County fair rabbit quartets are not always male

For going on two years, Waldo has kept us guessing.

In 2014, the fourth in a 4-H market rabbit project was delivered to the sanctuary. An attempt to contain the white rabbit, a Californian with a smudge of soot framing its ears and one rosy eye, resulted in a wilting creature. So we turned it out on the eight fenced acres for the day. The day became night into morning, then days as the rabbit did not want to be caught.

Live trapping efforts captured a raccoon and Snoopy the fox terrier (on separate occasions). We decided that the rabbit was on its own.

Rabbit sightings became a game. We named him Waldo, as in “Where’s…” When horrid cold arrived on Oct. 31, 2014 and settled in to stay, we put out food. This was eaten by the goats. Sure that Waldo was no more, it was a bright surprise when, on the first clear warming day, we saw Waldo nibbling on sprouts under the cedars. Waldo became a symbol of hope, for spring as well as the strength of the indomitable spirit. We found bolt holes carved in the hillside, at the bases of several trees, and under every outbuilding, including the port-a-let near Red Fox Cabin.

All fears that Waldo would crossbreed with wild rabbits evaporated as we observed the white rabbit chase Eastern cottontails from the sanctuary and beyond its borders.

A couple of months ago a neighbor asked if we would take in two more Californians. We separated the male from the female and have just found a home for her. Waldo seemed to disregard the male completely until it disappeared one night. Waldo remained king.

WAS king, until Waldo was queen.

bunniesYesterday morning I turned around from filling the water buckets and tubs and saw a white ball of fur bounce from below the south deck. Three more followed.

Apparently, that male rabbit didn’t disappear fast enough.

It’s now Sunday evening. Steve caught up three and they are in the hutch. The fourth has his or her (we will never assume one or the other again) mother’s smarts and is eluding capture. But we’ll (Steve) keep trying. They are free to a good home, preferably one apiece in four good homes. Our purpose does not include allowing the animals who come here to procreate, and we don’t encourage it elsewhere. That’s how so many of them become homeless in the first place.

Waldeen/Waldette will have a little operation of her own before the snow thaws with spring. She will, just as soon as we can catch her.

Fall 2015 newsletter

Fall 2015 TQF Newsletter-1The Fall 2015 newsletter of The Quarry Farm Nature Preserve and Conservation Farm is here, “hot off the press.” Have a click and read all about it. You may see yourself or someone you know in the pages.

So much has happened in the past three months, especially in September. Despite the cooling temperatures, we have plans for more this winter. Stay tuned to our website and Facebook for Star Walks and programs.

See you on the trails, with boots on.

So like ours

I had another post in mind today; two, actually. Today had other plans.

With the press bill planted on my head, I followed the scanner to a semi overturn on Ohio State Route 12. The word was one slight injury, no heavy rescue required.

This was the scene on approach from the west.

 

Truck

 

The driver seated in the ambulance to the left was shaken, with a bloodied forearm, but his fingers were mobile. His boss in Defiance was on speed dial. Pig truck

This was the view from the east, but the screaming gave them away before I rounded the corner.Pigs 7

 

 

 

 

There were 179 gilts (a female who hasn’t born a litter) on the truck. They were less than five months old.

Pigs 4While I don’t have an exact count, I believe that there were fewer than 15 killed outright (I saw seven outside the trailer and know that there were more in the nose that had yet to be removed). Four severely injured animals were dragged from the truck with chains and a fifth, with a dangling right front hoof, was goaded and prodded and slapped out and into a waiting trailer before instructions were given to cease that kind of activity. The two remaining “downed” pigs were left in the shade of the truck and kept cool Pigs 8with water before they were euthanized on the scene. Respondents from the Columbus Grove Volunteer Fire Department climbed on top of the truck and helped to keep them all cool by spraying them with water. This same horror happened earlier this week in Xenia.

I don’t have to explain the pink-paint markings, really.

Pigs 10In fact, I’ll not say anything more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Superheroes swoop in on Saturday (no capes!)

