane.  On this day, the Moon was in the zodiac constellation Aries. 

I feel like every day is the 1st day of school as I seek to know more about Creation.  I think about how Richard spent many nights as a child on the picnic table staring up at the Sky.  And me?  I was mostly in the house, probably reading, doing homework or chores.  That's weird.  I can't turn it all it around, but I surely can make a start.

These days I am looking up and deeply grateful.  It's like finding a long lost friend who has been waiting for me for some time.

Leek Update

These days, I am watching my Leeks very carefully, checking them several times a day.  Of course, I am even talking to them.  I am sure that they can hear and feel my delight.  It's real. You might not want to go there, but it works for them and me.

I make sure to mist them 3 or 4 times a day to keep the surface of the soil moist, but not soaked.  They have grown really fast.  With this photo, they would have been in the soil a little over 2 weeks.  My plan is to transplant them to a bigger flat where they will have more room to stretch and grow.  I hope to do that tomorrow.  The Moon is in Taurus (which is an Earth sign) and such times are good for root development.

Drop by Drop

February 16:

On this day, I headed out with my new friend, the Camera. We had just had Rain and all the plants had water droplets on them. They were spectacular against the rising Sun. Admittedly, I smiled and thought: "Drop by drop, we are fillin' up the Pond."

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Nature Notes

It was a familiar sight that runs deep.  My eye caught that proud Red Breast on top of the Arbor.  Our friend, the Robin, must have been checking things out.  In the meantime, 2 dozen or so Robins were busy exploring down on the ground.  They must have arrived on this front.  The cycle of Seasons continues.  Once again, we have front row seats.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Book Friend

Long, Judith Reick.  (1990).  Gene Stratton-Porter:  Novelist and Naturalist.  Indianapolis:  Indiana Historical Society.

These days, I have been drawn to the work of Gene Stratton-Porter (1863-1924), a novelist and naturalist of considerable distinction in the early part of the 20th century.  At her passing, publishers estimated she had more than 50 million readers in the United States and others abroad.  Her work served as a significant factor in stirring public consciousness regarding nature during her time.  Yet, like many women in history, her story had largely faded from sight.

Richard has found some of her books at estate auctions and antique shops.  We now have 9 in our collection, including this biography.  I remember hearing of the book Girl of the Limberlost when I was growing up.  This novel would have been produced in 1909 when my Grandmother was in her mid 20s and newly graduated from Music Conservatory. 

Gene Stratton-Porter lived in a time when industrialization and the move to the city from the country had become a high pitched fever.  Her biographer Long notes that pioneer women of the vintage of Gene Stratton's grandmother did not want their daughters to live lives as harsh as their own, so the push was on for more delicate and refined tastes found in cities. 

Gene Stratton-Porter did not fit in.  Her love of nature, birds, moths, flowers, swamp meant that she was often found lugging a 30 pound camera into the swamp focusing on the latest find.  She was a prolific writer, photographer and film-maker.  And she had a considerable following.  She felt herself a modern day "Moses" leading people to reconnect with the land. To date, I have read Freckles and Girl of the Limberlost; both have consistent themes of nature as healer.

Judith Long is masterful in her research and story telling.  She makes Gene Stratton-Porter come alive, both in her trials and her triumphs.  Long also helps create means by which the context of the lives my ancestors comes alive too.  I have thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Reference of Note

Our neighbor recommended the annual Almanac put out by Shelter Insurance.  It's a great resource for anyone wishing to practice "in the sign".


National Park Service, US. Department of Interior. (2008).  Land of Dreams:  Homesteading America.    Harper's Ferry Center Production.


Green Fire:  Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for our Time.  2011.  73 minutes.

Friday, February 24, 2012


In nature's economy
the currency is not money,
it is life.
Vandana Shiva

Sunday, February 19, 2012


These days, a thought is recurring.  And I can hardly restrain a chuckle.  I walk about with a smile from a little humor stirring inside.

With this entry, I now have 2020 entries on this little Blog.  When I started this blog in December 2007, I wasn't even sure of its purpose.  I just had to write.  Over time, the Blog became an excellent record of our adventures here on the Farm, including our large and small discoveries.  Plus, time and space to explore some of our questions about settling into our own version of an agrarian life style.

