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.

Signs

I woke up this morning with this in my head:

[In Just-]
by e.e. cummings

in Just-
spring when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles far and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it’s
spring

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far and wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and

it’s
spring
and
the

goat-footed

balloonMan whistles
far
and
wee

I have a passion for poetry and cummings is one of my favorite artists. Inevitably, this particular piece of work comes to mind at some point in March. While not the first sign of Spring, it is a significant one for me. Still, you needn’t look to the page, or even delve into the convolutions of my sleep-addled mind to find the artistry of onrushing Spring.

Fox Squirrel Geese CabinOf late I’ve seen the return of turkey vultures and red-winged blackbirds and American robins in arguing masses so large that they’ve painted an acre of the big back field nearly white with their droppings. I’ve heard the buzz of a woodcock and the whickering of its wings as it flew toward the moon to prove its worth to a potential mate. Skunks and ‘coons and squirrels quarrel and fight in the woods and Canada geese and mallard ducks, in flocks and individual pairs, holler from the quarry.

Fairy Shrimp CircleTracksIn the lowest lying areas of The Quarry Farm, back in the woods and well below the quarry itself, on the ground referred to by locals as Coburn’s Bottom, vernal pools have already formed. These temporary ponds serve as habitat for a host of ephemeral animals: fairy shrimp and salamanders and mayfly nymphs and dragonflies. Within a few months, the pools will have evaporated, but their inhabitants remain in burrows underground or as eggs, tiny packets of a potential future.

MossAnd then there’s the greening of the woods, with mosses already climbing up the trees and laying soft blankets on the ground. It’s easy to forget that this whole area was once rainforest. It’s easy to forget, that is, until you take the time to walk into an Ohio woods and take an honest look around. And if it’s not a matter of forgetting – if, in fact, you didn’t know – then the realization of where you are is an epiphany and you’ll never look at a stand of trees in Northwest Ohio in quite the same way again.

(e.e. cumming’s [in Just-] was originally published in The Dial, Volume LXVIII, Number 5: May, 1920)

A New Year’s Celebration

Lolly 3Although we didn’t celebrate a white Christmas on The Quarry Farm, when the snow finally did come, it failed to disappoint. In the last week we’ve received the better part of eight inches and it has transformed the area into a winter scene that would make even Currier & Ives jealous. For Lolly, a recent addition to the farm made possible by the good people at The Humane Society of Allen County, it was also her introduction to the wild part of The Quarry Farm.

We could try to paint a picture for you with words, talk about the stark contrast of the trees against the snow, the blue of the sky, Lolly’s exuberance as she bounded across the back field, but I’d inevitably fall short. So I’ll not even try. Instead, we’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Happy New Year, everybody.

Name that Bird

There were undoubtedly many photos taken of this morning’s glorious sunrise over Northwest Ohio. I have seen a few already. However, none can compare to the west-to-east view of the Quarry Farm above the oxbow wetland. That’s the cut-off for those of you who are old friends and frequent wild raspberry scavengers.

November 19, 2012, from a vantage point west of the sun and east of the moon

Can you guess which silhouette is not like the other? Here are a couple of close-ups to assist.

Closer and closest

When the Frost Is On the Donkey

There was a hoary frost this morning. Donkey and goats were the first to be watered and fed, mostly because Buddy’s braying echoed resoundingly across the fields to bounce off the neighboring homes and farms. Buddy must have been at his post in the southeast corner of the paddock, watching the house for signs of movement for some time since a thick layer of frost iced his back. Once the boys were satisfied with fresh hay and the roosters had their feed, I had to run for the camera.

I figured I would take another photo on my way back for more water buckets. Just one more. The sunflowers still have a few seeds to feed the birds. Almost to the front door at the top of the path that leads to the nature preserve, Gertie’s blankets hung to dry. The bright contrasts of orange, yellow and green struck against the crystal grays, blues and browns of the treeline.

Although there are few this year, the osage orange trees have dropped their fruit beside Cranberry Run. The only green otherwise are the dreadful invasive honeysuckle, but the red berries of the shrub are undeniably jewels for the returning slate-colored juncos and other snowbirds. I made it to the old stone quarry in time to capture the mist and sunrise above the wetland. Photos never do their subject true justice, but there you have it at the top of the post.

The frost layers have peeled away and are snowing to the ground. The sun is high enough that some of the frost is more like cold rain, at least under the trees. The hens have eaten their fill for now and Beatrice is on cleanup. I’m off to the road myself.

Made My Day

Even though there are over 25 species of salamanders native to Ohio, and we should be able to find them under practically every rock, rotting log and leaf pile, we frequently don’t in much of Northwest Ohio. And that’s why we’re so excited that Quarry Farm friend, volunteer and advisor Alaina Brinkman Siefker shared this photo today. She captured this little guy’s image in the Quarry Farm north floodplain, aka “Coburn’s Bottom”, this past Sunday. This animal looks to be a Jefferson or Blue-spotted salamander, or a hybridization of those two species.

Salamanders, frogs and other amphibians usually require both aquatic and terrestrial habitats. They are born in water, develop and move onto land. Talk about your primordial creature. Much of their natural habitat has been destroyed. Not just around here, but all over the world. And if that habitat hasn’t been wiped away, it has been disturbed or chemically altered. Top that off with an impaired atmosphere and you get severely declining amphibian populations.

Researchers consider amphibian populations an indicator of overall environmental health. The salamander that Alaina and her family saw this weekend tells us that we are doing something right around here. Next spring, look for announcements for the First Annual Quarry Farm Salamander Count.

For more about Ohio’s salamander populations and monitoring program, visit http://www.ohioamphibians.com/salamanders/Salamanders.html.

Long Sleeve Weather

In the upland with Tri-Moraine Audubon

The air was chill but the sun was high on Saturday, October 6 for the “Wetland Wonderland” (see WORKSHOPS AND PRESENTATIONS) Tri-Moraine Audubon Society field trip to The Quarry Farm.  The group was led by Quarry Farm Friend Dave Betts.  All the Thursday rain put water back in the oxbow, enough to yield a sampling of aquatic macroinvertebrates that included a scud. This freshwater crustacean was the first such mini-shrimp seen and held by participants. Got to love that. I did.

Want to know more about scuds? Come to the Quarry Farm in the spring, but check them out here while ice covers the vernal pools: http://www.fcps.edu/islandcreekes/ecology/scud.htm

The water continued to rise in Cranberry Run while the Tri-Moraine Audubon Society walked the trails on Saturday. But by Monday, October 8, the creek had dropped back into its banks in time for 30 Pandora Cub Scouts, accompanied by their siblings and parents, to visit for a presentation and a tour. The “show” consisted of meet-and-greets with Buddy, aquatic macroinvertebrates, a juvenile opossum, a walk to the creek, cabin, and a cider-and-cookies finish around the fire bowl. What are some of the things that we hope the Scouts learned? That fish leeches won’t drain your arm of blood, that baby dragonflies eat lots of baby mosquitos, that opossums are nature’s garbage collectors, and that Northwest Ohio sunsets are the best. What did we learn? That you can cover a lot of ground in an hour. Beautiful night.

After cider fire