GardenEveryone has stuff to do. Some of us are list makers, like Quarry Farm Board President Laura. Others have swirls of snippets of chatter spinning through their brain, like yours truly. Or little notes jotted on the backs of envelopes stuffed in the glove compartment, drawers and/or stacked on the kitchen table (again, fingers pointing right back.) Betty and BuddyHere on The Quarry Farm, there is always so much to do. Water tubs and buckets to clean and refill, food to prep and food bowls to juggle, hungry potbellies to restrain, hinnying donkeys to brush, and buildings to clean, rinse and repeat. This year, we have buildings to paint. And that’s just in the farm animal sanctuary. In the gardens of Red Fox Cabin, the long wait for nature to prevail over invasives is one which has yet to be won. But Nature is making headway, with a little help from her friends. After years of solarizing beds and hand-picking beetles rather than spraying and dusting, has allowed natural insect predators to get a foothold. The gigantic rainbarrel that collects droplets from the roof of Red Fox Cabin is almost always full for the watering. BillBut those of us who currently ‘mind the store’ rarely have the opportunity to check everything off our wish list. Last Saturday — that golden day — we got to pen a whole host of checkmarks. About a month ago, I received an email from William Schumacher. I first met Bill when an Ohio Department of Natural Resources co-worker suggested that the man, an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency employee, might be willing to lend his expertise as a soil science presenter at a teacher workshop I was planning. It turns out that actually wasn’t the first time that I met Bill. He and his brothers Joe and Dan grew up along the opposite bank of Riley Creek. We rode the same school bus and developed the same love for nature while walking the creeks, pastures and woods. CarolGetting back to that email. Although Bill and his brothers no longer live nearby, they remember. They remember the fish that swam in Riley Creek and the pasture that their dad tended for years. And they’ve seen what happened to the creek when that floodplain pasture was plowed and subsequently eroded. They like the clear waters of Cranberry Run that flow through The Quarry Farm on their way to the Riley, so much so that Bill offered up his helping hand as well of those his wife Carol and their teenaged daughters and sons. Since his brother Joe was flying in from South Dakota and his brother Dan would also be up from the Dayton area, why, they could bring up their tools and pitch in to help us out, too. GardenBoy, did they ever. When Sophie the potbelly pig arrived here last month, she was so overweight that she couldn’t walk, much less be spayed. In less than eight hours, we had a new wooden fence in the quarantine area where Sophie is now dieting. DanThe butterfly gardens were weeded of quack grass, with straw down between the rows. Bill had dug and walled a kidney-shaped raingarden off the north gable of the cabin. Dan had led a crew along the south end of the Cranberry, clearing windfall from the path and cutting a big dent in bush honeysuckle along the way. Yatchi and HWords cannot sufficiently express our gratitude to the Schumachers. Instead, I’ll let the impressions of some of our youngest visitors say it for me. These drawings just arrived in the mail, sent to us by the third grade class from Pandora-Gilboa Elementary School following a day spent here on May 8. Those kids are one of the greatest reasons why we do what we do, so that these creeks, pastures and woods, as well as the nonhumans that share it, will mean as much to them as they did to much younger Bill, Joe, Dan and me. Still do.

A New Year’s Day walk below the wind

IMG_2737This new year looks bleak, with harsh, cold wind and an absence of snow. Thursday afternoon, I walked down the lane and had to fight to open the gate against bluster, feeling the cold bite of the latch’s surface through my work gloves. No one followed me to the gate in hopes of treats. I’m sure no apple slices could beat shelter on the sunny side of any outbuilding.

I made it just about 50 yards down the road before ducking down into the lowland along Cranberry Run, where the drop behind Red Fox Cabin blocked the wind. So cold were the trees that they hummed, except for Osage orange trees. These woven, thorny trees make sort of a whirring whine in frigid wind chill (truly exhilarating when one is walking on the trail at night…alone.)

IMG_2736Winter came on so suddenly that many of the Osage fruits are green and whole, their sticky white latex ooze flash-frozen to the ground. The fruit is not poisonous to us mammals, but I hear it’s not much to taste. Further on down the creek, on the east side of the footbridge, I saw something, maybe a fox squirrel, made use of an orange as a food source.

The sun is cold and farther away at the start of the year, a white sun in gray blue sky. Even the bane of the understory, bush honeysuckle, is leafless this year without a snow blanket. No green, other than the Osage fruits, was visible on Jan. 1, 2015. This is a good thing, I know; maybe this will give the maples and oak seedlings a chance to fill in the spaces left where the 2012 derecho took out so many mature trees.

IMG_2739IMG_2734The wind was so high and wild above the creek valley that I saw few birds, not even on the old stone quarry. This winter it is full of water, frozen with reflections of rich, ruddy browns, gold, and sky. There are no breaks in the still quarry’s surface, but Cranberry Run’s riffles keep a brisk pace, leaving open holes here and there, especially below the high blue clay banks at the northwest point of the nature preserve. Two birds, so in shadow that I couldn’t identify the species more than to say they are large songbirds, dipped in the water below a bare root hackberry that has held the top of the bank for as long as I can remember.

IMG_2741The camera, a treasured Rebel of my dad’s, said ‘no more’ to the cold, so I tucked it inside my blanket coat and headed back the way I came. At the top of the hill near The Quarry Farm entrance sign, I tucked my chin closer to the camera, wrapped my scarf around my head and ran for the gate.

With my eyes so adjusted to discerning the different hues of browns, the greeting party under the apple tree was a shock to the senses. Wrapped in new thermal coats, Buddy and the boys were like presents under the tree.

What a happy sight to begin a new year. Rain is promised for Saturday. Luckily, these coats of many colors are waterproof. I think I’ll stay inside and watch.