When we lived up North, I had this gift that seemed to connect people to the Land, its rhythms and its stories.  That's no small feat considering how disconnected our culture has become.  I was both mystified and humbled by what people told me.  In the back of my mind, I have thought that would be pretty special if I can do that through this little Blog. 

And the chuckle?  It has occurred to me if that latter purpose is successful, those formerly regular readers are now all outside.  I would miss the company.  But that would be great too.

Vibrant Green

February 15:

Richard and I headed out on our walkabout this morning. Our eyes and hearts were open to the magic of the Land. We were not disappointed.

Recent Snow combined with warm air must made Melt which must have touched the Moss on Grandmother Cedar. The Moss became a vibrant Green. Humans can make colors like that.

I have often thought that a Crayon box could be made filled with Missouri Greens.  Just when I think I have seen them all, here comes another one.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Nature Notes

Richard heard the 1st Robin today.  Last year, the 1st Robin was recorded February 13. 

The days are clearly making progress toward Spring.  The Sun is stronger, and rises and sets further north on the westerly horizon.  Male Birds are practicing spring calls.  Things just feel different.  While Winter has not let go of his grasp, Spring is more and more persistent.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Blues and Snows

On this day, Blue and Snow Geese were flying overhead. Richard said it must be the peak of their migration through our area.

We first heard their soft high pitched voices overhead, wonderful sounds which preceded them.  Our eyes went skyward, searching.  Then undulating string after string of Geese flew overhead.  We could hear their rhythmic wing beats and the air moving through their feathers. 

We humans just smiled and sent them loving wishes for a blessed nesting season.  I pray they find a landscape which is supportive.  And by the way, would you say hello to our friends up north when you pass overhead?  Wish them well for the spring and summer seasons too.

Richard and I stood in one place for 20 minutes and they did not stop heading in their westward direction toward the national wildlife refuges on the Missouri River.  I wondered who made the call this morning:  "Time to go." 

By noon, rain had begun.  Richard noted that it surely would not be fun to fly through the rain with eyes wide open (even though they have a protective eyelid).  By this time, we were in the car headed south and the windshield wipers were doing their thing.  Geese don't have windshield wipers.

We noted string after string setting wings to stop in an open field with no cover down towards Atlanta.  We wondered if they would find any food there.  It looked kind of grim.  Maybe they knew something that we did not?  I wondered about chemicals and GMO corn too.  Be safe, dear Geese. 

This brief moment in time gave me time to reflect on that fact that migratory birds face a very real threat of tattered landscapes.  Some of the humans call that "improvement".  I wonder what the Earth Mother would say.  I think many humans seem intent on taking it all.  Fortunately, more seem to be wanting "balance". 

When we returned the Geese were lifting off in an undulating flock of thousands.  We were mesmerized watching them fly in mass and in waves just off to our right.  They didn't seem to bump into each other.  I am not sure how they did that. 

I am so grateful that we 3 C's embrace the cycles and the seasons of Nature.  The flights of the migratory birds are a sacred part of our spring ritual.  To miss this would be like cutting off a huge piece of one's soul.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

View from Space

Lisa Lone Fight sent me this YouTube video on the International Space Station on Facebook.  And to my amazement, the Space Station was taking pictures of our area just yesterday.  If you look closely, we are waving from the Farm.  We keep our lights at a minimum so we are a little hard to see.  (I suppose you can see me smiling as I clatter away at these keys.)

Leek Report

Those tiny white things are Leek Seedlings.  Welcome to the Farm!  The green and red which are only barely visible are weed seedlings.  They will go.  We have plenty already.

I planted the Leek Seeds on Friday which was 4 days ago.  The Leek Seeds are beginning to emerge.  Richard reminded me that they actually come up first in almost a "U Shape", in that their top part is down.  It is almost like they are "bowing" to the force of life.  They are "white".  In the next couple of days, their tops will come up and they will turn green in the sunlight.  I suppose you could call that photosynthesis at work.

I can almost imagine them "wiggling" under the soil.  They are excited with their growing and with the promise of spring.  We welcome them to our little home.

