Winter Project Rain Dance

The scent of raindrops are in the air. Did you know you can watch the nature preserve bridge project from Google Earth? Engineer David does.

We do need rain/snow—maybe not all at once, but it is frighteningly pleasant for January in Northwest Ohio. The National Weather Service reports that we will have it as long as that green band of precipitation doesn’t rapidly shift southeast.

Board President Laura recalled the burnt toast odor that permeated the outdoors during the Summer of 1988. I remember that, as well as the smell of decay. As I ran the trails at Wildwood Metropark in Toledo, a doe walked out of the woodland of dried leaves and cracked soil. She didn’t run but feinted a few steps into the tree line and back out again. I have always regretted not following her. There was little I could do at the time to help, but I could have offered. I think of her every time I try to do so now.

How easily what is happening in Australia could happen to us. Our inland waterways could save us, as long as we save them.

Speaking of which, stellar Friend of The Quarry Farm Dave is forging ahead with his efforts to protect the old stone quarry wetland from sediment overload produced during flood events. The land bridge between Cranberry Run and the quarry provided a great nighttime path for the Girl Scouts last month, with the young explorers spotting fish and all manner of shadows through the thin film of ice over the stream. This spring, participants in water and plant quality studies to contrast the wetland and the Run will now have a flagstone deck. Here’s the latest from our favorite engineer:

“Nice day down by the quarry. Built up the bank a bit, at the north side of the culvert. Just wasn’t wide enough. Shoveled about 2 hours. Wide enough now.

Started putting flat stones on the path, so it was not so muddy. Is better, but needs more flat stones.  Also, they need to settle in, so they don’t wobble. Need to be walked on, I guess.
Last hour I dug up a few honeysuckle, just to the south of the quarry, along the east side of  the creek. One really big one, just for the experience. Mattock is better now that it is sharpened.”
Saturday’s rain will likely put a damper on our scheduled January 11 Full Moon Hike. Look for it to be rescheduled. How cool it will be to see the night sky reflected in riffles over one shoulder and in the still pool of a wetland surface over the other.

Try this at home

I keep getting offers for winter getaways to someplace(s) warm and sunny; blossomy and sun-kissed. I could sail away in a hotel on the water—a hotel of the sea with a chlorinated pool suspended several stories above the ocean’s surface. I could languish on a groomed beach with a drink in each hot little hand.

No thank you. I doubt that any flu shot will stave off the no-see-ums contained within those floating marine petri dishes. And beaches are best wild and untamed.

My feet do miss the feel of warm grass splayed beneath and between their toes. Steve came dancing inside before this morning’s sunrise. He had been gifting Nemo with her morning potato, thinking that his bare feet wouldn’t object too painfully to the inch of snow on the deck. Certainly not for a journey of several giant steps. They did take umbrage. I’m sure we will both do it again before spring because shoes can be such a pain, you know?

A friend who feels oncoming winter with and intense shade of mental gray was lamenting the cold season. “One more winter; I can do this.” Daylight is short and temperatures low. Time is lost to layering clothes and the aforementioned shoes. Flowers and leaves are shriveled to husks that whisper in wind chill.

There are still flowers, tiny blooms of sorts that bud with the cool humidity.

And there are leaves, of sorts, upon lost leaves.

The donkeys and goats, stand with their faces to the sun, eyelids half-mast. Their winter coats are woolly with prisms of guard hair. The turkeys and chickens turn the snow and dried leaves for stray seeds and insects that surface in the insulated layers near to the ground. Their winter feed is higher in protein than in the summer, but they prefer the diverse smorgasborg sustained in leaf matter. The roosters stand guard in their feathered jackets, like sentinels in coats embroidered in jewel-tone threads.

And the sunsets…you just have to be there.

When an illustrated print or pattern is framed as home decor, the accompanying mat is usually selected to highlight s color from the piece or to match the floorcover or curtains. A work of art—now that’s a different story. A work of art is matted in white or black. Black and white are not colors because they do not have specific wavelengths. Instead, white light contains all wavelengths of visible light. Black, on the other hand, is the absence of visible light. A work of art stands alone. Winter is the mat for nature’s art.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I have enough sweaters to frequent this Northwest Ohio gallery. I’m sending you a scarf, Russ.

Snitch switchery

20190406_193749Tonight’s Golden Snitch Walk was called on account of no snitches. In mid-March the evening air was buzzing with them. As I closed the gate on evening chores, two American Woodcocks–the absolute model for J.K. Rowling’s glittery winged ball, or I’ll eat my Ravenclaw hat–twisted in their funnel-cloud dance not more than 20 feet above me.

Then it got cold; freezy enough for S’more to agree to keep his thermal goat coat strapped on just a little while longer.

Our first scheduled woodcock walk was windy and chilly. We saw deer and Indian hemp, counted birds and tracks. But snitches were nowhere to be seen or heard. That didn’t changeover the next few weeks. I told the April 6 preregistrants that the birds had come and gone for 2019.

20190406_193434.jpg

This dead tree is home to woodpeckers, fungi and all sorts of creatures.

