Thursday, February 12, 2009

Who Cooks for You...Who cooks for You All...

Oh my! What was that racket the other morning at the crack of dawn??? It was the owls! It was the owls!

The Barred Owl is one of the most common species of owls in our area. They are medium sized, gray-brown streaked with white horizontal barring on the chest and vertical barring on the belly. They are round-headed with a whitish/brown facial disk with dark brown trim. An unusual trait but quite endearing are their dark brown eyes. I am always a sucker for brown eyes. Hehe. The females are larger than the males.

This is the time of year when the Barred Owls nest! They are among the first nesting birds of the year. Yes! Spring is on the way.  

Owls have so many cool adaptations that make them a totally unique bird.
  • Owls can rotate their heads three-quarters of the way around!  They are unable to move their eyes from side to side but are fixed in the sockets. Those eyes are huge and capable of gathering a lot of light from the most dimmest sources. Most beneficial for their nocturnal habits.
  • Owls are capable of "silent flight". The wings are large and have fringed edges so air passes through silently during flight. This makes the owls job much easier when hunting prey.  Sneaky birds.
  • Owls are predators. They catch, kill and eat other animals in order to survive. If their prey is small enough they are able to swallow it whole otherwise they rip and tear it up with their powerful talons and beak and swallow it in chunks. The bird then digests the good stuff and expells the rest in the form of a pellet. A pellet is a kind of hairball. Most often there is a complete skeleton  inside. What a fun thing it is to dissect an owl pellet and try to ID the bones!
  • Owls have the best hearing of all birds. Their ears are located on the sides of their heads and hidden by feathers. The shape of the face and location of ears enable the bird to pick up sound waves at incredible levels. They can detect a mouse or vole as it moves under the snow or in the leaves as it perches way up in a nearby tree. 

"And if anyone knows anything about anything, it's Owl who knows something about something..."

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Totally Terrific Tomato

Something I miss most during these long winter months is fresh local produce. There is nothing better than a "just picked" juicy tomato on a hot summer day, with a bit of salt of course. Well, I did come very close with this baby. It was grown kind of locally, in Cresco, IA. Not sure how it was grown but this is the closest thing to a summer tomato that you will ever get! The taste was rich and acidic, not mealy and bland like the tomatoes you might find in the store. 
This is a picture of my lunch. A perfect lunch in my opinion. Homemade bread toast, real butter and my totally terrific tomato! With a bit of salt, of course.

Speaking of local produce, I just signed up again with the CSA farm for another summer of fresh, local produce. I can hardly wait.

For those that have not heard of the term "CSA", it stands for Community Supported Agriculture. It is a farm where you pay the farmer a given amount of money at the beginning of the season for a share of the produce usually delivered  weekly to a certain pick-up spot or at the farm. It is so important to support small local food producers in these days of  factory farms and GMO mutants. It's so nice to see who grew my food. It's also nice to see the chickens that give me my eggs. A wonderful connect that you can't get at your grocery store when the average food product has traveled over 1500 miles to get to your table.

Five reasons to buy local:
  • Taste and Freshness
  • Food Safety
  • Environmental Protection
  • Economic Health
  • Connection
I could elaborate on all those reasons but maybe in another post. 

Prairie Clover

Friday, February 6, 2009

Teaser Days

Ah Yes, this was one of those "teaser days". You know...the kind of day where you feel like spring may just be behind the corner...but it's not. Dang.

I checked my computer for the actual temperature several times today and when it reached the magic number of 42 
degrees I ventured out on the trails. 

Please notice there are still several inches of snow and I happened to wear my tennies. What was I thinking? Did I really think the trails would be snow free? I did form a perfect snowball though.

I am wondering how the trail really looks under all that snow. This area was terribly washed out with the flood. Notice the foot or so step up to the bridge. Used to be flush. 

Soon we will start tapping the maple trees for their sap and boiling it down for that sweet sweet treat of early spring. Maple Syrup. Can hardly wait.

Soon the crocuses will start peaking up through the snow offering their cute little blooms to brighten our day.

Soon the male cardinals will sing love songs to lure potential mates.

Soon it will be spring!

Do ya think if I kiss this frog it will turn into a prince?

Thursday, February 5, 2009


This would be my first post, my maiden voyage, my initial journey. Welcome to my blog!