Spotlight on Cedars

These last few days, Richard has been focusing on the Cedar Trees, which are quite happy here on this little Farm.  The soil and the conditions must be just right. 

On this day, he was removing galls from Cedar Apple Rust (which contribute to disease in Apple Trees).  He has also been removing the extra trees, of which we have many.  There are a lot more to go.  Most are small (at the seedling stage), but others are bigger requiring a saw. 

This is a little reminder to self:  It's a lot easier to remove a seedling than it is a more established tree.  Of course that is obvious.  We have been quite busy these last few years both on and off the Farm.  However, the little Farm routine is beginning to have more of rhythm and flow to it. That feels good.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Workshop Bound

Melanie is headed to the Tiny House workshop in Madison Wisconsin this week.  She intends to build her own little cottage this next year, starting in the fall.  While one doesn't see much of this in mainstream news as yet, Tiny Houses are a lot of the rage these days. People see some of the glaring down sides of big: debt, utilities, upkeep, impact on the Earth.  Never mind the insecurities of income and being stuck in jobs that just do not fit. 

Melanie does not intend to build a Tiny House, but it will be small.  I think about the sizes that were common at the turn of the last century.  Grandma Matilda's house comes to mind.  That little house held 6 people and I am not sure how.  Somehow, over time, houses "got big".  Dinosaurs did too.

It's great that more and more options are available in times demanding us to think outside the boxes that we find ourselves in. And it is wonderful that people are making some new choices.

Green House

We don't have an official "Green House" attached to the House yet.  I hope we will some day.  However, beginning this week, the interior of our little House is beginning to be transformed into a Green House.  Those lovely South Windows are great for nourishing Plants (and the Humans too).

This picture is just at the beginning stages of the house becoming a Green House.  It is exciting to think about how the plants will grow and flourish over time.  It fills me with expectancy.

By the way,  home baked cookies and cake (under the waxed paper) is great to serve at Green House opening functions.  All other days too.

Plant Voices

I happen to be from a so-called "advanced" culture which has prescribed for its "tribe" a disconnection between Humans and Nature.  Nature is viewed as dead matter, devoid of spirit and consciousness.  Humans are considered above Nature and can do anything with the Earth that they please without consequence.

I am happy to report that countless other cultures worldwide do not practice similar views.  And I am further happy to report that I don't either.  Or perhaps I should say that I am trying not to either.

Those other cultures are more apt to view life as a circle, of which Humans are one part.  All of Nature has consciousness and voice.  For years, I have deeply yearned to hear the "voices" of my fellow beings.  I knew they were there.  I just couldn't open the channel to my heart that could hear them.  I wouldn't say that I am proficient at any of these things.  I yearn and some interesting pieces have emerged.

Take these 2 plants:  The plant above is a Coleus whose original Mother came from Seeds I bought a few years back.  I took cuttings from my friend the Coleus last fall before the Frost claimed her.  Those cuttings had been sitting in rain water on a window ledge until about a month ago, when I planted them in soil.  Looking closely at the plant, one can see a distinctive difference in the colors of her leaves.  The leaves which held on through the long season of sitting in rain water had green without much trace of anything else.  When placed in soil, Coleus began to send up new leaves at the top, and up and down the stalk.  Those leaves are that deep reddish purple color.  My friend Coleus seems to be saying:  "My home is in the soil... I do best there...I recognize and love the increasing daylight and strength of the Sun...My stems are a little wobbly...Being outside when it is warmer is what I prefer...My stems can be sturdier there...You can take more cuttings from the wobbly leaves and share them with friends in the spring."

And below, you will see a Geranium, whose flowers we are told will be Red.  A friend gave this plant to us 2 weeks ago.  It was originally from our lovely Elder friend Joan who passed away a little before Mother.  Our friend is Joan's daughter-in-law.  The Geranium was tall and lanky in its little pot.  Our new Friend/s the Geranium is saying:  "I get tall and lanky when I have little sun.  I just keep reaching out for the Sun and it seems a far distance away. As a result, my stems are not so strong.  Now that you have placed me in a window with Sun, I am happy as can be.  I have put up leaves at the top of my stalk.  They are a dark green.  Their stems are shorter and sturdier.  And yes, that's new green that you seen along the lower part of my stalk.  I am positively gleeful.  And yes, we are actually 2 plants which you could separate. My nice long stems would make good cuttings too."
As I have been more open to hearing the voices of Plants, I am enchanted that those voices have been there all along.  I just hadn't been paying attention.  I am paying attention now.  And I have found a whole lot more friends too.


