Not tomorrow, but today

We’ve been away for awhile–not in body so much as in mind.

For the past few days, the sky has loomed gray. While the temperatures were in the 30s (Fahrenheit), the air was heavy with wet, the kind of damp that soaks into your tissues and no amount of blankets will chase the chill away.

The cold hasn’t stopped the morass of mud all around The Quarry Farm. While quilts and jackets kept us warm, the animals burrowed under Bridenbaugh straw. A few northbound red-winged blackbirds showed up this week to promise that spring is close. Then these vernal signals went silent, too.

It was like that earlier today. Then the sun came out a few minutes ago. And happily, so did everyone else.

Winter 2016 newsletter

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Prepping the back field for the Bee Buffer Project is one of the items in the latest issue of The Quarry Farm Newsletter. Click here to read all about it and what’s happening here as the snow flies and the seeds sleep.

The rain rain rain falls down down down

Today is rainy, cold and a hot cuppa sits in front of me. The floor has been mopped and mopped and mopped again to keep the muddy footprints at bay. Steven just suggested that we build a raised walkway so travelers can leap from stone to stone to make their way to the house in the event of such soup as surrounds us now.

I toyed with the idea of taking a photo of the preserve tree line, but the light is so dim that I’ll just tell you the trees are quiet and dripping grays and browns. The donkeys and goats are hunkered down in the paddock building in nests of straw, while the chickens do the same in their coop. The geese, however, are bubbling happy murmurs in the puddles that are fast joining into one big sea of waterlogged mud and winter grass.702974_10208387964407583_1535727157_n

Potbellies Carlton and Beatrice are trying very hard to be small, their legs crossed just in case the humans might get it in their heads that the pigs probably need to go outside to relieve themselves. Nemo was in her crate for a stretch, having thrown a large piglet tantrum because we couldn’t stop the downpour during her favorite hour of rooting. Now she is out and sprawled across her increasingly small dog bed.

David Seitz has worked steadily in the last month to ready the back grassland for wildflower seeds. The seeds were supplied by the Pollinator Partnership, as part of its U.S. Bee Buffer Project. The nature preserve was selected as a bee buffer research site as it borders neighboring farm fields at the south east corner. David and his daughter Ily spent much of Christmas Eve here working on the three acres that will be devoted to the effort. I hoped to take photos of the spot today.

Instead, I’ll keep my feet warm under a pink pig and plan on another walk on a dry day–maybe New Year’s Day–at least until it’s time to tuck the birds in for the night.

 

 

Flowing back in time through two townships

Quarry and CreekThere’s a lot of history in and around The Quarry Farm, not to mention up the road.

On the opposite side of the block stands a log home constructed by Tom McCullough. Like our Red Fox Cabin, McCullough’s place isn’t a Putnam County native, but did stand in the United States during the country’s first 100 years. The 2.5-story building started out in Reading, Pennsylvania, was relocated here in 2008 and reconstructed by a professional antique cabin firm and kitted out with local 19th century furniture.

Bridenbaugh OrganistNorth on the same road and across Riley Creek is Bridenbaugh Schoolhouse. Imagine a one-room schoolhouse on every country mile and you will picture the education system as it once was in rural Ohio. In 1997, Dale Bridenbaugh restored the schoolhouse on his farm to what could have been its original 1889 glory.Peggy Bridenbaugh

RC with signCross the Riley on the c. 1876 M-6 bridge, itself listed in the Historic American Engineer Record as an example of “Morrison’s Patent Wrought Iron Arch Truss Bridge,” travel about a mile and a half north on 7L and sit in the stillness and peace of Riley Creek United Methodist Church. The church was founded in 1850 and is still active in one large, lofted room. Sun and moonlight filter through etched and stain-glass windows to pool on handmade wooden pews. The long upright-backed benches glow with the hand polish and years of congregational sitting, but the names of former youth break the smooth surfaces here and there.

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Cabin MomSaturday broke records for December warmth and, although we could use some rain or snow to soften the dry bed of the quarry, the weather was perfect for the first Old Time Riley Creek Christmas Tour. All of the above were stops on the route. All were decorated for the holidays, most as they may have been long ago. Riley and Pleasant Township saw plenty of driving tourists as a result. One of the visitors was Pandora’s Dr. Darrell Garmon. He walked up the path through the Red Fox Cabin gardens and introduced himself as Dr. Garmon and as the person who poses as Sea Captain James Riley.

