One pumpkin to go

Inigo and FezzikHours before predicted temperature drops, 25 m.p.h. wind gusts, rain, snow and sleet (sneet), Inigo and Fezzik are finishing off the last of a frost-softened pumpkin. Marsh (upper right) worked his way through the dregs of another inside the paddock. Beatrice is just out of the frame, strings of orange squash trailing from either side of her jaws.

NOAA tells us that this latest roller coaster ride in the weather is due sometime this evening. For now, the air is mild enough for the hens, geese and goats to forage, and for Jo to caw at them from her window.

They do know something is coming, though, without Internet access. The animals are connected to everything in a way that humans lost long ago. So we watch them dance across the browned grass as they snatch seeds and midges that hatched in the warmth of last night. This is one clue that cold and wet is on its way. Another is the very fact that Marsh is in the paddock and not lazing with the other goats under the pines. He is keeping close to the shelter of a warm donkey and an east-facing outer wall.

One pumpkin is in storage, so to speak, under the roof of the pavilion beside Red Fox Cabin. That will be a treat to put out when the weather breaks on Sunday. That’s what the National Weather Service predicts, anyway. We’ll watch the animals on Saturday and let them make the final call.

The Quarry Farm Fall 2013 Newsletter

2013 Fall Newsletter-2Although predictions cast doubt on fall color in the Midwest, The Quarry Farm summer was brilliant. Fall is pretty fantastic, too. Check out the latest newsletter by clicking on the cover imaged here.

You don’t have to be a star (but it’s really fun)

The new greenhouse north of Red Fox Cabin was of interest to the Owens class as they are considering one of this size for a butterfly house.

The new greenhouse north of Red Fox Cabin was of interest to the Owens class as they are considering one of this size for a butterfly house.

Been awhile, but with good cause. Seems as though weekly (or biweekly) posts may be the new norm of spring at the Quarry Farm.

On May 29, seven people from Owens Community College, Toledo Campus, drove down I-75 and made their way here, despite the Road 7L sign being missing from the turn off State Route 12. Jeannie Wiley Wolf, Findlay Courier reporter, almost didn’t find us to do an interview for an article that appeared in that newspaper on May 28. Steve says the sign mysteriously disappeared some time ago. Anyway, Owens’ Associate Professor Joanne Roehrs got the van here.

Owens2The students are working to obtain the Urban Agriculture and Sustainability Certificate, a new offering at Owens. All of them have sweat-equity in the urban community gardens in Toledo, especially in the Robert J. Anderson Agriculture Training Center and greenhouses (900 Oneida Street; Toledo, OH 43608) which are projects of Toledo GROWs, the community gardening outreach program of Toledo Botanical Garden. The Anderson Center is used as an educational forum for Owens Community College students who are studying urban agriculture. The Center is also an open-air classroom where under-privileged youth are educated on growing sustainable nourishment.

While on the Quarry, Roehrs and her Livestock Animal Husbandry students focused on the organic gardening projects, the wild bee boxes and the farm animal sanctuary. They study beekeeping through the hives at the Anderson Center. We were able to tell them what not to do with bees, from firsthand experience, and of plans for new bees in 2014. Beatrice of the whirligig tail was our model sanctuary adoption success story as she greeted all with charming, intelligent porcine loveliness.

If you are, or know of someone who is looking at new, relevant career option investment, this is a program to explore: http://catalog.owens.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=3&poid=634&returnto=158

From that point until 11:59 a.m. on June 6, preparations were made for the arrival and tour of 90 individuals, mostly K-8 graders, from Columbus Grove Local Schools’ after-school summer program. For coverage of that Quarry Farm landmark event, I’ll let the press do the talking. Diane Myer of Black Swamp Raptor Rehabilitation Center, Stacey Cook of Hometown Station WLIO, Nancy Kline of the Voice and Alex Woodring of the Putnam County Sentinel, volunteers Cathy, Shannon, Jonelle, Brendon, Cherie and Dakota, you all wear superhero capes. As long as the links hold, here’s the news from June 6:

Putnam County Sentinel: http://putnamsentinel.com/main.asp?SectionID=1&SubSectionID=1&ArticleID=15695

The Lima News/Putnam Voice: http://www.limaohio.com/news/putnam_county/article_8053fd5a-cf9d-11e2-807c-0019bb30f31a.html
plus photo gallery: http://limanews.mycapture.com/mycapture/enlarge.asp?image=47607266&event=1665851&CategoryID=65761

Couldn’t ask for more. Maybe sleep. But that’s OK, more than OK. As WLIO’s anchor Jeff Fitzgerald noted, “They say it should  be shared.” And we do.

