The Answer, a Bit Later Than Intended

Perhaps you recall the quiz that wrapped the January 14 post?

flooded bridgeHere’s a little quiz for you: Your eyes and nose present clues that can help you determine cause and effect. We all know that. When you study the photo above of the flooded foot bridge (click for an enlargement) you can see different kinds of plants, trees, and even water. See the stacked foam along the bridge? What does an accumulation of six inches or more of foam along a water body’s edge indicate?”

Thanks to Daryl Bridenbaugh who pointed out that the answer was not forthcoming the following day as noted in the original post, here’s the rest of the story:

A) Too many toad eggs to count

B) Everyone in the tri-county area did laundry today

C) Something smells fishy!

ANSWER: Both B and C. The foam build up on this particular day was piled up above six inches on the bridge and stream bank and did not break apart easily. It smelled musty…kind of like laundry that been left out on a rainy day. However, there was patchy foam floating in the current.

Some of this foam is caused by naturally occurring dissolved organic compounds. Foam that doesn’t build up very high and that breaks apart easily. This kind of foam sometimes smells fishy.

The day-old-wash stuff may be a different story. It can be a sign of human activity, including detergents and excess nutrients that can increase algae growth, more suspended solids and lower dissolved oxygen for the fish, insects and everything else that makes its living in the aquatic food chain.

Sometimes you don’t need a chemical test kit to get an idea what’s flowing downstream. Just use your eyes, ears and nose. If they tell you something’s fishy (and not in a good way), then it’s time to take a closer look for the source.

For more detailed reading, visit http://www.umaine.edu/WaterResearch/FieldGuide/onthewater.htm.

Looking for White Cat

We’ve been busy here. You’ve been busy there, wherever your ‘there’ may be. So much going on that, like me, you are in danger of missing the gold-tinged greens and amethysts of ebbing August, at least as it is here on the Quarry Farm.

I did almost miss it. We have caught a smattering of the sunsets, the kind that include that frosted-animal-cookie pink. But any noticing has been as we walked past a window or distributed hay to Buddy, Marsh and S’more or put the hens to bed. Then one of us left a door unhinged enough that Beatrice opened the front door and let the cat out.

Although we do have several cats, it was White Cat that slipped out. White Cat is deaf as are many white male cats. While there are plenty of dashing, flying and sparkly sorts of things in the outside to entertain a house cat, there are even more along Cranberry Run and in a 50-acre woods that will feast on feline. One that can’t hear a predator approach is especially vulnerable. So we looked high and low for White Cat. And as we did, we caught late summer.

Wild plums ripen

The wild plums are ripening on the nature preserve. Some hang at eye level beside the rich yellow Jerusalem artichokes and purple ironweed on the stream bank. Most plums are rose gold, but some are beginning to flush to mauve. For the first time, Steve will be able to make wild plum preserves to sell at the Quarry Farm table at the Farmer’s Market. (Warning: shameless plug for funding ahead.) Reserve your jar now through the Gift Shop!

Jewelweed, nature’s cure for the maddening itch imposed by poison ivy, is in bloom in the floodplain. The algae growth that plagues Cranberry Run, as well as most of Northwest Ohio’s waterways, is camouflaged by shimmers of sunlight that ignite the riffles. Higher up, the sun itself glows through the tired summer leaves, although the sunlight is cooling from the white hot of June and July. Better and better.

Bushel gourd on the vine

Down low, bushel gourds swell under huge vine leaves. Recent rains have brought on a good crop. The leaves have already been used this summer in a stepping stone workshop. More will be made before the vines wither in frost. The chickens and Johnny the Canada goose find this ground-level search fascinating, especially since disturbed vines yield fat, juicy crickets.

Wounded White Cat and Birdy nose

Even lower, under Buddy’s barn, White Cat is found. The roosters knew he was there; it just took the obtuse humans two days to figure it out. He has earned himself a gash under one eye and a limp, injuries probably inflicted by Buddy. Back in the house, White Cat is thoroughly sniffed before he settles himself in for a good grooming. Outside, the finches and field mice can peacefully ready themselves for the cold months. We will remember to notice.