Carlton goes to college and other colorful stories

P1080221 We’re six days and counting with no rain. The morass is drying and the butterflies and other pollinators have landed, flitted, and flown in greater numbers than we have seen in these parts yet this year. Before summer’s end, I may need all 10 fingers to count monarch butterflies. The milkweed keeps sending out its rich fragrance. We can hope.

In between butterfly counts, we loaded a crated Carlton into the car and took him down to the Veterinary Medical Center at Ohio State University. What started out as a solid mass that wrapped under his right foreleg had settled into three abscesses. Fearing a pernicious parasite, we made the trip that IMG_4674we’ve made twice now with Marsh the Nigerian dwarf goat.

I love that place — if not the reason for going, but for the experience. The veterinary students and faculty and are curious, kind and thorough. On Thursday, with a dozen or so students gathered around, Erin “won” the opportunity to lance the most problematic abscess. It was truly spectacular, so productive as to elicit a burst of, “Ah-ohhhhs!” and applause. Dr. MacKay announced, “I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t appreciate a good abscess.” That right there is a bumper sticker in the making.

Continental 3On Friday, more color, of a very different kind, arrived here on The Quarry Farm. The Continental Junior Gardeners visited for the fourth year. There were many new faces this year, although some came into focus as we realized they were the siblings of children who visited in the past. They gathered leaves and arranged them on white t-shirts, then sprayed diluted acrylic paints on the shirts to create one-of-a-kind designs. Leader Charlene Finch said they will wear them in the Continental Fall Festival parade in September. Continental 2

After lemonade and cookies, they walked through the butterfly gardens and visited the farm animal sanctuary. The turkeys claimed the group as their own and gentle giant goat Mr. Bill smiled for several cameras. Before they left us for another year, all but one camera-shy dad posed on the red Fox Cabin front porch for their annual portrait.

ContinentalThe sun continues to shine today. Damselflies and dragonflies are on the move, lessening the hum of mosquitoes bred in the recent floods. With paint left in the spray bottles, I think a few more t-shirts will be made this afternoon. Pick up a t-shirt of your own and come on by around 3 p.m.

Can’t promise there will be any cookies left, but there are butterflies and a much happier pig next door.

 

Pause here for P-G

P-G Third Grade 2015Before we continue along the trail in a search of wildflowers and wild mushrooms, let’s take a moment to highlight a Friday adventure that we shared with the third grade class from Pandora-Gilboa Elementary School.

Although the school is just around a few corners from The Quarry Farm, this is the first time a class has been able to pay us visit in a while. This morning, the sun rose in a clear blue sky, the tortuous winds that we’ve had of late held their breath for the most part, and 41 students descending the bus steps to join us for the morning.

At three different stations, these curious kids learned about herbs alongside the butterfly garden, beneficial insects that spend much of their life in and along Cranberry Run and Riley Creek, and met some of the animals of the sanctuary.Herbs

At Station 1, Laura talked about past and present uses for herbs, and the pollinators that live amongst them in the Red Fox Cabin gardens. The students chose snipped samples of their favorites from a selection of culinary and/or fragrant herbs, zip-lock bagged the cuttings and labeled the bags for the journey home.

Steve brought on the dragonfly nymphs, or at least a bucket of them, at Station 2. He talked about the life cycles and habits of these predators, Macrosas well as others like damselflies and water scorpions. He pulled the old arm-covered-with-leeches trick, asking, “How long will it be before these leeches suck all the blood from my arm?” The answer? Never. The leeches he displayed were fish leeches.

Bronze turkeys Humperdink, Inigo, and Miracle Max were the greeting party at Station 3, the farm animal sanctuary. Johnny the Canada goose joined in, too. Most of the residents were lying low — in outbuildings and under trees — due to warm, sweaty temperatures, but Buddy the donkey came out. Potbelly Carlton and Lucy the donkey made their large group debut as well. Carlton rolled over for a belly scratch and Lucy leaned in for ear whispers.Lucy

Captain John Smith the Virginia opossum was the special guest “speaker” during the lunch hour. Half of the class met the Captain at Christmas time during a classroom reading of Jan Brett’s The Mitten. We thought it only fair he should meet the whole class on his own turf.

