This morning’s “Quarry Farm Fridays with the Bluffton Public Library” was a brunch party of English walnuts for S’more the Nigerian Dwarf Goat and his friends in the farm animal sanctuary. Cheers to all who joined us on Facebook Live at 10 a.m.
Much as I tried, I couldn’t leave this photo to its own devices. Buddy was indeed yawning, not braying the classic “hee haw.” Donkeys don’t, at least the two here, don’t. They “hee-hee-hee” and “ho-o-o-o-nk” and blow raspberries, but declare nothing for Buck and Roy to play along with.
Sunday morning, as I filled the water pans, Buddy followed me to make sure no carrots lurked in my pockets. I saw his lower lip begin to tremble and readied the camera just in case a toothy grin was on its way..
That is all.
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.
This is the week when, beyond the preserve perimeter and the latch of the gate, the yellow buses begin to roll with the new school year. In the heavy, humid morning air — doesn’t seem to matter if the temperature is high or low — there are 1/2 mile shouts of “Bus!” from siblings who are already out the front door to another sibling who is in the throes of mid-adolescent groom.
This week isn’t just an adjustment for school-age children and their families, or drivers who must adjust their drive to work because of reactivated bus traffic. The grasses and lone trees at roads side rustles this time of year with ground birds, pre-teen fox kits, raccoon, shrews, voles and heat-seeking butterflies who, up to Sunday night, had to contend with one schedule of human activity and now must adjust to another noise and traffic level as they ready for colder weather or a move to warmer climate.
What I’m trying to say is, it’s back-to-school for all creatures great and small.
In the cool of the morning, all are active, seeking warm pools of breaking sun in the lee of open doors and east faces. Pears and volunteer apples glow amongst leaves made more green by contrast with the blue a.m. sky.
Inside the fence and tree line, new rooster Antonio and established cock-of-the-walk Freckles seem to have established a hierarchy, at least as far as the flock is concerned, although, based on past experience, they will always try to outcrow each other.
No one messes with the will of Bob, except for one white rabbit.
As the late summer days heat, the chickens bury themselves in dust bowls or sprawl on the decks with the goats. All the goats, that is except for Mister Bill, who digs deeper and deeper pits in the driveway gravel to escape the heat/cold/rain/wind/gnats, or just because.
Luckily, there’s field stone to fill and an active stone quarry two miles north, and pleasant company to make the effort all the more worthwhile.
Please, as you yield for the school bus, have a care for the the roadside as well.
There are three events scheduled for the next three months here on The Quarry Farm, two of which will motivate the creative side of your brain. The third will help get your sillies out while you help us clear an invasive plant to make way for native wildflowers, tree, and grasses
Click on the cover to the left for the full newsletter. And stay tuned to this site as well as “The Quarry Farm” on Facebook for more summer happenings. If the weather permits, there may be a star walk on the calendar.
Not one of the historic automobiles that were part of the 2015 National 1 & 2 Cylinder Millstream Road Oilers tour came off assembly after 1913, we were told. The 28 horseless carriages and their drivers stopped first at Diane Myers’ Black Swamp Raptor Rehab Center several miles east of here before making their way west to see Red Fox Cabin, the butterfly gardens and the residents of the farm animal sanctuary on their way to Kalida.
Because they came from the north instead of south, the drivers had to loop through the neighboring Walker family’s driveway. It was a surprise photo op for the neighbors and for us.
Because the summer is upon us, hot and heavy, Carlton and Beatrice gave a brief ‘hello’ before wagging into the undergrowth for wild raspberries and shade. But Lucy was the gracious hostess for the morning.
Because high winds aren’t due for another few hours, a zebra swallowtail, a red-spotted purple, a red admiral butterfly, two saddlebag dragonflies and a flock of pondhawks flitted and zipped through the gardens.
Before we continue along the trail in a search of wildflowers and wild mushrooms, let’s take a moment to highlight a Friday adventure that we shared with the third grade class from Pandora-Gilboa Elementary School.
Although the school is just around a few corners from The Quarry Farm, this is the first time a class has been able to pay us visit in a while. This morning, the sun rose in a clear blue sky, the tortuous winds that we’ve had of late held their breath for the most part, and 41 students descending the bus steps to join us for the morning.
At three different stations, these curious kids learned about herbs alongside the butterfly garden, beneficial insects that spend much of their life in and along Cranberry Run and Riley Creek, and met some of the animals of the sanctuary.
At Station 1, Laura talked about past and present uses for herbs, and the pollinators that live amongst them in the Red Fox Cabin gardens. The students chose snipped samples of their favorites from a selection of culinary and/or fragrant herbs, zip-lock bagged the cuttings and labeled the bags for the journey home.
Steve brought on the dragonfly nymphs, or at least a bucket of them, at Station 2. He talked about the life cycles and habits of these predators, as well as others like damselflies and water scorpions. He pulled the old arm-covered-with-leeches trick, asking, “How long will it be before these leeches suck all the blood from my arm?” The answer? Never. The leeches he displayed were fish leeches.
Bronze turkeys Humperdink, Inigo, and Miracle Max were the greeting party at Station 3, the farm animal sanctuary. Johnny the Canada goose joined in, too. Most of the residents were lying low — in outbuildings and under trees — due to warm, sweaty temperatures, but Buddy the donkey came out. Potbelly Carlton and Lucy the donkey made their large group debut as well. Carlton rolled over for a belly scratch and Lucy leaned in for ear whispers.
Captain John Smith the Virginia opossum was the special guest “speaker” during the lunch hour. Half of the class met the Captain at Christmas time during a classroom reading of Jan Brett’s The Mitten. We thought it only fair he should meet the whole class on his own turf.
Here are a few more images from the day. Thank you to Nikki Beckman for sharing photos, Jessica Arthur and Jill Henry for sharing your class time, and top Paulding Putnam Electric Cooperative and First National Bank of Pandora for supporting this educational program. If anymore photos arrive in the email box, we’ll add them to the show.