Fall 2020 Newsletter

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Summer 2020 didn’t go according to plan, but then none of this year has been business-as-usual. This very warm season was active, nonetheless, with virtual visits with the Bluffton Public Library, small group outings on the trails, and new volunteers who helped clear invasive bush honeysuckle.
August 7 was the final Facebook Live segment in the “Quarry Farm Fridays with the Bluffton Public Library”. Donkeys Buddy, Lucy and Silkie were the featured stars, although S’more the Nigerian Dwarf Goat and Chablis the Llama made cameo appearances.

The Quarry Farm is currently Putnam County’s #1 birding hotspot on eBird.org, thanks to Deb Weston and David Smith. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology created eBird in 2002 as an online database of bird observations providing scientists, researchers and amateur naturalists with real-time data about bird distribution and abundance. When Deb wasn’t logging spring and summer miles on the trails to document and photograph most of the 201 species of birds currently on our hotspot list, she was leading other avian enthusiasts here. View some of Deb’s bird photos in this newsletter and on our website. You can also join Deb for birding on the trails if you register for the “October Big Day” scheduled for October 17.

Until the latter part of the 19th century, most of Putnam County was part of the Great Black Swamp in what is now the physiographic region known as the Huron-Erie Lake Plains. But the southeast portion of the county was a slightly higher area with drier prairies as well as wetlands. This area, now called the Central Lowland, is where The Quarry Farm is located. While the 50-acres probably included upland and lowland forest, floodplain and wetland, grassland may have been here, too. For this reason, the 10-acre grassland is undergoing substantial maintenance this year, thanks to Brad Brooks. Brad began by brush-hogging the area that had been overrun by invasive grass species. He is currently clearing small trees and shrubs, leaving native oaks, sycamores and ash in certain areas to provide shade and shelter to wildlife.

The August 8 Family Day included a number of stations where groups learned about trees, insects, herbs, and the farm animal sanctuary. Rick Carles, acting president of the Blanchard River Archeology Club, was on hand outside the c.1853 Red Fox Cabin to demonstrate pioneer and Native American skills. The event attracted local media who aired and printed interviews with board members and Family Day visitors.

Although we are not able to offer hands-ons projects this year, we are able to lead small groups on hikes in the nature preserve and tours of the farm animal sanctuary. If you wish to schedule an outdoor visit onsite during Fall 2020, send an email to thequarryfarm@gmail.com with a details about your group, including number of people, ages, and possible dates and times.

Fall 2018 Newsletter

Fall 2018 Newsletter coverSchool’s back in session and we are ready for the cooler weather, especially with our annual Jam on September 8 and The Quarry Farm 5K just around the bend. Click on the cover here to read the Fall 2018 Newsletter and join us for the upcoming programs listed, including the new Give Thanks Woodland Hike, or give us a call/email to schedule an outing or program.

Winter news

2014 Winter NewslettercoverS'moreWith temperatures above 0°F and sun overhead, the visuals are breathtaking on the banks of Cranberry Run today.

Turkey track

Goat-tracked corridors criss-cross the upland sanctuary. Wild turkeys are on the move on the paths as these elusive birds forage in the floodplain and on the cover of the 2014 winter newsletter. Click of the cover to the left to read more.

Hope to see you under the stars later this month. Don’t forget to RSVP.

No Point In Mopping

Winter 2013 TQF CoverThe word of the day is WET. The Quarry Farm, indeed all of Putnam County, went from snow and blue skies to green grass, brown fields, swollen and fast-moving streams and gray skies in 48 hours.

Saturday’s 60-degree temperatures saw the flock–all ten Priscillas, Barbara, Big Girl and Karen–out of the hen-house. As I cleaned their digs, as well as the goose buildings, the girls murmured their pleasure at being out to scratch in the grass and in their tunnels under the forsythia, elderberry and tamarisk. I swear they even purred.

Buddy brayed a few times, bringing me on the run to see what concerned our good guard donkey. Twice it was to let me know that Beatrice was thinking about visiting the neighbors. The third I found out later was because a pair of bald eagles had led a Gilboa couple from the Blanchard down the Riley Creek river valley to The Quarry Farm and the banks of Cranberry Run.

October BridgeLast night’s and today’s rains have laid low the eagles as well as the hens. The geese enjoyed splashing in the puddles, but the girls preferred to scratch through the fresh straw of the hen-house. Buddy stuck his head out a couple of times, but he and the goats mostly stayed high and dry. Not so for anything in the floodplain. Compare the photo taken during the fall photo shoot and sketch walk (right) to the one taken today of the same foot bridge and you’ll see that Cranberry Run has some receding to do from the rainfall, snowmelt and torrential runoff from surrounding fields. But if you scroll back to the January 1 post you’ll see how quickly the scenery changes here.

Here’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? Check back tomorrow for the answer.

flooded bridge

No doubt we’ll have clear skies and firm ground by January 19. Click on the cover of our current newsletter (upper left) to download the complete issue. You’ll find announcements for two upcoming events including this weekend’s first Stargazing Walk. Hope to have a good gathering for this new event. Mike Erchenbrecher is a dynamic speaker and educator. He’s one of those people who can draw you into a subject with his infectious love for all things earth science. Top that off with hot chocolate and a warm campfire and you couldn’t find a better way to spend your winter Saturday evening. Owl calling and counting is optional.

Since The Quarry Farm trails aren’t open to the public without appointment, at least until the boardwalks are in and the permanent trail markers are up, we ask that you call or email ahead. Plus we need to know how many lanterns to have on hand to light the way.