Here are a few more images from the day. Thank you to Nikki Beckman for sharing photos, Jessica Arthur and Jill Henry for sharing your class time, and top Paulding Putnam Electric Cooperative and First National Bank of Pandora for supporting this educational program. If anymore photos arrive in the email box, we’ll add them to the show.

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Three Goats, Two Humans and the Very Small Car

Goat CarFive years ago, while bringing Anne home from a stint on the EPA  vessel Lake Guardian, her car, a seven year old Toyota we bought used to begin with, gave up the ghost in dramatic fashion. As we came into Findlay from the east, the car gave a thump and a shudder and began belching thick, black smoke.

We limped into town and into the first car dealership we came to, then walked the roughly half-of-a-mile down to a second, having seen nothing we were interested in at the first. There Anne spotted a Scion xA and almost immediately fell in love. We had her old Toyota towed to the dealership and used it as a downpayment on what she now fondly refers to as her “little rollerskate.” If you’re unfamiliar with the xAs, they’re a smaller version of the current xD and similar in shape to the Honda Fit. In short, they’re microSUVs.

We’ve hauled just about everything in that little car: hawks, falcons, vultures, pigs, dogs, cats, ducks, geese, foxes, opossums, crows, owls over a dozen species of songbird, 55 gallon aquariums, bales of hay and straw and the list goes on. Most recently, Anne’s Little Rollerskate faced what we thought would be its greatest challenge: three pygmy goats.

Willow

Willow

We’ve talked for years about maintaining a small herd of dairy goats, but the closest we’ve come are Marsh and S’more, the two Nigerian Dwarf wethers that have lived on The Quarry Farm for nearly three years now. So, when we were told about these three goats, an intact buck and two does, we contacted the woman with whom they lived. As with so many others, the recession had hit her hard. Having been without work for months and still recovering from a necessary surgery nearly a year ago, she found herself without the means to care for her herd of goats. Most went to a local farm (she lives in Rootstown, south of Ravenna in eastern Ohio), but she was left with these three until she contacted The Quarry Farm.

Alaura

Elora

It was a miserable day for a drive when we left Putnam County. There was just enough snow to make the roads treacherous and it took nearly four hours to make a trip that should have taken only three. Add to that some skepticism on my part that we’d be able to fit three adult goats and ourselves in Anne’s little subcompact and it made for a tense trip.

As it turns out, I should have left my doubts at home.

Martigan

Once we arrived at our destination, we were delighted to discover that the goats were even smaller than we’d imagined. The older doe and the buck, Willow and Madmartigan respectively, stand no taller than eighteen inches at the shoulder, while Elora, the younger doe, is even smaller. Even with a full set of horns, horns that we initially padded turban-like with a towel, Madmartigan could easily stand up straight in the car, and all three were able to move freely around the cargo compartment.

Martigan Home

Martigan

The ride home was uneventful and we introduced all three to their new living quarters. Now they’re permanent members of The Quarry Farm family. And you’re all welcome to come and visit them and the rest of the facility. Just give us a call. We’ll be happy to show you around.

NOTE: Before anyone tells us that we have the wrong kind of goats for milking, we know. The animals that live here on the conservation farm of The Quarry Farm are here because, in almost all cases, they had nowhere else to go and we could offer them a home. Most do carry their weight: goats eat invasive plants, chickens give us eggs, Buddy and the geese guard the property, etc. The pygmies will make it possible for school groups and other visitors to see goats being milked. And we’ll have goat milk.

Long Sleeve Weather

In the upland with Tri-Moraine Audubon

The air was chill but the sun was high on Saturday, October 6 for the “Wetland Wonderland” (see WORKSHOPS AND PRESENTATIONS) Tri-Moraine Audubon Society field trip to The Quarry Farm.  The group was led by Quarry Farm Friend Dave Betts.  All the Thursday rain put water back in the oxbow, enough to yield a sampling of aquatic macroinvertebrates that included a scud. This freshwater crustacean was the first such mini-shrimp seen and held by participants. Got to love that. I did.

