Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
Click on Mark Twain to jump to Troutbirders book review blog

Wednesday, August 30, 2017


The neighborhood surrounding our little abode is known as Oak Hill. Naturally, with the exception of a few white pines I planted, it's mainly large mature oak trees. The oaks consist of white, burr and a few reds. They shade and shelter us. On occasion they draw lightening bolts. Overall I love their strength and beauty. Except....

Except for one little thing. Acorns. It's been  a super year for acorns. A few years ago  a friend asked for a few acorns to plant. Zip. I couldn't find a one .... It seems oaks usually produce some seeds most years and occasionally a super abundance or the year when there were none at all here in the upper Midwest.

This year.... well take a look at my deck. Every day for a week now it has looked liked this.

And every day Mrs. T. sweeps it clean. No walking in the back yard with bare feet. Ouch! Was I happy about this situation? No way. Was anybody happy about this situation? I guess so!

Something tells me all the critters here on Oak Hill will be well fed with acorns this winter....:)

Monday, August 28, 2017

Dover Beach

Continuing with a few of my favorite poems.  It's not a top ten list of any kind. Just a few of those poems which I remember well because at a certain point in my life they had influence and meaning to me personally.  I started with Percy Bysshe Shelly and Ozymandias. My next choice next was The Testament of a Fisherman by Robert Traver. My next choice is Dover Beach by Mathew Arnold. Click on Mark Twain above to jump to Troutbirder II

Thursday, August 17, 2017

A Teeny Weeny Prairie

As I've explained previous posts, when we sold our old house with its expansive sunny flower and vegetable garden and moved next door into a new house in the oak and pine tree woods, there was a big change in what grew and what didn't. I was into nurturing native woodland wildflowers and planting lots of hostas, hydrangea's  and the like.  What not to like. No big lawn to mow and veggie garden to weed.  There was only one problem, in the meantime I had fallen in love with prairies. For that I needed sunshine. Could I find a place on our land that offered enough????

Indeed. There it was a ten foot high bank facing East of our woods.  It got the morning sun and that was it.  Was that enough to create something amenable to native prairie plants?  Take a closer look.
And towering high above Mrs. T. a true native prairie denizen.... The Cup Plant ( type of sunflower). Also to her left some wild phlox. These pictures were taken a few days ago in mid August. July saw an outburst of several types of coneflowers and fall will see an outburst of several kinds of wild asters.
The pictures below are from our friend Gary's restored prairie.  It gets really spectacular when you have several acres to work with....:)

Monday, August 14, 2017

Rounding Up The Garden

It all startedwhen we moved next door into the woods to build a new house. I left behind several
beautiful sunny gardens and wildflowers along the back of the house and the adjacent woods. Then there was the vegetable garden.

For decades I supplemented the soil from an active compost pile. The soil became deep rich and loamy. It produced bountiful crops of delicious vegetables. Nothing like home grown is there?

I knew that our new home in the woods next door would require a different gardening approach. Native woodland flowers and other shade growing plants. Surrounded by giant oak trees and white pine there was really no place for a vegetable garden.

I was pointing this all out to Mrs T. Our days of growing, canning and freezing our own crops were over. We would find and patronize local farmers markets. That would be just as good and a lot less work. I especially noted that I would not miss all the hoeing and weeding. Thirty years of that was just about enough!

About that time our friend and neighbor farmer Dick dropped by. He heard Mrs T’s sad story about the end of our vegetable growing days. "Not a problem," he noted generously,
"I have 14 acres of corn on the west side of your woods. Use whatever you need for your garden." Mrs T lit up like a Christmas tree. "Oh how wonderful" she enthused. "Well ah... I’m sort of retiring from that field," I noted cautiously. Getting the "look" I piped down quickly. "Then I’m going to do it," she added..... We were back in the vegetable growing business.

From overhead you can see the emerging corn to the west on the far left. Our house is hidden in the oak trees. The deck faces the setting sun. The plan that developed featured me sitting on the deck, binoculars and adult beverage in hand, offering cogent supervisory assistance, while she worked the garden. Great idea, I thought. That lasted, of course less than a week. I was back to weeding...:(

The garden angel!

Its been 12 years now since that inauspicious beginning. Each year the garden seems to have grown in size. It apparently has a will all of its own. I can’t explain it. The soil is rocky and not very fertile but the weeds seem to grow better than ever. Till this year. I had studied the adjacent corn field very carefully. Fourteen acres and NOT A SINGLE WEED. I asked what the key to this phenomena was? Roundup its called. By mid July I was definitely losing the weed war. I thought .... what the heck I’ll give it a try. One gallon sprayer in hand I attacked the persistent little green intruders. Success. They wilted and died.

It wasn’t till a couple of weeks later that it became apparent that the tomatoes, peppers beans etc. seemed to be in a permanent sulk. Not exactly dead but with leaves curled tightly and not growing any more. Consulting my farmer friend I received the third degree. "Did you hold the sprayer nozzle within two inches of the ground? Was it very windy the day you sprayed.?" Oh oh...
Drift can be a serious problem with herbicides. Apparently one should read the directions on the container.

In light of the semi-wilted state of the national economy, perhaps next winter, when all the garden catalogues arrive, I will revive my argument that stimulating the local farmers markets is the patriotic thing to do.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Opening of Zucchini Season


Subject: Opening of zucchini season in Minnesota

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Some Favorite Poems

I've started a list of some of my favorite poems. Click on Mark Twain above to jump to Troutbirder II- Reviews and Views.

And yes there's even one about trout fishing...:)

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Reminiscing Hayden Prairie

We headed south last week, a few miles into northwest Iowa. Near Lime Springs is a remnant of Americas frontier past. A 300 acre plot of never tilled land. Its called Hayden Prairie.
Named after Ada Hayden, who was the first woman to receive a doctorate at Iowa State College (now called Iowa State University). Her doctorate was earned in 1918, making her the fourth student, male or female, to obtain a Ph.D. at Iowa State College. In 1920 she was appointed Assistant Professor of Botany at Iowa State. Teaching probably occupied a great deal of her time until 1934, when her appointment was changed to a research position in the Agriculture Experiment Station.
She devoted herself to prairie preservation and research. She wrote 29 papers, most dealing with Iowa flora. She campaigned for a system of prairie preserves.

You have to get up close and personal to spot the hundreds of different wildflowers, as they change with each passing season. Naturally, I brought my binoculars so I didn't miss any. On this particular day I was specifically looking for gray-headed coneflowers. Also sunflowers were also on my list as I heard there were hundreds  of varieties. Now where are they?
Perhaps Baron might spot a few. He has a nose for finding things.
Wait somebody else in on the path. It's Joe Pye(weed)!

Putting my binocs down I noticed the gray-headed coneflowers all around me. And stretching far into the distance.

Walking further down the path, I saw a bunch of blazing stars... and its wasn't even dark yet!
Swamp Milkweed one of  the wildflower paparazzi's (Mrs. T's) many targets.
Although full professor status was denied her, and she received little public recognition for her accomplishments, she continued to work for what she believed in until her death in 1950. During her time at Iowa State, she collected over 30,000 plant specimens for the herbarium and also sent many duplicates to other institutions. Hayden Prairie is a remarkable place and its naming is a fitting tribute to a remarkable woman. Way to go Iowa!