Captain John Smith (2014-2015)

The overwhelming downside to establishing relationships is the inevitable loss and grief that accompanies them. Sometimes, when we’re lucky, we can Untitled-1postpone that inevitability for decades. Other times…well, we take what we can get and are simply grateful for it.


Steve and Captain John at the Columbus Grove branch of the Putnam County District Library

So it is with Captain John Smith and we are, indeed, grateful.

Our friend, Kim Starr, suggested his name, told us of the Englishman’s role in delivering the word opossum, a close approximation of the Powhatan word aposoum, to the English language. We can only hope that the human Smith served as well as Captain John in the role of ambassador. It was with a gentle nature that he turned heads, changed opinions and opened eyes to new understandings.
Captain John Smith, ambassador for Virginia opossums everywhere, made his last public appearance at the Delphos Public Library on Nov. 19.

Captain John Smith, ambassador for Virginia opossums everywhere, made his last public appearance at the Delphos Public Library on Nov. 19.

Given that it’s an extinct language, there’s just a short list of some 550 words/phrases in Powhatan with which linguists are familiar. Goodbye isn’t among them. Thank you, on the other hand, is. So…

Kenagh, Captain John.

We will miss you.

County fair rabbit quartets are not always male

For going on two years, Waldo has kept us guessing.

In 2014, the fourth in a 4-H market rabbit project was delivered to the sanctuary. An attempt to contain the white rabbit, a Californian with a smudge of soot framing its ears and one rosy eye, resulted in a wilting creature. So we turned it out on the eight fenced acres for the day. The day became night into morning, then days as the rabbit did not want to be caught.

Live trapping efforts captured a raccoon and Snoopy the fox terrier (on separate occasions). We decided that the rabbit was on its own.

Rabbit sightings became a game. We named him Waldo, as in “Where’s…” When horrid cold arrived on Oct. 31, 2014 and settled in to stay, we put out food. This was eaten by the goats. Sure that Waldo was no more, it was a bright surprise when, on the first clear warming day, we saw Waldo nibbling on sprouts under the cedars. Waldo became a symbol of hope, for spring as well as the strength of the indomitable spirit. We found bolt holes carved in the hillside, at the bases of several trees, and under every outbuilding, including the port-a-let near Red Fox Cabin.

All fears that Waldo would crossbreed with wild rabbits evaporated as we observed the white rabbit chase Eastern cottontails from the sanctuary and beyond its borders.

A couple of months ago a neighbor asked if we would take in two more Californians. We separated the male from the female and have just found a home for her. Waldo seemed to disregard the male completely until it disappeared one night. Waldo remained king.

WAS king, until Waldo was queen.

bunniesYesterday morning I turned around from filling the water buckets and tubs and saw a white ball of fur bounce from below the south deck. Three more followed.

Apparently, that male rabbit didn’t disappear fast enough.

It’s now Sunday evening. Steve caught up three and they are in the hutch. The fourth has his or her (we will never assume one or the other again) mother’s smarts and is eluding capture. But we’ll (Steve) keep trying. They are free to a good home, preferably one apiece in four good homes. Our purpose does not include allowing the animals who come here to procreate, and we don’t encourage it elsewhere. That’s how so many of them become homeless in the first place.

Waldeen/Waldette will have a little operation of her own before the snow thaws with spring. She will, just as soon as we can catch her.

Fall 2015 newsletter

Fall 2015 TQF Newsletter-1The Fall 2015 newsletter of The Quarry Farm Nature Preserve and Conservation Farm is here, “hot off the press.” Have a click and read all about it. You may see yourself or someone you know in the pages.

So much has happened in the past three months, especially in September. Despite the cooling temperatures, we have plans for more this winter. Stay tuned to our website and Facebook for Star Walks and programs.

See you on the trails, with boots on.

New boots

Today, as flocks of migrating birds shouted song words on the Quarry Farm, my new boots arrived in the mail. Every autumn, I order a pair of slogging boots for winter chores and trail walks. They must be big enough to allow for layers of socks and tall enough for when the days are deep with snow or icy slop.

Boots Joe

And they must be fun so that I can look at them on those icy slop mornings and laugh a little, as much as one can through a face mask and scarf.

Although last year’s pair are still slung on the front porch, they are split in spots and the liners are worn, just as each pair of work boots is by late March, April or May or whenever the ground firms enough to walk in shallow shoes without fear of mud sucking between the toes. So I started the search for a new pair.

I have always hoped to find an extra-large child sized pair during spring clearance, the kind with handles or grips to help you pull them on. But I don’t believe those are ever made extra large enough. Cousin Holly put me on the trail of a maker who design these for adults, but they were too rich for wearing to purge the hen house of chicken leavings, or droppings left by donkeys who think that particular building belongs to them.

But this year, I found them — a a lovely pair with a chaotic paisley print and neoprene shanks. The hand loops are quite as fine as those mini yellow rubbers that I covet at TSC, but they aren’t likely to attract the chewing attention of goats, either.

I took them for a walk, first thing. And a rustle. And a wade.

Boots Flowers     Boots Path     Boots Creek Boots BracketsBoots Osage

Along the way, the boots led me to heralds of fall, like fallen Osage oranges, also known around here as hedge apples prized for their reputation as house spider repellents. I just think they are pretty things fresh from the tree, before the squirrels split them for food.

