A small, family farm in Wisconsin

Archive for the ‘wildlife’ Category

I Don’t Get It

It’s the State of Wisconsin and the Federal Governments that have me baffled.  Is it just me, or is the thinking really skewed?  The thing that has me scratching my head these last few days is the news that one of our Wi Senators would like to see a sandhill crane hunt here, and to that end he is circulating a bill that would require the DNR to create a sandhill hunting season.  From the Fond du Lac Reporter “State Rep. Joel Kleefisch, an Oconomowoc Republican and avid duck hunter, began circulating a bill last week that would require the DNR to create a sandhill season.”  Proponents of this bill are using farmers as their reason for wanting to kill sandhills.  They’re saying that farmers would be happy to see these beautiful birds hunted and killed because of the crop damage they cause.  Lee and I are farmers.  Yes, we’ve had some crop damage, but the treated seed helps with that.  We don’t want to see a hunting season on cranes.

The thought of going from this:

to this: really makes me sick. Click to see the pictures full size.

Sandhill cranes were once on the endangered species list, and they only raise one or two chicks per year.  I just think it’s a crazy idea.

Along the same line of thinking, Gray Wolves were also on the endangered list and were recently delisted in WI.  Now, according to some of our neighbors, gray wolves have been documented right in our neighborhood, by people using trail cams.  We have sheep and miniature horses and we sure don’t want wolves anywhere near them.  Why didn’t the government just leave it all alone.  Now they’re talking about allowing limited hunting permits to kill the wolves that do damage to livestock.  Why build them up so you can knock them down?  Crazy!

PS:  This is my 100th post on my blog!

 

Did Searching Land you Here?

I have burning questions.  I need to know how and why you’re here, reading this.  The reason I’m so curious is because WordPress gives me STATS.  STATS are apparently important.  The information they give me includes how many “hits” my blog gets daily, weekly, etc.  The stats can tell me which of the pages or posts get the most or the least hits.  My favorite stats involve the search terms.  People type their query into their favorite search engine, and sometimes they’re directed to a page on my blog.  The reason I’m writing about this now is because this morning I was reviewing my blog stats, and nearly died laughing.  Someone typed in to their search bar “furry ugly child” and they were sent to Charlie’s page on my blog.  This person was so curious about furry, ugly Charlie that he/she also clicked on the pictures of Charlie, presumably to get a better look at his furry ugliness.

Other searches that have me puzzled include “american white pelican” .  That particular post has gotten the most views on this blog.  Many, many views.  I really wonder if there is not a better source of information on the American White Pelican?  My cheese soup recipes  have been found via search engine pretty much daily since I made that post.  I had no idea how many people were craving cheese soup.

I’d really love to know why so many people are seeking information  about pelicans.  If you’re one of those folks, do leave a comment!

Whatever brought you here, thanks for coming and come on back any time.

Good Bye July…..

…..and a big hello to August, soon to arrive.

I’d like to say I hate to complain, but that would be a lie.  I love to complain.  So does Lee.  Lately we’ve been complaining about the weather, and more specifically, how the weather has impacted our lives this summer.  It’s been a crazy roller coaster ride, trying to make good crops, and trying to care for livestock.  We’ve had too much rain, too much heat, too much humidity, resulting in too much insect activity and too little time in the fields.

We’ve learned that there are numerous species of mosquitoes, and they’re all residing in the grass here.  It doesn’t matter what time of day we’re outside, there are mosquitoes biting.  The animals are suffering.  The hogs have super thick hide to protect them, and the sheep have thick wool except on their poor little faces and legs.  The horses are not so lucky and are covered with skeeters all day long.  Sprays aren’t working so I have to limit their time outside.  We have vaccinated them against West Nile virus.  Too bad there’s no vaccine for us!  The barn cats are all content to laze inside the barn 24 hours a day.

It rains and rains.  The weather man tells us this has been a record-setting summer for precipitation.  We knew that.

Farming has become more of a guessing game lately.  If Lee cuts a field of hay, will it get rained on?  Of course it will.

Is it any wonder that we look forward to a new page on the calendar?  August has to be better.  Right?

We’re highly anticipating a trip to Kentucky later in August.  We’ll be visiting family there, and we look forward to the change of scenery, the few days away from the farm, and the company of  folks we enjoy.

We’re fortunate to see an abundance of wildlife here.  We’ve been seeing deer every day, and the bucks are in velvet right now.  Recently I witnessed a turf war between 3 deer and a flock of wild turkeys.  They kept trying to chase each other away, and the deer eventually won.

Lately we’ve had Great Egrets swimming in the overflowing ditch, and they’ve been landing in a field across the road.  I got some pictures, but without a good zoom, the pictures aren’t the best.  We have a bumper crop of frogs, so I think that’s why they’re here.

Every year we have a turkey vulture family nesting in a rotten stump just on the edge of the horse pasture.  In the morning they sit in a tree or on a post and dry their wings.

The slide show is at the end of this post, and of course I had to include pictures of little Payten, who is gorgeous.  She was 4 months old on the 20th.

