Today’s Quarry Farm Friday, Starring Sophie

This morning at 10 a.m., the first of this summer’s Quarry Farm Fridays went live. Sophie the Pot-bellied Pig was the featured guest (Steven was there, too). We know that this little pig is a star. Now lots more people do, too.

Most Fridays at 10 a.m. through the summer, you can watch The Quarry Farm Animal of the Week on The Quarry Farm’s Facebook Live. This video will be posted later in the day on both the Bluffton Public Library’s and The Quarry Farm’s Facebook pages and websites. Once the video goes live, there will be themed Animal Book Bundles available for Curbside Pickup at the Bluffton Public Library by request (while they last). Request an Animal Book Bundle using the library’s Curbside Pickup page at blufftonpubliclibrary.org/pickup or by calling the library at 419-358-5016.

Summer 2020 Newsletter

The following is an excerpt from the Summer 2020 Quarry Farm Newsletter. Click on the cover to the left to download your complete copy, including scheduled events and activities for the season.

As it did for everyone, March 2020 threw The Quarry Farm for a loop, upending plans for programs, school group visits and public workshops. But we know this is nothing compared to what others have gone through. Indeed, the nature preserve has been a refuge with ample opportunity for social distancing.

Just before the State of Ohio announced stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of the coronavirus, The Quarry Farm Board of Directors was able to conduct the annual meeting on January 16. A major goal for the new decade is to develop a clearly marked trail system on the nature preserve, complete with directional markers and trailhead signage that includes a map. Board member Paul Nusbaum went to work this spring on a new trail that loops through the north eastern floodplain. This low scrub area is perfect habitat for migratory warblers. Board member Deb Weston, an avid birder, discovered the value of the new trail along with fellow birder David Smith. On one birding venture on the new path, they found themselves spinning in circles to identify all of the different species of birds singing their travelling hearts out. On that May morning, just one of the early-rise walks Deb spent here with her binoculars and eBird app, they identified and recorded 57 avian species.

“That’s the beauty of The Quarry Farm,” she said. “You don’t have to walk 20 miles to be in the different habitats and see the birds that utilize them.” During this “Stay Home” time, The Quarry Farm has provided a place for a lot of people to social distance while volunteering their time and talents to help out here. Just before local schools shuttered doors in March, Miller City-New Cleveland High School student Emma Barlage registered as The Quarry Farm’s Spring intern. From March through May, Emma spent up to 20 hours per week lopping and pulling bush honeysuckle saplings and seedlings. Findlay’s Rich and Nora Park offered to help out, too. With Emma assigned to the northwest hillsides and floodplain, the Parks’ to the uplands east of the old stone quarry, and David Seitz continuing his work in the south (see back page), we are watching native trees and wildflowers emerge along the trails almost overnight.

As noted above, this season has not gone according to plan. However, with social distancing and sanitizer at the ready, we have continued to provide tours and offer programs for individual families and small groups, by appointment. In early May, a Girl Scout troop from Leipsic came here to earn their hiking badges. As they climbed out of the Riley Creek floodplain toward the grass prairie, two large fluffy feathered great horned owl fledglings bobbed in a black walnut at eye level. In June, a Bluffton Boy Scout Troop came to hike. Hike they did, down, up and around almost every trail, including those not traversed by most visiting groups. We looked for the nesting pair of Scarlet Tanagers with no luck, but we did see a male Baltimore Oriole bobbing amongst the aquatic plants on the quarry wetland.

There is a tremendous amount of golf cart traffic in front of the farm animal sanctuary fence. Chablis the Llama sits placidly under the pines at sunset, blinking her long lashes at the onlookers. If you wish to schedule an outdoor visit onsite during Summer 2020, send an email to thequarryfarm@gmail.com.