Want to know more about scuds? Come to the Quarry Farm in the spring, but check them out here while ice covers the vernal pools: http://www.fcps.edu/islandcreekes/ecology/scud.htm

The water continued to rise in Cranberry Run while the Tri-Moraine Audubon Society walked the trails on Saturday. But by Monday, October 8, the creek had dropped back into its banks in time for 30 Pandora Cub Scouts, accompanied by their siblings and parents, to visit for a presentation and a tour. The “show” consisted of meet-and-greets with Buddy, aquatic macroinvertebrates, a juvenile opossum, a walk to the creek, cabin, and a cider-and-cookies finish around the fire bowl. What are some of the things that we hope the Scouts learned? That fish leeches won’t drain your arm of blood, that baby dragonflies eat lots of baby mosquitos, that opossums are nature’s garbage collectors, and that Northwest Ohio sunsets are the best. What did we learn? That you can cover a lot of ground in an hour. Beautiful night.

After cider fire

The gloves are off

Peter Noyes and his camera lead the way down the hill from the upland trail

The rains finally came and the trees, grasses, birds and animals with every number of feet collectively sighed with relief. Most joyously, the rains fell throughout the day of July 19 and stopped just long enough for the Allen County Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalists (OCVN) to hold a meeting at Red Fox Cabin and walk the floodplain and upland forest trails. As the group emerged from the nature preserve and reassembled on the cabin porch for cookies and lemonade, the sky opened up for another dousing. Photographer Peter M. Noyes recorded the OCVN visit. Check out his website at http://www.naturebypete.com/ for that album as well as more from his portfolio. Good stuff all around.

Today was quite literally of a different color. Many colors. A major tie-dye event produced a gallery of hats, shirts, cloths and even a few onesies that are now drying on tree branches and chairs at the neighboring Seitz farmhouse. A few hands were dyed in the process, as pictured above.

 Meanwhile back on the Quarry Farm, the shelter house is rising as a Seitz family crew is now in its third day of adding timber to the pad poured last month. Chief architect and foreman Keith Seitz designed the shelter house to blend aesthetically with the natural environment. The facility will be the site for many future gatherings, workshops and meetings, open to all by reservation appointment.

Making Leaves While the Sun Shines

Putting Burdock to Work

For everyone who wonders why there have been colossal burdock plants flourishing in certain yards in the neighborhood, you can rest easy as the plants have been harvested. The giant leaves from these towering weeds* were reserved for today’s “Art in Nature: Make a Lasting Leaf” workshop on the grounds of The Quarry Farm’s Red Fox Cabin here on Road 7L.

Casting in Concrete

NOAA predicted a hot, dry day without much-needed rain but the shade trees off the front porch kept today’s outdoor studio cool enough to cast leaf-molded birdbaths, bowls and stepping stones. But enough talk. Here are some photos of the Class of June 9, 2012.

If you couldn’t make today’s event, look for upcoming workshops posted in “events”, or get on our emailing list by sending a message saying, “Sign me up for the newsletter” or “Put me on the mailing list” or “Hey, you!” to thequarryfarm@gmail.com.

*Although I’m paraphrasing, a favorite quote says something along the lines that one person’s flower is another man’s weed growing where he doesn’t want it.

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A Brand New Intimidation

For those of you unfamiliar with The Quarry Farm, we’re a small, nonprofit conservation farm and nature preserve located in Riley Township, Putnam County, Ohio, just about halfway between the villages of Ottawa and Pandora. It’s a family operation, as are most undertakings in this little corner of the state. Taking this whole adventure one step further, we’ve decided to start blogging; it seemed the likeliest avenue down which we should optimistically skip. In theory, at least. In fact? Well, that remains to be seen.

As this whole concept ultimately gelled, for me at least, around a small flock of reddish chickens … this, then, and I’ll bow out (for the moment):

red and purple sky
horned owls stir in cottonwoods
in the coop, silence