IMG_2730

New winter comes

Two hours and 20 minutes of 2014 remain to us in Northwest Ohio. If the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has their way with us, we will feel the cold dry air become even more so as three more degrees slip away to 16 degrees F by the time the ball drops.
In the still cold outside, the Christmas solar bulbs hang in a sugar maple. A clear sky of stars and half moon will keep them glowing for a few minutes longer than in the past week of rain. We humans are snug inside, our toes snug in slippers and the rest of our persons wrapped in afghans and quilts, the extended version of “The Two Towers” onscreen to lead us up to the new year.
Outside in the farm animal sanctuary, under that sugar maple, donkey and goats are wrapped in the thermal coats that arrived this fall, winter wear purchased through the donations received throughout 2014. Oh, yes, there will be photos.
Buddy Vincent

Buddy visits a Seiler grandchild

Although 16 degrees F is a heatwave compared to the bone-deep bite felt this time last year, it warms the soul to see the little herd walk the moonlit paths from building to building, warm in their shiny new gear. Thanks to Ellen Seiler and her family, who visited on Sunday, there are apples out there, too. Nothing like a very cold, crisp apple to toast 2015. There are enough to share with the red fox pair that bark in the lowland.

Thank you to everyone who helped make 2014 a banner year on The Quarry Farm. Here’s to another year of star walks, art workshops, acoustic music, nature days and whatever else comes our way. We can share one major 2015 project heads up  with you: A whole lot of bush honeysuckle is going by the wayside, if your game for a pullin’.

Christmas readings with Captain John

One animal stayed outside in the winter snow to clean up after everyone else who snuggled inside the mitten. That’s what third grade students in Mrs. Arthur’s class at Pandora-Gilboa Elementary School found out this week when one class member invited Steve to read a story to his class.

PG visit3As a holiday treat, with language arts side effects, students were allowed to bring sleeping bags and pillows to class. They read favorite books in comfort and listened to visiting friends and family read out loud.

Quarry Farm friend Jaren asked Steve to be his reading guest. Steve chose to read Jan Brett’s The Mitten, a tale of woodland inhabitants who all find cold-weather shelter inside a mitten that was left alongside a trail.

If you’ve ever read The Mitten, you’ll know that quite a few animals, big and small, fit inside. But the Virginia opossum didn’t make the cut. We figure it’s because Nature’s garbage collector wandered on, cleaning up everything else that the bipedal trail walkers left behind.

PG visit2This being said, Captain John Smith*, The Quarry Farm educationalPG visit animal ambassador for Virginia opossums everywhere, accompanied Steve on the classroom visit. The Captain’s beautiful self was a hit, so much so that he was invited to visit Mrs. Henry’s class across the hall. But, since Captain John hadn’t had his breakfast yet, nor had he used the loo, Steve thought it best that the two of them return home.

There will be other visits. Like his namesake, Captain John Smith is up for the adventure. As he is nonreleasable due to his lack of fear, especially when it comes to humans like those that dropped that mitten, he benefits from the outing and is a wonderful guest.

* The opossum received its name in the early 1600s from Captain John Smith of the Jamestown colony in Virginia. Smith was trying to pronounce, for his mates across the pond, the word aposoum, a Virginia Algonquian word meaning “white beast.”

Thank you for the BIG check

quarry farms - laura coburn

We want all of The Quarry Farm friends, family and neighbors, near and far, to know that we received grant funding from the Operation Round Up program as part of the Paulding Putnam Electric Co-op Trust.

Here’s how it happened: Anyone who is a PPE member rounds up their bill to the nearest dollar amount and the funds are pooled. Periodically, organizations are able to apply for community programming. We did, and our educational programming was elected to benefit from the program.

Yesterday, Board President Laura drove over to Paulding to receive the grant check (actual check much smaller than indicated here) so that we could provide more outreach during this year. By the way, take a look at those presentations and workshops that we do offer and give us a call or send us an email at thequarryfarm@gmail.com.

What and impact that just a few cents each month can make on a community.

Third time’s a charm

IMG_0826The Junior Gardeners of Continental were one of the first groups to visit The Quarry Farm after we officially opened to the public three years ago. I distinctly remember the initial telephone conversation with organizer Charlene. She had picked up our newsletter and wanted to bring her charges out for a program. She didn’t sound too sure about the whole idea, but her group arrived and we had a fantastic time. Guess they did, too, because they spent two hours with us on Saturday, this time searching for butterfly host and nectar plants on a scavenger hunt.

IMG_1107Beatrice met up again with her good friend Brandon, the first person she would approach of her own accord after her arrival in 2012 as a very young pot-bellied piglet. Although Brandon had some slick new wheels this year and Beatrice was sleepy in the July humidity, she knew him well. So did Buddy.008

Megan Ramey, Program and Partnerships Manager for the Girl Scouts of Western Ohio, arrived just before the Junior Gardeners to talk with us about the possibility of scouts earning various badges here. Thanks to the joyous enthusiasm of Charlene and her crew, a star of a Virginia opossum and Laura’s coffee and sugar cookie bars, we’re in.

Here’s to more face time with the kids from Continental. Special thanks to Junior Gardener Jazlyn Bishop for sharing your photos and video with us. Keep them coming.

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