Talking Turkey

Five wild turkeys ambled through our yard today, not two hundred feet from our home. We frequently hear them in the morning back on the quarry and occasionally see them in the evening, well behind our house, roosting in the cottonwood and walnut trees. They’ve never come this close before, though, and even though I know that they’re simply wandering to and from the soy bean fields across the road and so are likely to pass close by either here or Red Fox Cabin, it still caused me a bit of concern. I worried that they were becoming less wary, less concerned about our presence and, by association, the presence of other people, as well. I worried about the upcoming turkey season and how they’d prove easy targets if they were comfortable around us.

I worried, that is, until I tried to get a photo.

It was Anne who first spotted them and pointed them out to me. They were walking down a path along the tree line that separates the farm part of The Quarry Farm from the nature preserve side. I grabbed my camera and headed out to where Anne had last seen them. I moved to the far side of the tree line and worked my way up the path on the other side, then down the path on our side of the trees. Then up again. Then down. You’re looking at every photo I was able to get. You see them, right? The photographs, here between the lines of black and white text? Yeah, neither do I. That’s because I couldn’t get any. I can’t say that I didn’t see them. I did, at least in bits and pieces: the glide of a blue-gray head; a bronze-feathered body slipping through brush; a quick flash of red from a wattle. But that was all I got, quick glimpses. They ran me round and round an area about the size of an American football field, always on the other side of the field and always virtually concealed in thick scrub. So, no worries about their growing comfortable with humans. And no photos, either, not of turkeys anyway. But, since a picture paints a thousand words, here’s a shot from the winter before last.

It is autumn, though, and there are plenty of other animals moving about. In the back field, a leopard frog boasted better than average camouflage. If it hadn’t jumped, I never would have seen it. In the woods, the last of summer’s dragonflies are torpid with the cold, allowing for some pretty extreme close-ups. Closer to home, in the crabapple tree some thirty feet from our front door, a wheel bug traveled leaf to leaf, hunting an increasingly rare meal.

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Buddy’s Big Day

Tiger in the garden

The Junior Master Gardeners of Continental (Ohio) graced The Quarry Farm with their presence on July 11, the first group to visit since the big wind blew through. Although there are still a couple of downed trees here and there, the paths were clear and mowed in time for the travelers to arrive.

Led by Charlene Finch, the group of 20 adults and children of varying ages drove in around 10 a.m. to beat the afternoon heat. They divided into three groups to rotate through three different learning and activity stations.

Mints and other herbs and flowers are bundled

Group #1 met under the shady zelkova in front of Red Fox Cabin. From Board President Laura they discovered the history of the cabin and the grounds, the gardens and made herb bundles from cuttings gathered there.

Group #2 circled next to the ash stumps, recent victims of the invasive emerald ash borer. This was the perfect spot to hear Steve the Insect Guy talk about stream ecology, perfect because his roundtable included a meet-and-greet with riverine beneficial insects that grow up to combat harmful insects.

Meeting a dragonfly nymph

Group #3 walked to the farm animal sanctuary where they were heartily welcomed by Buddy the miniature donkey. Despite the white-hot rising sun, Buddy held his post at the southwest corner of the paddock and brayed greetings to each group, keeping up the conversation throughout their stay at the station. One volunteer in each group was assigned to pet Buddy so that he would keep quiet long enough for Beatrice the pygmy pot-bellied pig to come out and meet the kids. This event was the first educational outing for Beatrice. She took a special shine to a gentle boy named Brandon, allowing him to feed her a piece of apple. Geese and chickens checked out the group from a distance, as did the goats.

Buddy greets a gardener

After all groups had rotated through the stations, everyone met at the cabin for cookies, lemonade, ice water and a group photo on the front porch. Some strolled through the gardens to see the blooms of drought-tolerant flowers and to scout for butterflies and dragonflies. Many thanks to Board Secretary Rita for photographically recording the event and for sharing them for this post.