Kickapoo Floods, Again

moon phase Week of 08/22/2010 Favorable Days For Planting Root Crops, Fine For Vine Crops.

There doesnít seem to be an end to the rain, heat and humidity. An occasional hot, humid period in the summer is usually taken in stride and Iíve learned to adjust to it. The mighty Kickapoo breaches the road The mighty Kickapoo breaches the road This year though, the extended amount of moisture together with the heat hovering around 90į makes me sweat as I simply walk across the yard.

The week started with a thunderstorm that rumbled with thunder and flashed bolts of lightning from dark tumbling clouds. The three inches of rain that fell made the Kickapoo River rise up over her banks, forcing many country roads to close for two days. An even larger storm came through on Friday morning knocking down a lot of the tall sunflowers and phlox. This storm sent the holding capacity of the river way over the limit and the high water threatened to spill over into the streets of all the little river towns. Dragonfly Dragonfly The Kickapoo River is said to be the crookedest river in the world, but now there are few places where you can tell where the river is. Thankfully, the rain in the forecast for the next night never came.

More rain may mean there will be even more mosquitoes and there is more talk of how to eliminate thirty of the 56 species of mosquitoes in Wisconsin. This might be a good thing for several reasons, including some nasty diseases. I canít help but think that every time humans try to eliminate some particular species, there are repercussions from Nature. I think of the pretty dragonflies, who with their dangling legs, scoop mosquitoes out of the air and eat them on the wing. Turkey heading for cover Turkey heading for cover There are 307 species of dragonflies and 150 species of dragonflies found in North America. I wonder how fewer mosquitoes would affect the dragonflies. Strange things always seem to happen when we try to regulate Natureís balance.

The high water has forced some species to higher ground. The mother turkey and her half-grown chicks were standing at the edge of the gravel river road. As I slowly passed by, they all flew off into the woods. The wise female turkey perched near the road where she could watch the chicks and me at the same time. I was able to snap a couple of pictures of her while she struck a nervous pose.

Turkey perching Turkey perching A Great blue heron and a Snowy egret searched for food at the edge of a flooded pondóthey seemed to be okay with sharing the same hunting space. I canít help but wonder what happened to the Sandhill crane family since the high water came. Iím not really worried for their safety but it would be nice to know where they are. The young cranes are a long way from being able to fly, but their legs are long enough to help them keep up with the long strides of their parents.  Iím sure they are safe. Iíll be keeping an eye out for them.

In the barn, the Barn swallows are feeding their second batch of young. As they peek out over the edge of the mud nest, I can see their feathers are just starting to appear. They are safe where they are and donít have to worry about high water like the Cliff swallows do. Garter snake Garter snake The Cliff swallows build their mud nest along the undersides of the bridges that cross the river. The first nesting of the Cliff swallows was good and they didnít suffer many losses due to flooding. The second nesting unfortunately was still in progress when the high water washed them away Saturday.

I was happy to see the lovely Creamy gentians in full bloom in the meadow this morning. The White-tailed deer seem to think they are very tasty and usually nibble the flower heads off just before they bloom. Eastern Black swallowtail Eastern Black swallowtail   So far this year, the gentians have been overlooked by the deerómaybe Iíll get some seed to spread around.

This week has some of my favorite butterflies in the flower gardens. At the phlox were several Eastern black swallowtails and some striking Eastern yellow tiger swallowtails. They really do look like large flying flowers as they drift along on their beautiful wings.

I also have seen several small Brown snakes in the garden this week as well as three 2Ĺ-foot-long Garter snakes. Iíve always thought it was good luck to have some snakes aroundóthey are always a welcome sight.

Every night Iím serenaded with the songs of crickets. Their peaceful harmony makes me wish that summer would last all year round. When the cold wind brings the snow on the January nights, Iíll remember these warm summer nights when I fall asleep to the songs of crickets.

Naturally yours,


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Linda from from Chicago, IL on September 5, 2010 at 04:02:16 PM
Love reading your emails! We live in the heart of Chicago (about 6 blocks from Lincoln Park). We have had a great year of growing in our city garden-cucumbers, radish, tomato, chives,rhubarb,carrots,parsnip,beets and corn! Love to send you a photo ! Wierd year for bugs....hardly any including mosquitos (maybe one-two weeks).

Mary from from Arizona on August 31, 2010 at 07:22:02 PM
Hi, Dan!
Thanks for your posts.
Re: the mosquito/dragonfly connection.
When I lived in Florida in the '80's I learned that some of the efforts to reduce the mosquito population had the unintentional consequence of killing off the dragonfly population. The key problem was that the dragonfly, a natural predator of the mosquito, takes much longer to reproduce than its natural prey. Thus when the mosquito population rebounded, it did so with a vengeance. The return of the dragonfly population involved a much longer timeline.
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