Tundra Swans Pass Overhead

moon phase Week of 11/21/2010 Best days to can fruit and vegetables.

Hundreds of tiny crabapples Hundreds of tiny crabapples My walks are always the highlight of my day. I think itís because I loved being outdoors as a boy. Iíve never lost that sense of adventure every time I set off down Natureís trail. Even this time of the year, when all seems quiet and still, itís a challenge to open my senses to whatís really going on around me.

The leaves have all fallen from the High-bush cranberries and the branches have lots of berry clustersóevery bush but one. That one cranberry bush had been picked clean of every single one its red berries. It seemed rather odd so I walked over for a closer look. Fallen tree trunks pulled out of Kickapoo Fallen tree trunks pulled out of Kickapoo To my surprise, under the bush were two neat piles of orange-red berry hulls. I had to stand and think about who it was that took the time to go up and down the bush so many times to get the berries. It seemed to me that a deer mouse would like the seedy berries, but he would probably cache them somewhere. There is no bird I know of that eats this way. Now and then I discover something thatís hard to explain, but a little detective work may help solve the problem.  There are no Pine squirrels in this valley and the Gray and Fox squirrels donít seem to care much for High-bush cranberries. Iím wondering if maybe a Flying squirrel or two may have stripped the bush clean of berries and felt safer eating them on the ground near the safety of the stalks. Red-tailed Hawk keeping watch Red-tailed Hawk keeping watch Then, when I looked a little closer at the berries, I could see they werenít really berries at all but hundreds of tiny crabapples from a nearby crabapple tree. Well then, what happened to all the cranberries on the bush? It was a strange puzzle, but Flying squirrels are my best guess. In the dark of night the little nocturnal Flying squirrels carried the crab apples under the cranberry bush and ate the seeds out of themómaybe.

The Kickapoo River has been running clear and dark, winding through the valley and under the country bridges. Piles of fallen tree trunks are stacked near the road at one side of the bridge.  The logs had been washed down river during a recent flood and jammed up under the bridge. Country road crews must keep the bridges safe by removing these logjams. Itís amazing to see what the power a river can have when it floods.

Red-tailed Hawk takes flight Red-tailed Hawk takes flight Sunning himself in a tree near the river, a young Red-tailed hawk enjoys the morning. The dark chocolate breast feathers and long brown tail are his first year plumage. Looking closely, I can see his lemon-yellow eye, thanks to the camera. I have noticed a few more ďyoungĒ Red-tailed hawks this fall, having not seen hardly any the past several falls. He is looking very healthy as he flies past me on his way up the river. It looks like he has a small bulge in his crop, meaning he has caught something to eat.

Red-tailed Hawk gliding thru trees Red-tailed Hawk gliding thru trees I had only gotten a little ways from the house when a Chickadee called to me from the leafless lilac bush. He seemed to be trying to tell me something as I walked by and it dawned on me that I hadnít put out any sunflower seeds for the birds. I told him I got his message and put out some birdseed before heading out for my morning walk. After a brisk walk, I was on my way back to the house when a nice flock of Tundra swans passed above me. Their faint calls told me how they were as they flew to the West, on their way to the Pacific Coast for the winter.

Tundra Swans flying in formation Tundra Swans flying in formation I always have a little trouble adjusting as winter comes in around me. The hardest thing for me is the short daylight hours and figuring out what to do with the extended time in the dark before going to bed. Darkness comes around 4:30 p.m. in my little valley. In the summer, if you are tired at 9 p.m., itís because itís getting dark and itís not too early for bed. But in winter when itís dark at 4:30 p.m., no matter how tired I am, I know if I go to bed too early, Iíll be up at 3 a.m., and thatís way too early. The loss of an hour at night due to ďdaylight savings timeĒ is the real kicker for me. Iíve always found it much harder to adjust to an unnatural event that a natural one. Man has tried to manipulate all facets of Nature and now we live by the time that we have created. We never seem to be satisfied with the pace that Nature has set for us.

Naturally yours,


All art ©2013 Organic Valley

Post a Comment

* (not displayed)


* - required field


Naomi from from The Big Mitten on January 14, 2011 at 08:52:31 AM
Love this site! Always learn something interesting and see something beautiful on here. Today I learned that swans fly in the "V" that would have made me think they were Canadian geese. AND had to share a story prompted by your little chickadee reminding you to go get the food. A certain very large male cardinal has learned to respond to my terrible imitation of a red-bird call and knows it means food has been broadcast; 99% of the time, he shows up withing 90 seconds. Funnier though is the fact that the snowbirds also learned it and now quite often beat him to the food. When I had to stop feeding the birds, he came several times and perched on the handrail of the porch and looked in through the window! I couldn't prevent whitetail deer from gathering to feed on bird seeds and it's a huge fine if the DNR discovers you feeding deer! Because we did have a young deer around here that certainly acted as if she had chronic wasting disease, I just gave away my feeders.
rita from from milw. on November 29, 2010 at 10:11:03 AM
thank you for your xtra-ordinaire text describing your encounter w/birds, especially the red tailed hawk of which I'm a huge fan.
I'll forward to New Mexico where your story is much appreciated.cocoa
terry from from New Jersey on November 25, 2010 at 06:32:27 AM
How true.
Jim Schaeffer from from Rural Viola on November 24, 2010 at 09:42:07 PM
Thanks for your column.
Chris from from Whitefish Bay (milwaukee) WI on November 24, 2010 at 07:18:27 PM
Dan I love reading your news letters. My daughter and I walk along the Milwaukee river often. She is 13 and is learning about nature in a fairly urban setting. We are often visit the Urban ecology center near the river and near UWM. We found several crab apple trees near the center and harvested about 10 pounds and made crab apple jelly in late September. It is a lot of work but is well worth it. We also made strawberry and also raspberry jam this year. So if you have the time next year make some crab apple jelly. Have a wonderful Thansgiving I am presently making cranberry relish for tomorrow dinner and the pumkin pie!
janet from from Tallahasse florida on November 24, 2010 at 05:14:15 PM
I love your website. I can almost feel what you write. Keep up the great descriptions.
MC from from Utah on November 24, 2010 at 03:19:56 PM
What a thrill to read your weekly newsletter and see your beautiful pictures.
I agree with you, man made time is not right! Thank you for bringing us some nature wonders in our lifes, all year round.
Rx: Nature
columbine flower For kids, a dose of nature is what the doctor ordered learn more
Where to Buy Our Products
Search the Website
Animal Care
Beyond the Plate
Organic Valley on Facebook and Twitter Follow us on Twitter Friend us on Facebook
Where to Buy Our Products
Organic Valley