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American White Pelican

Isn’t it odd that these magnificent water birds are found in large numbers here in Wisconsin?  I started noticing them a few years ago, soaring above  in  loose formations, riding the thermals.  When I first saw them, I assumed they were tundra swans, another large white bird we see here.  When I was able to view them a bit closer, I realized these were not swans.  Research produced the answer.  American White Pelicans.  I’m in love with these birds. 

We live very close to the Horicon Marsh, right on the edge of the marsh.  The pelicans have been living there for the last few summers. They glide over our farm daily.  There are other places in the state that have these pelicans as summer visitors.  Lee and I were at Lake Winnebago near Oshkosh the other day, and saw hundreds of White Pelicans.

American White Pelicans are huge.  They weigh about 16 pounds, and have a wingspan of 9 feet.  I’ve learned that they don’t feed in the same way that other pelicans do.  Most pelicans dive and plunge after fish in the water.  The White Pelicans feed more like ducks.  They float in the water and bob their heads down for food.

Now I wonder where “our” pelicans winter.  I know they can be found in Texas and Mexico along with other southern locations.

Look up!

Fall Happens

crane familyA sign of impending Fall is the birds coming together in flocks, feeding and getting ready for the long flight south.  Yesterday there was a group of about 40-50 sandhill cranes in a field down the road from us.   The little family I’ve been watching all summer is still intact, 2 youngsters and their parents.  I took their picture yesterday.  Click on it to see it full size.  I’m thrilled that they managed to raise both chicks with no mishaps.  They feed every day in the hay field behind  the house and I’ve enjoyed watching the little ones grow. 

birdsonawire Most of the barn swallows have left.  There are a few stragglers still here, the ones that nested late.  Lee just had a nest full of fledgelings leave his barn.  The barn swallows gather and start perching on the wires shortly before they fly away for the winter.  My favorite barn swallow characteristic is the way the babies know to  turn around and hang their butts over the side of the nest to poop.  I’m in awe of their instincts, but  it just makes me giggle to see them do that.

flock_geeseNo entry about fall birds would be complete without a mention of the Canada Geese.  Did you notice that I wrote Canada and not Canadian?  They’re not Canadian geese, they’re Canada Geese.  I just had to get that off my chest.  Living on the edge of the Horicon Marsh  like we do, we  see the spring and fall migration of the geese first hand.  They won’t be going south for several weeks, but they’re getting together in more organized flocks and making lots of noise when they fly over us.

I could go on and on about the birds we’re privileged to see here.  Did I mention that I’m a bird watcher?   I could tell you about the American White Pelicans that fly over daily, and  the Tundra Swans we see frequently, and the Whooping Crane that lives with the Sandhills,  but I won’t 🙂

The Window on My World

June09 008Every morning I sit at my computer desk, drinking coffee and emailing my friends.  I face a large window with a view to the back of our farm.  Just a few weeks ago the view was brown.  None of the fields was planted, the trees had no leaves.  Now I’m looking at a bright green field of oats, and beyond the oats are fields that have been planted with soybeans and corn.  The corn is up and showing its rows.  I can’t see the soybean plants yet.  It’s a good feeling to have all the seeds in the ground.  Spring planting is a stressful time on the farm and we’re always glad when it’s finished, and with no drama.

That old cottonwood tree in the picture has become a part of my daily life.  It’s just always there, constantly changing.  There are two red tailed hawks that sit in that tree every day, looking over their domain and swooping down to catch rodents and small birds.  They like to perch in the dead branches.

Wild turkeys pass through daily, going from their roosts in the woods to their favorite feeding areas.  There’s a huge Tom who spreads his tail and dances whenever he sees another turkey.

The other day I saw four deer, and they were playing.  They reminded me of young horses, the way they were chasing back and forth.  It was fun to watch.

Wish I had a better camera with a good zoom so I could take pictures of the wildlife here.  Someday.

Baby Cranes

crane baby

photo credit Richard Demier

Last Wednesday I saw a sandhill crane family in the field behind my house.   There were 2 adults, and 2 chicks.  The chicks seemed bigger than they should be, and weren’t the round, fuzzy, fluff balls that I expected. They still have their yellow brown baby color and are very small.  Sandhills usually lay 2 eggs, and it seems like one of them is dispensable.  Either they lose the egg before it hatches, or they hatch both chicks, but one dies or is lost to predators.  Last year I had a similar sighting, a family with 2 chicks.  They lost one of the chicks at some point, and only raised one.  We saw the family of 3 all summer and fall, until they migrated.  I’m pretty sure the 3 cranes I saw in the early spring this year were the same family.  I hope the little family of 4 stays intact, but I know that’s a big expectation and not likely to happen.  Lee’s been planting soybeans in their favorite field, so I haven’t seen them for a couple of days.

Update on July 5:  Both baby cranes are alive and well.  They’re nearly as tall as their parents, have all of their feathers instead of fluffy down, and they look great.

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