February 10:

On this day, I planted my first seeds of the gardening season.  My biodynamic calendar from Stella Natura advised me that planting "roots" was optimal for February 10.  So it was my time to spring into action.  Well, maybe I did not "spring", but I did move. 

Planting those black Seeds are acts of prayer and contemplation.  I was grateful for being able to plant food for my family.  I was deeply grateful for Creation's "wheel of the year" which shows signs of steadily moving toward the Spring Season. I was grateful for being in the presence of many living beings, in this case "Seeds".  I must have put 400 seeds in this little plot of soil.  I was grateful for the soil which smells so rich and lovely and the rain water which I will use to keep the soil and seeds moist.  I pray the Leeks will produce food for my family and that I will learn the lessons that the Leeks and the Soil provide.  I am deeply grateful for being in the midst of Creation whose wonder is far more than I can comprehend.

I planted 3 varieties:  Blue Solaize, Giant Musselburgh, and Prize Taker.  Giant M is by far our favorite.  It is big and its stalk is easy to clean and process.  Suzanne Ashworth tells me in her book from Seed to Seed (Seed Savers Exchange Inc., 2002) that Leek Seeds need temperatures of 50-75 degrees to germinate.  They should be up within 8-16 days. We should be good to go in our sunny south window.

Over the coming days, I will be checking in on my friends the Leeks several times a day to make sure that the soil is evenly moist (not soggy).  I can almost feel them wiggling beneath the soil.  I am excited for that time when the tiny green shoots make their presence known.

On this day, I am reminded that Gardening is an act of Faith.  I would wholeheartedly agree.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


 February 5:

I chuckle because I am just beginning my relationship with my new little camera. And she tells me I have a ways to go to experience that relationship fully. This morning, Richard and I headed out for a beautiful walk. I had my camera in my right hand coat pocket ready for picture ops which might present themselves.

We have had rains these past 2 days. The rains have stopped and the sky on this day was beautiful, clear, and blue. I dearly love walking after a rain in the very early spring. Everything smells so alive. And so it did on this day.  No, I did not even think to use my camera to capture that feeling.

We intentionally stopped by the Pond on our morning route. That's not hard to do as the path is a circle. With each rain, our antenna are up: "I wonder what the pond will look like." After each nourishing rain, I think the pond will be full. Well, it hasn't as yet been nor is it full today. The pond reminds me of the virtue "patience". I need little reminders, and they are provided.

I took pictures along the way. But some of my favorite views on this day were of the Blue and Snow Geese overhead against the brilliant blue sky. Once again, we could hear their distinctive high pitched calls above and resonating all around. I set my camera for point and shoot with the zoom on, of course. I have not mastered this camera and consequently, I got some great pictures of blue sky. And in this one, I managed to get a few Geese. I am sure they were chuckling from their views overhead. "That Human... There she goes again."  Maybe some things are best felt rather than captured in digital.

A week ago, the Geese were moving west on their northward pattern of migration which is a sure marker for spring in these parts. They will spend some time on the National Wildlife Refuges on the Missouri River (which are west of here) as they wait until just the right time to head north. When the winter like weather came in at the tail end of this week, they could be found making a "bee line" back east. "It is not time." On this day, they were headed back west. I felt like I might be at the Snow Geese version of a tennis match.