Deb and David’s Ultimate Bird List (for now)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Quarry Farm Nature Preserve and Conservation Farm

May 21, 2020
7:56 AM
Traveling
2.41 miles
222 Minutes
All birds reported? Yes
Comments: Submitted from eBird for iOS, version 2.0.13 Build 2.0.1222 Canada Goose
1 Wood Duck
1 Mourning Dove
3 Chimney Swift
1 Killdeer
1 Great Blue Heron
2 Turkey Vulture
1 Belted Kingfisher
3 Red-bellied Woodpecker
1 Downy Woodpecker
1 Hairy Woodpecker
2 Northern Flicker
3 Eastern Wood-Pewee
1 Willow Flycatcher
1 Least Flycatcher
2 Eastern Phoebe
1 Great Crested Flycatcher
1 Blue-headed Vireo — Wingbars, blue head with very distinct bespectacled eyering.
1 Red-eyed Vireo
4 Blue Jay
2 Carolina Chickadee
2 Barn Swallow
2 White-breasted Nuthatch
2 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
6 House Wren
2 Carolina Wren
4 European Starling
8 Gray Catbird
1 Swainson’s Thrush
2 Wood Thrush
6 American Robin
1 House Finch
4 American Goldfinch
2 Field Sparrow
2 Song Sparrow
1 Eastern Meadowlark
5 Orchard Oriole
3 Baltimore Oriole
4 Red-winged Blackbird
6 Brown-headed Cowbird
7 Common Grackle
1 Prothonotary Warbler
1 Tennessee Warbler
3 Common Yellowthroat
3 American Redstart
1 Cape May Warbler
1 Northern Parula
3 Magnolia Warbler
5 Bay-breasted Warbler
1 Blackburnian Warbler
4 Yellow Warbler
2 Chestnut-sided Warbler
1 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
1 Scarlet Tanager
4 Northern Cardinal
3 Rose-breasted Grosbeak
2 Indigo Bunting
Number of Taxa: 57 (plus Mr. Muskrat)

Deb and David and the Giant Avian Adventure

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Quarry Farm Nature Preserve and Conservation Farm
May 20, 2020
8:44 AM
Traveling
2.77 miles
281 Minutes
All birds reported? Yes
Comments: Submitted from eBird for iOS, version 2.0.13 Build 2.0.122

2 Canada Goose
1 Mallard
2 Mourning Dove
1 Common Nighthawk
1 Ruby-throated Hummingbird
2 Great Blue Heron
4 Turkey Vulture
1 Cooper’s Hawk
1 Red-tailed Hawk
1 Red-headed Woodpecker
2 Red-bellied Woodpecker
1 Downy Woodpecker
1 Northern Flicker
1 Willow Flycatcher
1 Least Flycatcher
1 Eastern Phoebe
1 Great Crested Flycatcher
1 Philadelphia Vireo
1 Warbling Vireo
2 Red-eyed Vireo
4 Blue Jay
1 Carolina Chickadee
1 Barn Swallow
2 White-breasted Nuthatch
4 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
4 House Wren
4 Gray Catbird
3 Swainson’s Thrush
2 Wood Thrush
4 American Robin
1 American Goldfinch
1 Chipping Sparrow
1 Field Sparrow
1 Song Sparrow
1 Orchard Oriole
1 Baltimore Oriole
2 Brown-headed Cowbird
2 Common Grackle
1 Golden-winged Warbler
2 Black-and-white Warbler
2 Tennessee Warbler
1 Nashville Warbler
2 Common Yellowthroat
6 American Redstart
1 Cape May Warbler
1 Northern Parula
2 Magnolia Warbler
1 Blackburnian Warbler
1 Yellow Warbler
1 Chestnut-sided Warbler
1 Blackpoll Warbler
3 Scarlet Tanager
2 Northern Cardinal
1 Rose-breasted Grosbeak
3 Indigo Bunting

Note: An additional sighting, a Gray-cheeked Thrush, was confirmed this evening, bringing today’s birding boo-yah! to 56 species.

Global Big Day 2020

Orchard oriole

May 9 is the biggest day in birding this year. As it’s just 9:30 p.m., it still “is” even though the wind tonight is wild and wooly and no self-respecting owl is going to land in the bowed cottonwood outside the window before midnight.

Female cardinal

I don’t know birds. Rather, I have met a few and we got along well. I could pick them out in a crowd. But I don’t recognize many wild birds by call or even by sight unless they are posing neatly at eye level. For the blessed luck and good of all, Deb Weston is a frequent Quarry Farm flyer who helps us see beyond the cardinals, chickadees and house finches at the bird feeders and into the high canopy for warblers, kinglets and other birds who are presently passing through these parts.

