Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Swallowtail Caterpillars

Our fennel went nuts last year and ended up dropping seeds all over our herb spiral. I cleaned out the spiral this spring as I was putting in new plants, but even with a few trips back through, we've had dozens of little fennel plants all over the place. Thankfully, I'm not that vicious of a weeder, because all of these plants have attracted the notice of swallowtail butterfly caterpillars! We counted 4 big fat 'pillars this evening. Pretty fun since the kids just attended a library presentation about bugs. It was especially nice to see them since at the moment our yard feels like anything but a nature preserve. The flooding that has closed I-94 in Wisconsin is bad enough that we were looking at weeks of closure, so they are building a crossover to get 2 lanes of cross-directional traffic across the "good" bridge. All that is happening directly across from our bedroom window. So the kids have had fun with the construction site right in our backyard, but we got this nice reminder of what progress we've made in building up backyard habitat in the midst of a new subdivision. We're looking forward to watching them develop into beautiful butterflies. Bird turns 5 tomorrow: Happy Birthday, Bird!

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Watery Glimpse of the Future?

Some of my dear readers have been wondering how we're doing here in Wisconsin with all of the flooding. Before I begin, let me say that we are fine. We are 1000 times luckier than the majority of people in our area. Our basement is dry, we can not complain. We have had some major damage to our seed crops and lettuce, and our vegetables that survived are overgrown with weeds in fields so soggy we can't possibly step foot in them without damaging the plants. So. We've done what we could. We did two huge lettuce harvests before hail took the remainder that we couldn't get out in time. The refrigerator was overflowing with lettuce. Think I'm exaggerating? That's where you'd be wrong. I have photographic evidence! So that and a car with a few hail dings is really all we can claim as inconvenience. That--and being relatively stranded. We live very near the Rock River. Most of you know we live right up against I-94. Half of it has been closed because of flooding on the Rock. We basically can't get West with any rhyme or reason. We can't get South either without going way east first. We can go North, but not far, and not to any practical purpose. We can easily go East, we just can't get back. The first picture up above shows the Rock River 3 days before we got the last set of really big storms--3 nights before we spent most of the night in our basement listening to tornado sirens go off. We've seen the Rock flood it's banks a bit at this farm before--the normal path is a few yards to the right of the line of trees on the right of the picture. It's crept into this farmyard a bit before, but nothing like this. If you look at the fenceline, you'll see that it's under about 3 feet of water. Now this picture is of the park directly across the water. There is usually a parking lot in front of that sign. (It's still there, just under a couple of feet of water. Notice the picnic pavilion that's barely above water. Now. Like I said, this was three days before the last big wave of storms hit. The day after the storms hit, we were driving home from the North and the bridge was closed. This pavilion? Was 3 feet deep in water. And then? It rained again. A lot. So we can't even get onto this road anymore but I can only imagine what it looks like now. And the farm on the other side--the water has to be up over the ground floor level of that house now. I'd guess their first floor is under at least a foot of water. The water just keeps coming, and there is nowhere for it to go. It is bizarre to be stranded like this. Events are being canceled left and right, local business is suffering since most people are avoiding the interstate, and you just "can't get from here to there" as someone reminisced is once true again. This is all bad--but nothing compared to what's happening in Iowa. The scariest part is that this may very well be just a glimpse of the future as we experience continued climate change, AKA global warming. In other news Sprout graduated from Kindergarten and our little bird turns 5. The world keeps turning on, regardless of climate change, regardless of the rain. It helps a little to know that hopefully our kids will grow up in a brighter future if we all do our part to stop and reverse the changes that past generations have put into motion. As Beo says, and it is more important than ever now: Be the change.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Close Up of Spring--Baby Robins

Greetings Dear Readers! I am taking the week off from both of my (paid) jobs, so I'm hoping to catch up with all of the blog posts I've had sitting in the hopper! First, I'd like to share the special close up of Spring we had the treat to see this year. A momma robin built her nest under the tiny eaves of the kids' playground in our backyard. We thought for sure she'd give up on it with the kids always running around, but no, soon there were three twee blue eggs, and one day Sprout noticed that one had hatched. I decided to take a picture so that the kids could get a close up view without traumatizing the mama. By the time I got the camera out, there were 2 babies. This was May 17th.

We tried to have the kids avoid the playground as much as possible after that. The momma would get super irritated even if the kids were in the vicinity. We didn't want to bug her, nor did we want the kids to get a pecking. We promised them they'd have their playground back soon, but I didn't look up how soon we could expect that to be. Well a week and a half later, we were outside while I hung out the laundry, and Sprout noticed that one of the babies was on the playground mulch. We got a towel and I went and looked at it. He was pretty sturdy, but I was afraid he'd be dog bait, so I gently scooped him up and climbed up the playground ladder and set him back down on his brothers/sisters. That was May 28th.

Just 3 days later, Bird came running upstairs early in the morning to tell us that the baby robin had come to visit. We wrote it off to her dreamy mind, but when Beo went downstairs, he came up laughing and told me I had to come look. Sure enough, there was a baby robin, right in the bush about 18 inches in front of our living room window. I tried to get some pictures through the screen. Poor momma was going crazy. She kept trying to come bring him food but she was scared to come so close to the house. She mostly sat on the bird feeder out front and squawked like crazy! Later that morning we were out front and had forgotten that the baby was so close. When I saw him I decided to get a closer picture. I got this shot, and then off he flew--right into the road! He just sat there so I walked around him to try to herd him back into the yard. He actually flew right up onto the neighbor's roof, so I wasn't worried about his flying ability then. Momma Robin was much happier taking food to him over there. We got squawked at a bit more that afternoon when we were in the backyard, but by the next day there was no sign of momma or babies. We're hoping that she might come again next year though. It was a really neat experience for all of us.