It's hard to believe that just a couple of weeks ago, I had to start a small fire in the wood stove to take the early morning chill out of the room. The past 4 or 5 days, the temperature here in the Kickapoo Valley has hovered around 90 degrees, with enough rain to make any farmer happy. Spring's up and down trend continued today, when an afternoon rain lowered the thermometer to 62, which was a 32-degree drop in 24 hours. I can't remember the countryside looking so lush and green already at the end of May.
The hot weather caused a hatch of insects that made it seem even more like summer. I see barn swallows swoop down to catch a butterfly, Crane fly or mosquito. At dusk, the Brown bats flutter across the night sky, snapping up the new hatch of flying insects. I hear the familiar sound of June bug wings buzzing against the window screens. The season's new generation of Bumble bees are busy gathering nectar from the honeysuckle flowers and the sweet, fragrant blossoms of the Black locust trees.
The Deer ticks don't seem to be as numerous as they were, which is OK by me!
The frogs are out in the rain more; at night, the wet roads may be covered with them. Hungry animals like raccoons, opossums and skunks take advantage of the easy pickings and eat their fill of frogs. Woodchucks and squirrels find the road an easy place to find tasty insects as well. Unfortunately, many of these animals lose their lives while just trying to get a meal. I saw a beautiful male Barred owl lying limp by the edge of the highway, a Leopard frog gripped tightly in his talon. This sad sight deepens considering the hungry young owls he was hunting to feed. Some owl babies may not make it, with only one adult to feed them. So I hope drivers around here will be cautious to watch for the creatures seeking food in the roadways.
The abundance of insects is in sync with the hatching of new baby birds. Many of the wild birds are now feeding insects to their young. It's the best food nature has to offer.
This morning I watched a pair of adult Sandhill cranes standing together in a pasture. At their feet, two 10-inch tall, cinnamon-colored chicks were busy snapping up insects from the ground. There should be plenty for them to eat, which raises their chance of survival.
I planted 12 hills of Birdhouse gourds last week, and this morning the tiny plants are sprouting up through the ground. If I keep them watered, there will be lots of gourds to dry in the fall.
The flower gardens are starting to show a little more color with the opening of the bright red poppies and a 15-foot row of lovely lavender irises. The poppies don't have much of an aroma, but the Irises give off a wonderful scent that I look forward to smelling each year. The little Johnny-jump-ups can warm your heart even on a cool and rainy day.
I've been harvesting tender stalks of asparagus these past few days. The extra helping of compost I fed them early this spring is paying off.
A single hummingbird hovers over a patch of early summer phlox near the creek. The little hummers have been kind of scarce so far, but I'm hoping that as the new garden flowers start to bloom, I'll hear the sound of hummingbird wings more often.
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