This One’s for the Dogs (and the Opossum)

Rowan and OpossumIt’s been a bit longer than we like between posts. But since spring is finally here (knock on wood) you will forgive us since you, like us, are probably running around in today’s sunshine before tonight’s predicted rain.

Silence on the web does not mean it’s been quiet for The Quarry Farm. The new chicks are growing, as is the grass for Buddy and the goats. Fezzik and Inigo are displaying for every female fowl that could conceivably give them the time of day. Inconceivable? Not so for the little red hen that follows Fezzik around. The wild turkey hens on the nature preserve could care less, however.

Eventwise, The Quarry Farm has been on the road for the last couple of weekends. Saturday, April 20 took us up I-75 into Michigan for the Monroe Conservation District Tree Sale. Tim Kwiatkowski, good friend and conservationist for Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP), invited us, and an assortment of aquatic macroinvertebrates from Cranberry Run as well as an opossum that matured overwinter here, to be part of the Monroe County Earth Day celebration that was held alongside the tree sale pickup.

It was cold and the wind blew. Despite the weather thousands of trees were sold and the buyers learned a little about biological indicators and that Virginia opossums are fantastic garbage collectors. Some even decided the little guy was cute.

He was cute. And we assume he still is, wherever his nomadic opossum ways take him. Once the evenings warmed toward the middle of the week he finally ventured out of his open hutch and into the wild.

Cassie

Cassie poses

Today, we had a short drive to the 6th Annual Mutt Strut and Craft Market sponsored by Putnam Pet Pals to benefit the homeless and neglected dogs of Putnam County and Northwest Ohio. They do good work and put on a great, loud show every year at the Putnam County Fairgrounds. Last year we set up a table at the Strut; it turned out to be one of the best offsite events that The Quarry Farm has ever been part of as we handed out packs of newsletters, talked to some amazing, compassionate people, and produced more canine caricatures than we could track. Although this year’s weather was sunny and warm, a day for breeding garage sales and other such competitions for public attention, the fairground was still hopping.

Better make that barking.

Good times.

Talking Turkey

Ready For Love

Ready For Love

It’s spring, the time of year when love is in the air, or, as Walt Disney put it, when all the animals are twitterpated. Insofar as The Quarry Farm is concerned, noboby shows their love quite so dramatically as the two bronze turkeys we recently took in. The fact that both birds are male hasn’t dampened their ardor. Not one bit. They strut about the property, feathers fluffed and tails fanned, gobbling for all they’re worth. But it’s their heads that provide the real entertainment.

Not in the mood

Not in the mood

Turkeys, both wild and domestic, have two prominent features on and about their heads: wattles and snoods. The wattle hangs below the beak while the snood sprouts from the cere just above the bony part of the beak. During peak periods of romantic interest, both the snood and the wattle fill up with blood and turn bright red. Contrarily, when they’re scared, tired or simply don’t find you attractive, both features turn a grayish blue.

The Unbearable Lightness of Turkeys

Rear ViewDon’t let the turkeys get you down. Have you seen this thing? A simple drawing by Sandra Boynton of an elephant driven to its knees by six or seven of the aforementioned birds? It was everywhere for a while a long while ago (and apparently lives on as t-shirts, coffee mugs, posters and greeting cards; but, then, everything that ever was still is somewhere on the internet).

The message was simple: any troubles you have are analogous to turkeys and you shouldn’t let them get you down, those darn turkeys.

Big GuyYeah? Well, bunk. While I suppose that there are some turkeys out there that are a constant headache, that would do everything in their power to make a person’s life absolutely miserable, the turkeys with which I’ve interacted have been a pure joy. Case in point, the two newest residents at The Quarry Farm.

A couple of months ago, Laura Zitzelberger, operations director at Nature’s Nursery Center for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation Education, contacted us about possibly taking in three bronze turkeys that had been seen wandering in a residential neighborhood in Toledo. And, while three were spotted, once volunteers from the center arrived on-scene, only two were found. Of the two, one was suffering from a variety of injuries (the consequence of getting on the wrong side of a dog). So, after Inigo, Willow and Fezzikrehabbing the bird and determining absolutely that these were indeed domestic and not wild turkeys (bronzes bear a remarkable resemblence to their undomesticated cousins), they contacted us late last week and made arrangements for us to pick them up.

We bundled them into the back of Rowan’s Subaru Forester and made the hour long trek back south to Putnam County where we set them up in the same run as Johnny, the Canada goose, and Andi, the Pekin duck. During the whole of the trip, despite being unceremoniously lifted from the home they had come to know and dragged into a whole new situation, not once did either bird make more than an idle and near-inaudible complaint.

So here they are now, these two birds we’ve dubbed Fezzik and Inigo. And glad we are that they’re here.