Remarkable Trees

I have been doing Walkabouts these last few days with a focus on Trees.  These are some of my thoughts and reflections on these precious Walkabouts:
  • I love Trees.
  • I am an unabashed Tree Hugger.  
  • I think Trees like to hug Humans too, and all other creatures. That surely must be why they have all of those beautiful branches.
  • The world would be a richer, quieter, gentler space if we would let that Tree Hugger stuck inside the Human come out and play with our friends the Trees.
  • Most Trees on the property are relatively young.  Some may be 100 years old, although I cannot tell.  
  • This is our little blog and our tiny part of the Story as Human.  I wonder what those Trees would write.  If I listen quietly, maybe I will hear.  They've seen a lot.  They've observed the practices of the Human and I can imagine they have wondered what is going on with those 2 Leggeds who have no roots to the ground.  Humans come and go, and with them countless practices on this side of the fence and beyond.
  • We have stately Oak Trees on 2 corners of the property. They were probably placed there as markers.
  • When we first came here, we had a Maple with a pronounced hole in it where the large branches meet.  We would stare at the hole.  We would knock as if we were at the door of someone's house.  To our surprise, we were met with the large curious eyes of Flying Squirrels on the other side.  This past year, the hole closed up.  We Humans don't knock as much now, but sometimes we do. We keep passing by the Tree and wondering what our friends Mr. and Mrs. Flying Squirrel might be up to.
  • I love the old Gnarly Trees which have some age on them.  They are very interesting.  One of those Trees (a Box Elder) has mostly died with just the outer bark standing.  Richard noted that new vigorous branches were shooting up from that old Tree.  How does it do that?
  • We watch the bark and wood of the Elder Trees fall to the ground and become Soil.
  • A lot of the Trees have fallen with the recent conditions.  Wind took them out.  Is that Nature's way of pruning?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Lessons from Nature

The Trees remind us that to fully experience this Life, we need to be firmly rooted in the Soil and reach high to touch the Sky.  Otherwise, we will not survive, nor will we thrive.  I think that is what we came here to do.


On this day, we 3 C's shared a lovely brunch with Dave:  Egg Bake with Veggies and fresh wild Chives on top, Garden Salad (no, we don't have lettuce yet, but maybe someday we will be able to have it this early), Yummy Assortment of Fruit (from the freezer), Melanie's Special Herbal Tea Blend just for today (featuring Holy Basil), Cranberry Bread, touch of Slaw (Grated Carrots, Beets and this season one can never have enough color).  Yum.  What a beautiful way to start the day and the new week ahead.


January 24:

This morning, the Sun appeared to rise on the Eastern Horizon at 7:25 am, and it appeared to set at 5:19 pm. We've had this discussion before. Right? The Sun really does not "rise". The rotation of the Earth on her Axis creates an appearance that the "Sun rises" in relationship to the Earth. That's what we Humans in our sophistication call it, but are we ever wrong.

Regardless, the Sun appears to rise a little more to the North on the Eastern horizon every day. That means those of us who are living in the Northern Hemisphere are moving through the Winter Season and approaching Spring and Summer. This Human is grateful, I might add. Each day we have more daylight, which is welcome. And each day, the daylight is advancing a little more than it did the day before. The increasing amount of Sunlight will pick up speed about February 2 when the changes will be increasingly dramatic.

When I look back at my notes on this blog for January 10, I note that the Sun appeared to rise at 7:32 am and appeared to set at 5:03 pm. That's 2 weeks ago. Time from "Sunrise" to "Sunset" for January 10 was 9 hours, 31 minutes, and for today (January 24) is 9 hours, 53 minutes. (Source was WeatherUnderground).

I never cease to be filled with awe about these things. The childlike innocent questions inside me ponder the extraordinary perfection of Creation to move in such ways. I must say that is more comfortable for me to say "Sunrise" and "Sunset" rather than to think that we are rotating on this ball and that ball is moving around the Sun. It makes me dizzy just thinking about it. Nevermind, the Heavens have their perfection of Grace as they too swirl about.

On my journey through Life, it is increasingly apparent to me that the "more I know the less I know". Pondering on such matters is yet another classic case.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Large and Small

The older I get,
the less I seem to know,
and the more comfortable 
I am with it.
The universe just gets bigger
and I find myself 
the tiniest of specks within.
I yearn to know more.  
But the more I know
the vastness of what cannot be known 
just picks up speed.
I am small.
Infinitely small.
Life is good.
Infinitely good
in more ways 
than I can ever know.
Glinda Crawford, 2012

Friday, February 3, 2012

Revisiting February 2011

"Imbolc" (February 2) marks the time when Nature begins speeding up toward Spring.  Sun is stronger and marks his presence longer each day.  Birds begin wearing colors of Spring Plumage and practicing those beautiful Spring Calls.  Buds on trees and shrubs begin to swell while anticipating the day they will unfurl.  Humans are known to pick up more energy in their steps.  That's just the usual order of things here in the Northern Hemisphere.  I wonder how these things manifest "down south".

