Sandhill Cranes and Flowers

moon phase Week of 07/19/2009 Transplant, plant flowers, plant seedbeds, plant aboveground crops

At sun-up this morning, I watched a pair of Sandhill cranes walking slowly through the grass. Sandhill Crane pair Sandhill Crane pair It was a beautiful foggy setting as it often is on a summer morning in the Kickapoo River valley. I watched as the graceful cranes stepped out into the open hay stubble. The field was just mowed, and this is a good place to look for crickets. Everything looked peaceful for them, but something was missing—they had no chicks with them, and their chicks should be 16 to 20 inches tall by now. I wondered what had happened. Did predators get their nest, and if so, who did it? Sandhill cranes are very good at defending their nests and young. I've seen one back down a stalking coyote, and another time I watched an angry pair of cranes chase a rather large raccoon away from their chicks. Black Raspberries otherwise known as Blackcaps Black Raspberries otherwise known as Blackcaps So what happened to this pair's chicks? Whatever it was, I know they are sad, but life goes on one day at a time and they deal with whatever comes.

The valley nights have been peaceful and quiet—too quiet. There's very little insect music, and almost no cricket songs. I'm sure it's just temporary and they will start singing again when the weather warms up to the mid eighties.

There's always work to do outside and that's where you'll find me 80% of the day. White Daisies White Daisies Lately I've been getting after the invasive plants that are trying to establish themselves in the garden and meadow. Pulling thistles, ragweed, Queen Anne's lace, Daisy fleabane, curly dock, poison parsnip, and burdock are just some of the plants I try to keep from going to seed.  It's hard work, but I kinda enjoy using a corn knife to knock down the stands of tall Canada goldenrod.

While working outside I find myself foraging for tidbits to eat. I may pop a small nettles leaf into my mouth to chew on, or a piece of Lambs' quarter or plantain, a dandelion leaf, or a sprig of mint. Seems I'm always chewing on something. Today while cutting Goldenrod along the edge of the woods, I stopped often for a few juicy Black-capped raspberries that were always right under my nose. White Yarrow White Yarrow What a great summer treat—one that comes for only a short time each year, so I take advantage of them while they are here. Of course, the wild birds have the same thing in mind, and have already gotten most of the ripe berries. This time of year, I'm likely to have raspberry seeds in my teeth at the end of a day.

 There haven't been many hummingbirds around here lately, and I'm at a loss to explain why. After all, so many of the garden flowers are in bloom. Brown-eye Susans Brown-eye Susans When the Bee balm started blooming this week, it was a sign the Hummingbirds will start coming in bigger numbers. I'm hoping that in the next few days they will show up and again I'll have the sound little humming wings in my ears.

 This week you get a peek at some of the lovely flowers that grace my yard and gardens. This week's new flower faces include several kinds of yellow and orange lilies, purple coneflowers, blue butterfly plant, cleomes, Red bee balm, feverfew, Queen of the Prairie, white daisies, coreopsis, white yarrow and Black-eyed Susans. I hope these pretty summer flowers brighten your day, like they have mine.

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donna from from seattle wa on July 23, 2009 at 09:37:46 AM
love to read your column. i too have noticed a shortage of hummingbirds this year. i live in a city with many tall trees and lots of birds including wild parrots. usually the hummingbirds are plentiful. this year i have seen maybe 1 or 2. hope this is not a trend,
Emily from from MI on July 22, 2009 at 09:20:39 PM
Very nice! I am a huge supporter of organic farmers, and I hope that more and more people begin to realize the importance of organic farming in relation to the environment.
Cynthia from from Vermont on July 22, 2009 at 04:27:38 PM
I have noticed we have less hummingbirds this summer too. My beebalm is in bloom now and I am seeing a few more hummingbirds but still less than normal. We have had a VERY wet, cool summer and I wonder if that has something to do with it.
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