A small, family farm in Wisconsin

Posts tagged ‘crane’

July 2012 Newsletter

The wheat has been harvested, and most of the straw has been baled.  The wheat yielded about 65 bu/acre.  The price is high right now, sadly due to the misfortune of farmers everywhere.  Now we’re seeing the sandhill cranes and Canada geese gleaning our wheat fields and probably finding bugs and frogs in the stubble. The next crop related job will be cutting and baling a small field of hay.  The lack of rain and high temps have burned up our pastures (and lawn) so we’ll be needing more hay than usual.  The sheep aren’t getting anything out of the pastures now, and Lee’s had to supplement them with hay.
We are still very dry.  Last night while all around us rain was falling, sometimes in gully washer proportions, we got a measly 1/10″!  It didn’t even settle the dust and only served to raise the humidity levels.  There are more chances for rain in the next few days and we’re hoping some of it will fall on our farm.
Even with the lack of rain, the roadside weeds and wildflowers are still abundant.  One of my favorites is wild chicory.  Its flowers are such a pretty shade of blue.
This summer has been hard on the farm cats.  We started this spring with 10, and we’ve lost several, either to illness or the road, or just unknown causes.  One of the kitties was dead on the road the other day and it’s the first time I’ve ever lost a cat that way and known it, in all these years.  We have more traffic on our road lately because we have new neighbors building a house and there’s lots of construction activity.  Well anyway, I think our current cat count is 5 or 6.
We’re anticipating some family visits in the next few weeks.  Collin will be home on leave soon, and Meredith and her family will be here for a few days in August.  Kay and the girls will be coming in August too.
Here’s a slideshow of photos I’ve taken in the past few days:

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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 🙂

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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