Black-throated blue warbler

Not that there is anything less than splendid about the birds we are most familiar with. Deb shared a stunning shot of a fluorescent-beaked female cardinal gathering nesting material from a clutch of honey locust thorns. On the same day, however, she photographed a black-throated blue warbler perched on a rope of grapevine. Along the way, she digitized an orchard oriole singing it’s heart out and a mourning cloak butterfly. Because butterflies are seemingly as confused by climate change as humans are, they are arriving here or emerging from their winter quarters with no food in sight. When Deb shared the butterfly photo, it was a sight for sore eyes.

Mourning cloak butterfly

Just as nature around the world is reveling in the cleaner air and water that’s a result of human lockdown, wild things are going about their business unimpeded here in the Back 40. On Friday night a small group of Girl Scouts spread out along the trails to earn their trailblazing badges. As they climbed out of the Riley Creek floodplain toward the grass prairie, two large fluffy feathered great horned owl fledglings bobbed in a black walnut at eye level. Their parent murmured a short distance away, waiting for us to move along our earthbound way.

Check out eBird for a complete list of bird species identified here on The Quarry Farm.

Duck Duck Group!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Donkey from Pandora sanctuary now taking virtual meetings (also pigs, peacocks and more)

PANDORA—Does your virtual office need a captivating key-note squeaker? The Quarry Farm Nature Preserve & Conservation Farm, Pandora, is inviting business, organizations, schools and senior living facilities to pull out a virtual chair at their video conference meetings and events for one or more of our farm animal sanctuary residents. We call this fun experience “Duck Duck Group” even though our peaceable kingdom is also home to donkeys, pigs, goats, turkeys, ducks and chickens. None of them wear pants, so the will fit right in at your next webinar.

Are your whiskers twitching? Call 419-384-7195 or email thequarryfarm@gmail.com to schedule the time and date of your “Duck Duck Group” experience. We can use any virtual meeting software you prefer. You will be asked to send us a link during the scheduling process. We will join your call and do a quick introduction of The Quarry Farm. You can ask us questions about particular animals or experience a virtual gallop through the whole herd.

The cost is $50 for a 10-minute “Duck Duck Group”. All “Duck Duck Group” proceeds support the work of The Quarry Farm by:

· Making it possible for the sanctuary animals, many of whom began their lives in fear and neglect, to reside here in peace with proper shelter.

· Providing species-specific food and bedding for sanctuary farm animals and fostered wildlife.

· Maintaining the nature preserve trails and control invasive plant species on the preserve and in the Red Fox Cabin gardens.

· Helping to provide quality educational programming in science, the arts, Ohio history and critical thinking.

· Contributing to the development and installation of interpretive signage.

The Quarry Farm Nature Preserve & Conservation Farm is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization. For more information, visit www.thequarryfarm.org and The Quarry Farm on Facebook and Instagram.

Bridging quarantine

“Stay Home” on these 50 acres doesn’t mean channel surfing. Well, maybe there’s a bit of that after sunsets or during thunderstorms like the one we are having right now. Since the first day of #stayathome, several more hands have joined Dave’s wage of war against bush honeysuckle and tree-downing grapevine on the nature preserve. He and his daughter Aili were back at it on sunny Monday, chainsawing and moving mountainous boulders to bridge the southern ford across Cranberry Run.
Dave’s April 6, 2020 message:
“Was a pretty fun day at the QF with Aili, with a bit of work done, too. Her first time to see the quarry full of water. For Aili, having the geese, the turtles, the muskrat, frogs, crawdads, and snakes all come out was a treat.  I’m still amazed!  We also got the stepping stones put in place at the ford, and a couple hours of honeysuckle clearing in the far south end, by the oxbow ponds.”
Spring/Summer intern Emma has jumped right into the fray, lopping invasive shrub limbs and pulling seedlings. Deb and her nephew Kyle erected another blue bird box. There was one flash of blue yesterday, so someone is at home. Bloodroot is popping up and the first spring beauties dot the banks of the old quarry, beautifully framing the first painted turtles to sun themselves in plain sight this season.

‘Still representing my roots!’

It’s nice to get mail.