New brackets, as big as my boots, grow now from a tree between the old woods above the oxbow, cut off from Cranberry Run as it enters the preserve from the south. The tree, and the ornaments that signal its eventuality, ride the old Jersey cow perimeter.Boots Nemo

This tiny piglet met the boots, which were between her and the heating pad and blankets that she craves as she heals from a probable fall in Columbus from a transport truck loaded with thousands more piglets. Her name is Nemo; not for the Pixar clownfish, but from the Greek, meaning literally “nobody.” Because she was nobody, no one cared.

Now, from here on out, no one will ever hurt her again. Not if these boots, or any of those stacked hereabouts, have anything to say about it.

Making jam

1908061_875195272492033_3010147628062901086_nCome on out to 1/8 mile north of 14321 Road 7L, Pandora on Saturday, October 3, at 6 p.m. for

The Quarry Farm Jam

(formerly known as Acoustic Night — now we are wired!)

Acoustic Night

Acoustic Night2Join in with a musical instrument of any kind, or just bring a chair and kick back under the stars (or under the Seitz Family Pavilion roof) and enjoy yourself.

Last year’s line-up featured guitars, a ukulele, a sax, violin, and many voices. Free kazoos will be available, as will cider and cookies.

There will also be a small silent auction of items made by local artists, with all proceeds to benefit The Quarry Farm Nature Preserve & Conservation Farm educational programming, trail maintenance and for the care and feeding of the farm animal sanctuary.

almost autumn

almost autumn and the sky squeezes blue
through the eye, guilt
from a moment of weeks; two days,
one leaf between a bible

of pages

black and white and velvet brown feet pad
through fallen leaves.
and still another falls to join them
and another still
and another still

Just a week, now, until fall; seven days and yesterday felt every bit the season. We ferried Captain John, the opossum, and Carlton, the potbelly, to Lima for an evening program in the amphitheater at Johnny Appleseed’s Ottawa Metropark. It was cold in the bottomland where the structure sits, the wind constant and insinuating.

But this is less about that than it is about earlier in the day. For the first time in weeks, in months, yesterday afternoon we worked our way to the back field. Certainly because we missed the woods and the field, the stream where it runs past the quarry and the quarry itself, but also as an introduction. And in keeping with this Merlin of a post, where time first marched backward from evening to afternoon, now there’s cause to relate a time two weeks back…two weeks and two days, not to put too fine a point on it.

This is Cady.


Anne named her for Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who, among other things, was an American suffragist. Cady came to us through the Putnam County Dog Shelter. She was abandoned in a Columbus Grove apartment not too very long after she’d birthed pups and almost certainly not for the first time, the birthing or the abandonment. The county’s dog warden, Mike Schroth, let us know about her situation, granted us the opportunity to invite her into our family. So, 72 hours after the county assumed responsibility for her welfare and 48 hours after we introduced her to Mister Bill (who gave her a sniff and then turned his back) and to the chickens (who paid her no heed at all) and to the turkeys (who took an immediate dislike to her and now pester her wherever she goes within the fenced-in area that is the animal sanctuary, unrelentingly reminding me of that Sandra Boynton cartoon), Cady relinquished her given name, Baby, and came to The Quarry Farm, new baptized.

Cady and LollySo, yesterday, 12 days after Baby became Cady, we introduced her to the wilder part of The Quarry Farm, the woods and fields beyond the fence. And again today, yesterday having proven a bounding success. With Lolly, Cady peered into Cranberry Run, braved the bridge, skirted the quarry, tore through the leaves on the main path to the back field, grazed her way across the field, padded along the ridge above Coburn’s Bottom and then back and back and back and back.

On the way, she passed, unremarked, goldenrod goldenrodironweedand ironweed

and a catalpa, alone, in the midst of the goldenrod,

catalpa in back 40

a viceroy


and a dragon.


Who knows what she’ll see next time, Cady, in the fields and along the stream? Or the time after that, for she’s not going anywhere, our Cady.

cady by deadfall_edited-1

Welcome home.

All (almost) natural

TrioSaturday morning was humid, just like the day before and Sunday, Monday, Tuesday…you get the picture. The rain of Friday night persisted into the daylight hours, cooling the air and freshening the yellows, greens and amethysts of this late summer season.

Beautiful clean-up

Beautiful clean-up

And while the raindrops fell, the paints and papers came out under the red roof of the Seitz Family Pavilion, this time for a workshop on Drawing and Painting using natural materials. The fruits of a wild Friday evening in the kitchen resulted in a Saturday palette consisting of four different “paints” stewed from goldenrod, black walnut hulls, blueberries and strawberries, powdered paprika, topsoil and subsoil.

Side note: Potbelly pigs are unimpressed by cooked goldenrod.

There was also to be charcoal grilled from wild grape vine and willow, but since the damp air would have lent more slime than smudge to the medium, solid graphite pencils were used to sketch one or two selections from a table filled with flowers from the Red Fox Cabin gardens, honey locust thorns, the world’s most realistic fake fruit, and feathers molted this summer from the bronze turkeys next door at the farm animal sanctuary.

Will Laura’s scrumptious shortbread to fortify, as well as coffee and green tea, participants created two pieces each, with everyone coming up with unique shades as they experimented with the materials. A nearby poke plant produced a rich magenta. Because I couldn’t cook up a good green, each palette was fortified with tube watercolors, but someone came up with a fresh green using goldenrod and walnut. Since there were a whole lot of brushes being dipped in coffee cups (mostly by accident, although black coffee makes a nice ink), the poke berry paint was applied straight from the berry.

I am going to try freezing goldenrod and walnut paints, so the next workshop may be yet this winter. We shall see. In the meantime, take a look at the gallery from Sept. 5’s lab work and check out Nick Neddo’s The Organic Artist for further motivation. This book just arrived in the mail and it is calling softly from the bookshelf.

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