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Fox StatueNext door, Carlton, Beatrice and the other potbellies, a speckling of chickens and Johnny Goose gathered at the farm animal sanctuary fence corner closest to the hubbub. Lucy’s foghorn bray paused more than one conversation. Two tourists left the cabin and stopped at the gate where the turkeys were on full display. Buddy took issue with the attention the boys were getting, so he grabbed a mouthful of tail feathers, spit them out and smiled. True story – the couple took a photo and promised to share it with us.

For now, the images above will do.

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.

almost autumn

almost autumn and the sky squeezes blue
through the eye, guilt
from a moment of weeks; two days,
one leaf between a bible

of pages

black and white and velvet brown feet pad
through fallen leaves.
and still another falls to join them
and another still
and another still

Just a week, now, until fall; seven days and yesterday felt every bit the season. We ferried Captain John, the opossum, and Carlton, the potbelly, to Lima for an evening program in the amphitheater at Johnny Appleseed’s Ottawa Metropark. It was cold in the bottomland where the structure sits, the wind constant and insinuating.

But this is less about that than it is about earlier in the day. For the first time in weeks, in months, yesterday afternoon we worked our way to the back field. Certainly because we missed the woods and the field, the stream where it runs past the quarry and the quarry itself, but also as an introduction. And in keeping with this Merlin of a post, where time first marched backward from evening to afternoon, now there’s cause to relate a time two weeks back…two weeks and two days, not to put too fine a point on it.

This is Cady.

Cady

Anne named her for Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who, among other things, was an American suffragist. Cady came to us through the Putnam County Dog Shelter. She was abandoned in a Columbus Grove apartment not too very long after she’d birthed pups and almost certainly not for the first time, the birthing or the abandonment. The county’s dog warden, Mike Schroth, let us know about her situation, granted us the opportunity to invite her into our family. So, 72 hours after the county assumed responsibility for her welfare and 48 hours after we introduced her to Mister Bill (who gave her a sniff and then turned his back) and to the chickens (who paid her no heed at all) and to the turkeys (who took an immediate dislike to her and now pester her wherever she goes within the fenced-in area that is the animal sanctuary, unrelentingly reminding me of that Sandra Boynton cartoon), Cady relinquished her given name, Baby, and came to The Quarry Farm, new baptized.

Cady and LollySo, yesterday, 12 days after Baby became Cady, we introduced her to the wilder part of The Quarry Farm, the woods and fields beyond the fence. And again today, yesterday having proven a bounding success. With Lolly, Cady peered into Cranberry Run, braved the bridge, skirted the quarry, tore through the leaves on the main path to the back field, grazed her way across the field, padded along the ridge above Coburn’s Bottom and then back and back and back and back.

On the way, she passed, unremarked, goldenrod goldenrodironweedand ironweed

and a catalpa, alone, in the midst of the goldenrod,

catalpa in back 40

a viceroy

monarch

and a dragon.

saddlebag

Who knows what she’ll see next time, Cady, in the fields and along the stream? Or the time after that, for she’s not going anywhere, our Cady.

cady by deadfall_edited-1

Welcome home.

Creativity in the garden

The Seitz Family Pavilion resembled a construction site this morning as bags of concrete, vermiculite, and vinyl patch were piled under its roof in preparation for a make-it-take-it workshop at The Quarry Farm.

Under the tutelage of Board President Laura, the Gardening Basket Herb Society, with members from Putnam, Hancock, and Hardin counties, made a variety of containers and stepping stones for use in their gardens.

IMG_4989There were the makings for hypertufa pots, that mysterious stuff that resembles wet kitty litter when mixed but dries with a unique surface that, to me, makes a plant look as though it is thriving in an earthen sculpture.

IMG_4992Plastic buckets and pails of concrete were stirred with great big spoons and paddles to make steppers and then decorated with everything from glass beads to shells and aquarium stone. More concrete was pressed over leaves arranged on sand mounds to create leaf bowls.