It’s especially good when it’s a shout-out from someone who shares a passion for what is near and dear to the recipient. Jonelle Meyer spent time here while she was a student at Ottawa-Glandorf High School. When she wasn’t in school or serving as a Toledo ZooTeen, she was grooming shaggy Buddy the donkey or helping with visiting groups. Jonelle graduated in 2014 then barely broke stride by receiving her BS in biology in 2017 from Lourdes Universty. She moved to California in May that year and never looks back—except when she does.

Yesterday she did just that. Up popped a message for us, with a photo of Jonelle wearing her Quarry Farm shirt backstage at Turtle Bay Exploration Park in Redding, CA. As an animal trainer there, she works with rehabilitated wildlife, performs in animal shows and participates in programming. Like so many high-trafficked places this Spring, Turtle Bay is closed to the public. But the behind-the-scenes show goes on, with animals relying on the love, attention and understanding of caretakers like Jonelle.

No pictures, please

As Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton so eloquently said regarding the present pandemic, we humans are waking up to life. While we blink sleep from our eyes, life goes on around us.

Here on The Quarry Farm, bush honeysuckle whacking is a means to social-distance ourselves during Ohio’s StayHome proclamation. At this pace we may see the forest for the invasive trees this year. As David Seitz works his way south from the old stone quarry, Paul Nusbaum is clearing A new walking trail to skirt the ancient homestead well, Riley Creek, and the Bottom’s rich vernal pools. That area is a quiet shelter for migrating songbirds. As I took out my own pandemic fear and frustration on bush honeysuckle and a [gasp/horror/curses] privet I found at the northern-most point of the nature preserve, a Black and White Warbler eyeballed me from the top of a small maple. My camera and phone sat safely at home on the kitchen counter so the only image I can share with you is a description of a dainty bird, striped black and white from beak to tail.

The aforementioned lack of camera is the lead in to the story that I saved for sharing on a rainy day. Thunder rolls outside today and heavy downpours turning clear Cranberry Run the creamy brown of the surrounding fields, so here goes. I present to you a tale filled with suspense, partial nudity and a happy ending.

It was a dark and cloudy Wednesday night. Somewhere in the darkness, a domestic fowl uttered a strangled cry. Fergus the Tree Walker Coonhound scrambled to his feet, baying all the way down the stairs. I stumbled along behind, forgetting my eyeglasses on the nightstand. Fergus blew out the front door and down the driveway. Quinn Fox wove through the hound’s floppy Muppet feet, emerging through the tangle with Gerald the Rooster in her jaws. I screeched at her to “drop it!” She did! Fearing the worst, I carried a limp Gerald into the house. He had a heartbeat, so I left him in the bathroom basin and ran back outside, trading Fergus for Cady the Pitbull because Cady is quieter at 2:00 a.m. than an excited hound dog. My Steven was now in the fray, tracking Quinn with the flashlight app on his cell.

I was in a shortie. Steve wore a t-shirt and boxers. Our shoes and my eyesight were in the house. It was maybe 40 degrees on March 25 in Northwest Ohio.

We took turns going back inside to grab shoes, jackets and cheddar cheese. After much fun and games on Quinn’s part, the little red streak took refuge under the front porch. Steve shown light under the deck while I crawled under, cheese in my cold little fist. Since Quinn likes cheese and there is no soft pillow under the porch, she was ripe for reclamation. Once she was back in the warm house with Fergus and Cady, Steve spotted a wet mound of gray fur at the point of the Fergus/Quinn collision. A young Virginia Opossum lay there. Its tongue lolled on the grass and its legs curled in little clawed fists. We stared at it in the beam of the cell light, surmising that the marsupial had probably climbed up in the roosting box shared by Gerald and Arthur and startled Gerald into mad flight. While we watched, the dead creature blinked. Steve carried him/her down the hill and into the woods.

As far as we know, the opossum is fine. Quinn, Fergus and Cady are fine. Gerald was standing in the basin by 2:10 and is fine. That bird has the nine lives of a cat. We figure that, between picking fights with Arthur, predator encounters and a past life as a cockfighting rooster, he’s depleted his store of vivacity by at least half. Steve and I, however, ran through any amount of dignity we ever had long ago.