Snitches aside, today was a gorgeous day; the first real spring day that we’ve had since one random warm breath in March. I walked the planned walk route, dipping a net into the quarry. Its waters team with dragonfly and damselfly nymphs, snails and shrimpish scuds. No mosquito larvae dare swim near the predatory odonata; such is the beauty of a healthy wetland.20190406_191719

2019-04-06 22.01.57No frog egg masses string the surface yet. There are frogs and toads clucking, burring and trilling from the quarry’s edge northeast across the vernal pools of Coburn’s Bottom to the property line at Riley Creek. All those Hey-Baby-Baby-Babies mean tadpoles are brewing in the slurry. A toad hops across the trail in front of me, not a snitch but gold all the same from the lowering sun and amphibian afterglow.

Two Canada geese sail in for the night, skidding across the quarry’s still surface. The ripples haven’t yet subsided when a small flock of wood ducks join them. I hurry along the path to bridge Cranberry Run so as not to scare them away. I’ve just climbed the hill and am up and out of the preserve when, behind me, I hear an airborne whistling.

“PE-E-E-ENT!”

I look up to see a winged softball arc over the quarry.

Show-off.20190406_191705

Winter 2018-2019 Newsletter

All The Quarry Farm news that is fit to print, or at least all the news that we could fit on an 11″ x 17″ piece of piece of paper printed on both sides, is being printed as we speak. But don’t wait for hard copy. Click on the cover here and the electronic version right now.

One thing we would like to add is to watch for announcement for weekend Star Walks. We try conduct these during a new moon so that we can see a lot of stars. It’s tough to plan these ahead of time because of the weather. Look for announcements a couple of days before on The Quarry Farm Facebook page for Star Walks on:
• Saturday, January 5
• Saturday, February 2
• Saturday, March 3

Sebastian

20180724_071901With great sadness, we report the death of Sebastian from a probable stroke in mid-August. No one knows just how old this miniature skunk was, as he was found in a tiny cage in a basement in Northeast Ohio during a home intervention. Estimates are anywhere from four to six years of age.

Northeast Ohio rescue Skunk Haven liberated him, nourished his famished little body and allowed us to adopt him as an educational ambassador for his kind. We first met this beautiful soul at a gathering of skunk friends near Lake Erie. They shared stories that reflected their love and understanding of this much-maligned animal. We were honored by the opportunity to learn more through interaction with a skunk in our own place along Cranberry Run.

Sebastian bounced, scrambled and cuddled his little self into his new digs on The Quarry Farm. He loved the new outside run we installed this spring, enjoying the open air on coolish days. He increased tolerance for skunks everywhere during the brief time he was with us. He certainly touched lives, including those he met this June at the Putnam County District Library branches. He certainly made a difference in ours.

when the trees are sobbing faintly

There was a chair in my grandparents’ house. It was a nondescript stool with a square burgundy seat mounted on four iron legs. It was the kind that you could spin in circles. You could push off with your feet or lay face down across it and turn, walking the circle with fingertips to the floor.

I spent a lot of childhood in that house. One warm summer evening, while Grandpa was in the milkhouse and Gran was making Jersey milkshakes for after chores, I sat on that stool and watched Silent Running, a 1972 environmentally-themed American post-apocalyptic science fiction film starring Bruce Dern. I sobbed as Earth’s last forest traveled out of reach.

As a teen, I sat in Gran’s kitchen and bit my nails while she talked with a caller at the back door. The visitor wanted to buy the property located a mile east of the farm, the 50 acres of woods and stream where Grandpa pastured senior calves in summer. I knew they could use the funds from a sale. I was so afraid that this last forest would be gone.

“No thank you. We don’t wish to sell it,” she said to this offer and to many others.

Carl and Joyce Seitz were my grandparents. My grandfather was a dreamer; a handsome rake who was a lover of books. He was a college graduate, but the farm fell to him while the country was dealing with depression and world war. He would drive a tractor and whistle. My grandmother, a college grad, too, was a stylish beauty who became a farmer’s wife. They raised eight children in that farmhouse. In the warm months, the family sometimes picnicked along the creek that flowed through that 50 acres to the east. In winter, they skated on the old flooded stone quarry there.

For as long as I can remember, that place has been called “The Quarry Farm.”

We lost Grandpa 25 years ago. Today, we lost Gran. Because they both valued the black walnut, maple and oak trees that grow here, the dogtooth violets, mayapples, bloodroot and spring beauties on the ridge and in the floodplain–because they were educators and dreamers–The Quarry Farm is still here.

11845208_10207924019201794_3438920111096809137_oDuring a trip home from university, one of my uncles looked out the kitchen window in time to see Gran hand-feeding a skunk. Two weeks ago, I took Sebastian the Skunk to visit her. Gran would have celebrated 101 years in November, but she was sharp as a tack and delighted in ‘Bastian as well as what we do here.

Chryssy the Cat climbs on my lap now. She shared that farmhouse, the one where we all climbed trees, made mud pies, collected fireflies in a jar, photographed migrating monarchs in the trees, and where our Gran worked art in her kitchen while teaching us to reach for the whole world outside.

http://www.lovefuneralhome.com/notices/Miriam-Seitz