Finding the bees’ knees

DSC_1009This is a year of dragons. Saddlebags, skimmers, twelve-spots and white tales dive-bomb the farm animal sanctuary yard, plucking mosquitoes before they latch onto exposed skin. It has been stupid-hot of late, enough to keep the dragonflies under cover at mid-day. But in the evening, their wings shimmer position for hovering and steep dives.

Rain came today. No dot-com could have predicted this more accurately that the four bats that wheeled over the paddock at dusk; three more than we usually see when the chickens, turkeys and ducks are tucked in for the hungry night. Tonight, leopard frogs dive into Nemo’s mud wallow, skitter across the surface and churn the depths.

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In Leipsic, making 59 bush honeysuckle hiking staffs with Boy Scouts

The Putnam County Master Gardeners were onsite┬ábefore the rains came. I was across county, talking folklore to Boy Scouts and helping them to make hiking staff of plants that shouldn’t be in Ohio. The Master Gardeners were here, tending to plants that should be, in┬átheir pollinator garden on the chimney-facing side of Red Fox Cabin. They set fencing as a deterrent┬áto wild yearlings in search of fresh greens among the yellowing grass. Bee balm, indigo, milkweeds and Joe Pye weed have grown tall enough to attract them. More importantly, they call to pollinators.

As Joe Kinsella wrote, “If you build it, they will come.” Maybe ‘build’ isn’t the correct word. But since Red Doud and Joe Hovest moved large boulders into place, Phyllis Macke ID’d plants with ingenious signs she created and everyone moved soil, mulch and a purple tricycle in place, let’s go with that. In any case, they came: swallowtail, fritillary, monarch and skipper butterflies; honey, bumble and other wild bees moved from blossom to blossom. A hummingbird moth whirred in, unfurling and curling its┬áproboscis as a nectar drinking straw. A widow skimmer dragonfly paused on the plant next door, pausing just long enough for me to click another blurry photo.

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With the scent of sun-warmed monarda in my nose, I picked a handful of mint on my way home and boiled it up with three bags of Earl Grey. The last of the chilled brew is at my elbow now. The mint is in bloom and off limits, waiting for whomever can make their way across the desert to save us all.

The gloves are off

Peter Noyes and his camera lead the way down the hill from the upland trail

The rains finally came and the trees, grasses, birds and animals with every number of feet collectively sighed with relief. Most joyously, the rains fell throughout the day of July 19 and stopped just long enough for the Allen County Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalists (OCVN) to hold a meeting at Red Fox Cabin and walk the floodplain and upland forest trails. As the group emerged from the nature preserve and reassembled on the cabin porch for cookies and lemonade, the sky opened up for another dousing. Photographer Peter M. Noyes recorded the OCVN visit. Check out his website at http://www.naturebypete.com/ for that album as well as more from his portfolio. Good stuff all around.

Today was quite literally of a different color. Many colors. A major tie-dye event produced a gallery of hats, shirts, cloths and even a few onesies that are now drying on tree branches and chairs at the neighboring Seitz farmhouse. A few hands were dyed in the process, as pictured above.

 Meanwhile back on the Quarry Farm, the shelter house is rising as a Seitz family crew is now in its third day of adding timber to the pad poured last month. Chief architect and foreman Keith Seitz designed the shelter house to blend aesthetically with the natural environment. The facility will be the site for many future gatherings, workshops and meetings, open to all by reservation appointment.