About Blog Title...
As a child, it was one of my greatest delights to visit my grandparents in the spring when the whip-poor-wills began to call. Grandma and Grandpa lived in a remote valley of the Ozark Mountains where there were trees a plenty, and, seemingly, a whip-poor-will, or two, in each one.
My grandmother insisted that a whip-poor-will's call was not "whip-poor-will," but instead, "chip-butter-white-oak." I would listen really hard trying to hear it exactly as she said it was, but all I could hear was "whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will,..." But, I never let on to her.
I remember my grandpa watching and listening, with an amused look on his face, to one of these listening sessions. Shortly after that he began to call me, just for fun, "Chip Butter." It is a name I am proud to wear for I still love to hear that long, lonesome call on a warm summer's eve. And, sometimes, when I listen really, really hard, it seems I can hear quite clearly, "chip-butter-white-oak, chip-butter-white-oak..."
Thursday, August 30, 2012
It is simple fare these days for the wild critters...mostly what can be stolen from farmers' barns and feed troughs. Living off the land is not going to be easy this winter. When I was out and about yesterday, I snapped a few shots of these slim pickings.
Pokeweed plants are eaten by deer. The berries and seeds are eaten by song and game birds.
The fruit and seeds from the Hercules' Club or Devil's Walking Stick (Ginseng Family) is eaten by song and game birds, bear, and other small mammals. Its foliage is browsed by deer. There are several of these tall shrubs on the place, but most have no fruit this year.
The unbranched trunk of the Devil's Walking Stick is armed with stout, sharp spines. Is it any wonder that this shrub was named such?
There are only a few pawpaws this year, most having fallen before maturing. I was able to find only a few on the trees. The fruits are normally a bit larger than this one. They are greenish in color, fleshy somewhat like a banana, and readily consumed by small animals and birds. This one would have probably suited my taste, but it was too high in the tree for me to reach. The little wild critters need it more than I do, for sure.
These pawpaws had fallen to the ground...first come, first serve.
Much of the wildlife in the Ozarks is dependent on the acorn as a main food staple. Acorns seem to be in short supply this year, even though the pin oak in this picture seems to have a good number.
After frost the pale orange persimmon will become sweet to the taste and have high food value. Furbearers including fox, skunk, also deer, bear, coyote and other mammals and birds feed upon the fruit. It is a good thing for these animals that we have a fairly good persimmon crop this year.
Saturday, August 25, 2012
Thursday, August 23, 2012
As I sat in the yard a couple of evenings ago talking on the phone to my daughter, Nell began to bark loudly and incessantly into the darkness. My daughter, hearing the commotion on the other end of the conversation, asked in a concerned voice what Nell was barking at. In reply, I told her it didn't matter because there was nothing out there in the darkness that I was afraid of.
It could have been one of these fellows who keep trying to become tame in their quest to find something to eat. We have affectionately named them "The Boys."
It would not have been this flock of wild turkeys for they would have already gone to roost in the trees on the ridge behind our house. The turkeys are faring much better than most of the wild critters during these days of drought for they spend long hours each day chasing and dining on the hordes of grasshoppers that have overtaken the land.
Of course, it might have been the one-eared doe who comes to the back door begging for table scraps. She is quite gentle but discreet enough that she usually comes in under Nell's radar. This picture was taken through the window blind in the kitchen.
The bear we have seen here and there around the place seems to have moved on, probably hoping to find more to eat elsewhere. It is the one neighbor that I might give a wider berth, but only a little. I will not be satisfied until I can get him in front of my lens (but, first I really need a new lens, one of those telephoto lens with maximum aperture, whatever that means, and with image stabilizer, etc....maybe for my birthday!)
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Our woodland neighbors are having a hard time of it this year because of the drought. These little masked-faced bundles of fur, hopefully, had to spend only one day away from Mama because of these hard times. Circumstances beyond these little fellows' control in which Mama's quest for food prevailed over her good judgement, led to their temporary relocation. As my dad always said, "They are just trying to make a living."
It was my desire to hide somewhere near as darkness settled over the woods to watch the saga unfold. (Mama comes looking for babies...Babies come down tree...Happy ending!) Instead, I just checked back on the little darlings at dusk and saw that they were still clinging to their trusty branches. By morning, they were gone. The ending will never be known, but just in case they come back, food will be waiting.
Later in the day, when I went to check, they had moved closer together and were sound asleep.
Friday, August 17, 2012
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
It is a well traveled path made by feet other than ours, by creatures who make a pilgrimage each day to find life sustaining water. We walked that path today, ever mindful of the growing scarcity of water. We are not the first to suffer through times of little rain. The rocks, ages old, over which water should be flowing, know the story well. It is not a time for the weak, whether man or beast, plant or animal, but for the strong to step forward, to surge on for those who will follow the next year and the next.
It is with delight that we find emerging out of the earth the trickle of water from beneath the roots of an old oak tree. The pond is still filled to overflowing. Shadows are reflected in shallow pools along the rocky stream bed. The water still flows. This is another of today's blessings.