Saturday, June 4, 2011

Hatching Time

Early Summer Greetings from Mother Nature

It seems like it was just a few days ago and I was sending a picture about spring seeding in the snow and now it is 90 degrees. I got irritated with the train guys for not making a post in April or May, almost so much that I wanted to type it myself. But, then I remember I have no hands and it is up to humans to write text for me. Hopefully, they will heed my need to communicate more frequently or I may get angry with them. It is not nice to mess with Mother Nature.

So last month I decided to let some birds put a nest in the ornamental cherry trees (yes, I know they are not native to Iowa). The train guys did a pretty nice job of trimming them in February and getting rid of the low growth. The result is a much nicer place for a bird to build a nest. She has protection, but she can see if any predator is coming near. It is fairly well hidden; OK, she could have done better, but this is her first year, so give her a break. Remember, she has a bird brain. Fortunately I create a lot of birds so that some will survive.

The train guys did a nice job of using yellow caution tape to keep visitors out of the area and they did not mow near the tree which was also considerate. As you can see, in just a few short weeks, the result. A nice nest with six new birds. I had them take this picture on the second or third day (can't remember now) after they hatched. The babies are still very vulnerable, but the mother is fairly protective and she will be busy feeding them.

With all the neighbors ripping up their trees and insect and bird habitat, the insect population on the train farm is exploding this year. Lots of good bird food, but in the long term it will even out. Unfortunately, the desire to destroy habitat will have a detrimental effect on the birds' ability to find a variety of trees for their nests.

Enjoy the extra insects and birds this summer; next summer will be a bit worse as the humans continue to industrialize and intensify every last square inch of Iowa for a few extra bucks. All that destruction just to put some corn in their cars. The price will be steep, but it will be gradual until it is too late to change.

Yours truly,

Mother Nature

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Frost Seeding

Spring Greetings from Mother Nature:

I gave Iowa a perfectly average winter -- average temperatures; a few days below zero to kill off the weak; and average snowfall. Despite average, still lots of whiners. They should move south and let normal people enjoy what I am doing in Iowa this year.

Time to do a bit of frost seeding; I have been doing it for a few billion years and man has been doing for a few thousand years. The principle is pretty simple. I give you some warm days and cold nights. After most of the frost is out of the ground a warm day will make the soil wet and soggy. Drop a few seeds on the wet ground during the day when it is moist and expansive and overnight the soil will shrink a bit as it freezes (water is densest at 39 degrees). The cycle of freeze/thaw every day will work the seed into the soil and it will germinate when soil temp reaches the proper temp for that particular seed.

With my native grasses, we have been doing this for many thousands of years, maybe 100,000 years or so, but I tend to lose count of the years; I just enjoy the process now.

The train guys did a nice job of putting some seed down on Sunday on the bare soil they disturbed last year while fixing their railroad. They were very considerate harvesting my local ecotype seed; scratching the soil a bit; then carefully evenly distributing the seed. To top if off, they even rolled the ground lightly to ensure optimum seed/soil contact. Nothing happens without good contact and they did a nice job.

As a reward for that effort I decided to drop about two inches of snow overnight. This will provide some nice gentle moisture during the day. I have a few more nights of below freezing temps planned, so I think the process will work quite well. Hopefully, my birds will ignore this seed. I have lots of other seed available but they are in a mating frenzy -- but that is another story for another time.

Enjoy the warm days and cool nights of spring. Spring is some of my finest work.

Yours truly,

Mother Nature

P.S. I wanted to put the railroad pictures down here, but the train guy who types out what I tell him has not figured out how to do it. Just another problem for Mother Nature, but then I am not going to worry about it; I have other, bigger things to worry about.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Feeding the Birds

Feeding the Birds in Winter

Mother Nature has been pretty quiet in Iowa this year. I gave you a rough winter last year and I really believe in averages, so a somewhat average one for the first half of winter. I have been busy in Australia warning them about too much pollution. Lots of warm air holds a really lot of water as they have found out.

In the U.S. this winter, I decided to let a lot of snow fall on the East Coast and Southeast. They are really a bunch of pansies. I always follow up with some warm weather in a few days to melt most of the snow. You would think the world was ending the way they carry on. Oh, maybe they are on to something there in their unique self suffering way.

In the Midwest and on the Great Plains, I prefer some snow followed by bitterly cold weather. How else are you going to have a tundra if I did not set up ideal conditions.

I had one of the train guys take this picture of my birds and prairie grass in December to show you well I have designed my feed supply for the birds. The different prairie grasses hold their seeds for different lengths of time during the winter. This allows some seed to be on the vertical plants for those birds that like to perch and peck. Some of the seed falls on the ground and snow for those birds that like to eat while standing on the ground. This process continues throughout the winter so there is always a nice seed supply available. Pretty darn nice design if I say so myself.

Well, time to go dump some snow on most of the U.S. After all, it is February. Go out and enjoy the snow and sun that will follow in a few days.

Yours truly,
Mother Nature