The night before Imbolc (February 1) this year, Richard read from his February 2011 calendar.  He keeps great records of what we see and experience right here on the Farm.  The calendar is a posting of what happened last year and what we are likely to see again soon.  While I do not want the "hibernation stage" to end prematurely, I am eager for the next acts of the show.  Here are his notes, with a focus on what we were seeing "in nature":
  • 1: Big time blizzard today and tonight, 14 inches of snow, lots of drifting, snow bound for the first time in MO.
  • 2: Digging out from blizzard.
  • 3: 5 degrees last night, still digging out, birds eating like crazy, Titmice calling peta-peta-peta [spring call].
  • 4: A little warmer, Red Breasted Nuthatch still around.
  • 6: Shoveled mailbox out, heard my 1st Cardinal "car alarm" this morning [spring call].
  • 8: 8 degrees this morning.
  • 9: Nothing.
  • 12: Several Cardinals now singing.
  • 13: Saw 1st Robin.
  • 15: 5 Robins in back trees.
  • 16: Tree Sparrows gone.
  • 17: No fire in wood stove tonight, 65 degrees today.
  • 18: 1st Chorus Frog, Flocks of Blackbirds and several flocks (1000+) of Snow Geese got back today, parsnips in basement are beginning to sprout.
  • 19: Conditions perfect for Goose and Duck migration, warmer, clear skies.
  • 20: 1st territorial Red Wings arrive (by lagoon), more Snow Geese.
  • 21: Great Horned Owl screaming in north woods [likely courtship], more Snow Geese.
  • 24: Ladd found a skunk last night! 27 Cardinals in backyard today [all males with an equal number of females] [Poor Ladd with his supersensitive sniffer: Skunk smell lingered for months, being "reconstituted" with rains.]
  • 25: 6 inches of snow yesterday and last night, still seeing the occasional Tree Sparrow.
  • 26: Got a nice Ball Peen Hammer. [I couldn't resist a non-Nature entry.  I suppose I am checking to see if the Reader is still with me.]
  • 27: Rain tonight with thunder and lightning.
  • 28: 1st Woodcock this evening, Great Horned Owls courting.

Back Tracking

The last few days, we have observed "wavies" of Snow Geese heading west, which is their usual route across these parts on their way toward summer nesting grounds up in the Arctic.  They'll head north from National Wildlife Refuges along the Missouri River across those gorgeous Great Plains. I am smitten by the Great Plains.  I just can't seem to help myself and as I age, I don't even try.

Those "wavies" are lines of Snow Geese weaving in and out with the leader continually changing. They fly high in the sky.  Their beautiful almost ethereal sound just seems to come down and reverberate all around and tease us.  "Where are they?" 

Their migration is early.  Records here on the Farm showed that the movement happened February 18 last year.  I remember "mid-February" as a usual migration time since we have lived here.  I do not know if that is "normal", whatever normal is these days.

Well today, the weather was supposed to shift.  Rain and possible snow were predicted.  A wide spread system was coming to town.  Ahead of the shift, here came the Snow Geese back tracking to wherever they were before.  They were headed due East and they were serious about it too.

I wondered if this was a way that the old timers would forecast weather.  Who knows?  I do know that migration takes a considerable amount of energy.  Richard says that reverse migration is known and he thinks that it would be fairly common among Snow Geese.

We always have stuff to chew on here at the Farm.  Nature just keeps serving it up.  And we have great seats. Every little observation is a lesson in how little that we know and how much we want to know.  Life is grand.

Photos from the Past

These photos taken from 1939-43 touch the pulse of a time which was not so long ago.  I am always enchanted by pictures that help me understand another time, place, and that of the context of people I know and love.  This would have been the time of "young adulthood" of my parents and the period which began the "birthing of their children" (which would be my cohort).

Thank you Denver Post!