Slurries —concrete ‘gravy’ — were dabbed and poured over draped towels and other cloths to make fabric pots.

IMG_4985There were also marbles, glass pebbles, press letters and crockery bits with which to ornament the finished containers, if the students so chose. Unbeknownst to the group, these sparklies had been perused on Wednesday night by a couple of juvenile raccoons. I heard them chattering from next door as I was putting the chickens to bed.

I think the masked marauders were unimpressed. Although one bag of marbles was on the grass off the concrete pad, all the shiny bits were contained.

Butterflies beyond the heat islands

20150806_181856-120150805_151615-1There is no better cure for a bad case of the Mondays than a brisk walk in the open air. If your feet take you beyond the water cooler and out of doors to a concrete sidewalk, perhaps this virtual walk in The Quarry Farm butterfly gardens will transport you beyond your August Ohio heat island.

Late summer in Northwest Ohio means sweat that never dries, elephant-eye-high corn, even this year after months of heavy June and July rain, and the golden greens of mature plant leaves, the rich amethysts of ironweed and Joe Pye and the hot reds, oranges and burgundies of lilies, cosmos, Susans, zinnia and echinacea. The Gardener would likely list many more flora, but since she’s otherwise occupied in the gardens themselves, you are stuck with those plants that I can identify around the Seitz Family Pavilion.

Skipper

Silver-spotted skipper butterfly

Monarch under cover

Monarch under cover

Lucky for all of us, she always carries her phone. And because she does, she took photographs of the better-late-than-never butterflies that are moving from flower to flower.

Better still, she took video. So, find a park bench or an open window and take a virtual butterfly walk in the warm August sunshine. There is breeze today to keep the virtual mosquitoes at bay.

 

Our first number is, “The Dance of the Tiger Swallowtails.”

 

 

 

 

 

Tiger swalltowtail

Tiger swalltowtail

And what better image to leave you with, for today, than a giant swallowtail doing its level Lepidopteran best to pollinate every plant in the north bed?

Now go back to work, full in the knowledge that there are still butterflies in the world.

Carlton goes to college and other colorful stories

P1080221 We’re six days and counting with no rain. The morass is drying and the butterflies and other pollinators have landed, flitted, and flown in greater numbers than we have seen in these parts yet this year. Before summer’s end, I may need all 10 fingers to count monarch butterflies. The milkweed keeps sending out its rich fragrance. We can hope.

In between butterfly counts, we loaded a crated Carlton into the car and took him down to the Veterinary Medical Center at Ohio State University. What started out as a solid mass that wrapped under his right foreleg had settled into three abscesses. Fearing a pernicious parasite, we made the trip that IMG_4674we’ve made twice now with Marsh the Nigerian dwarf goat.

I love that place — if not the reason for going, but for the experience. The veterinary students and faculty and are curious, kind and thorough. On Thursday, with a dozen or so students gathered around, Erin “won” the opportunity to lance the most problematic abscess. It was truly spectacular, so productive as to elicit a burst of, “Ah-ohhhhs!” and applause. Dr. MacKay announced, “I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t appreciate a good abscess.” That right there is a bumper sticker in the making.

Continental 3On Friday, more color, of a very different kind, arrived here on The Quarry Farm. The Continental Junior Gardeners visited for the fourth year. There were many new faces this year, although some came into focus as we realized they were the siblings of children who visited in the past. They gathered leaves and arranged them on white t-shirts, then sprayed diluted acrylic paints on the shirts to create one-of-a-kind designs. Leader Charlene Finch said they will wear them in the Continental Fall Festival parade in September. Continental 2

After lemonade and cookies, they walked through the butterfly gardens and visited the farm animal sanctuary. The turkeys claimed the group as their own and gentle giant goat Mr. Bill smiled for several cameras. Before they left us for another year, all but one camera-shy dad posed on the red Fox Cabin front porch for their annual portrait.

ContinentalThe sun continues to shine today. Damselflies and dragonflies are on the move, lessening the hum of mosquitoes bred in the recent floods. With paint left in the spray bottles, I think a few more t-shirts will be made this afternoon. Pick up a t-shirt of your own and come on by around 3 p.m.

Can’t promise there will be any cookies left, but there are butterflies and a much happier pig next door.