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.

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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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Summer is underway, and with it comes a newsletter

2014 Summer Newsletter.indd

Hot off the printer, as well as an upload, is The Quarry Farm 2014 Summer Newsletter. Lots to talk about, like the fact that The Quarry Farm Nature Preserve & Conservation Farm is a 501(c)3 public charity, and plenty of things coming up. Click on the cover at left, open and read away.

Hope you are able to jump in on the calendar and see for yourself.

Bright Sunday for a visit

Members of the Ottawa Presbyterian Church, Ottawa, Ohio, spent a couple of their Bright Sunday (the Sunday after Easter) hours on The Quarry Farm. This was yesterday, one day before heavy rain, and the during the warmest, sunniest bit of the weekend. The cold winds settled and the sun shone upon their arrival at Red Fox Cabin.

The 25 or so adults and children were the first to join us after this long, harsh winter. They were also the first to visit after the final stretch of fence was strung, just the day before, around the farm animal sanctuary. The gates held Beatrice in, although she, Buddy, and the goats were waiting at the north gate to greet each and every outstretched hand.

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Spring 2014 newsletter

2014 Spring Newsletter-2

 

 

 

This latest issue is packed with information about wild spring babies (and what to do if you find one or more) resident news and announcements for upcoming events on The Quarry Farm Nature Preserve and Conservation Farm.

Click on the cover to the left and read for yourself. Hope to see you on the trails as we search for wildflowers, salamanders, constellations and photo opportunities.

Beatrice gets a hoof trim

There are two pot-bellied pigs that live with us here on The Quarry Farm Nature Preserve and Conservation Farm. Neither began their lives here, but this is where they will stay. Soon Beatrice and Gertie will be joined by Alphonse, Bob Barker, Grits and Greta, four pot-bellies that found themselves without a home after a cruelty and neglect seizure by a nearby humane organization.

While this video may make you laugh a little, we hope it also makes you think long and hard about the care that smart, inquisitive, stubborn and vocal pot-bellied pigs require in order to live in harmony. Indeed, keep that in mind whenever you adopt. Anything.

On the other hand, piggies are a joy when you are prepared to welcome them into your life.

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.