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Nature, Death and Life
April 12, 2010

Welcome new readers and please stick around.

Hopefully you can learn a thing or two.

Possibly you may be entertained from time to time.

More important, I hope we become friends.

You will also learn a bit about me from time to time.

Not only me, but my wife Karen and our special needs daughter Yolanda (Brain injured in a car crash several years ago).

I talk of my fur kids and share other things.

Thank you my friends, for sharing these letters as we grow and have fun.

Yes, I am a real person with real issues and a few answers.

We discuss Gardens, Nature, and a few non topics from time to time.

Last week brought SW. Michigan a full bag of weather.

From warmth and sun to cold and snow.

April in Michigan, you never know what to expect.

Last week I mentioned how we needed rain.

Well, we had rain and lots of it.

Some areas had localized flooding, still others had hale or wind damage.

More rain followed by snow showers and freeze warnings.

Then back to the 60's by Sunday.

It is after all early April.

Unless a person was a bit to eager with planting, nothing should be far enough along to suffer from the frost.

Spring Break......................

Karen and I took five boys ages 2 to 11 to the Children's Museum last Wednesday.

2 grandsons, 2 Foster grandsons, and a young boy Karen mentors.

We tip our hats to good behavior.

On the way back home we took a side trip to a local lake

Reeds Lake in East Grand Rapids.

I think the boys got a bigger kick watching the ducks and geese and wishing they could get their feet wet.

The Grand Prize of the day however, were the Common Loons that were enjoying a stop over while they fished and rested up.

The boys were amazed at how long they could stay under and how far they could swim under water.

No sense in trying to explain to much on solid bones and body build, just let the boys enjoy themselves.

I thoroughly enjoyed the wildlife.

I've never seen loons this far south before.

I wouldn't have had my camera to take this picture, had Karen not wanted pictures of the boys in the museum.

Still, they are difficult to get a good snap shot, they are always diving and popping up else where.

A bonus day all the way around.

I like those kind of days.

It goes to show you, you never know what you will see or where you might see it.

Main feeder birds are now Red-winged blackbirds, Brown-headed cowbirds (GRRR) and American goldfinches.

We still have several other birds, but not in winter numbers.

Yes, even a few Dark-eyed juncos are still here.

The resident Great Blue Heron has finally come back to the pond (I suppose it could be another one).

One thing lacking this past winter.

I never saw or heard the foxes over the winter.

No signs of the local Badger either.

The previous two winters I could see and hear the foxes at night.

The Badger was a rare sight, but the tracks it left were unmistakable.

There is no lacking of Cotton tail rabbits, however.

This week's topic is a bit on nature.


Nature is Grand.

Nature is full of surprises.

Nature is full of life and death.

Nature has its checks and balances and nothing goes to waste.

Death means Life (sound familiar).

As the circle continues.

Loss means gain and gain means loss.

While taking a couple of nature walks this past week, I was able to see life and death.

One can't continue without the other.

As you become more in tune with the world around you, you too will develop a keen sense awareness.

Last fall I shared a picture of a woodchuck carcass.

Today, this is all that is left of the woodchuck.

Who knows what and how many creatures feasted.

Death gave life.

(The images shown today are from my nature walks.)

On this same walk, I spotted a Garter snake hunting, look closely or you may not see it.

While many plants are still dormant or beginning to show signs of life, the moss was red with blooms, (image at bottom) full of life.

The remains of a turkey carcass, picked clean.

When and how..............................

Only nature knows.

What creatures lived because this one died?

The remains of a deer.

The skull, a bone or two and a small piece of hide is all that remains.

The meat, bones and innards fed many wild animals and microbes, I'm sure.

Now this is all within a half mile of where I live (suburbia).

Death means life, but it also gleans the weak and sick from and helps to insure a strong and manageable balance of nature.

Even bones are chewed on for calcium and by the tiniest of living matter.

One bird's feathers become another bird's nesting material.

Nothing goes to waste.

Even the moss is used to line the nests of chickadees and other species of birds.

We don't often think about these things.

Out of sight, out of mind.

However, about 25% of this year's bird eggs and hatchlings will make it to their first birthday.

This number may vary from year to year, but it averages out to around 25%.

The rest become food for another bird or animal.

In a balanced world, populations of rabbits, skunks, raccoons, squirrels mice and other furry creatures become food for birds of prey and larger animals.

When nature is out of balance, like it is in the suburbs and cities, animals become destructive.

They feed on our gardens and reek havoc on our home and other structures.

Diseases also become a factor.

Now it becomes personal and that means war.

It isn't the fault of wildlife, they were here first.

We are the invaders.

Like many others, I attempt to, or at least try to take certain measures to deter or chase off some wildlife from my gardens.

I have gone out of my way to plant certain native plants (and a few non native) that are rabbit and deer resistant (not Proof).

Plants that still attract wildlife I want like, birds, butterflies and so on.

Certain plants I can no longer plant or enjoy, I remove and don't replant.

It isn't worth it for me.

Still, life and death takes place in my suburban yard.

Hawks take smaller birds and small animals.

Often I can wake up to a pile of feathers or rabbit fur.

Checks and balances.

One of the main reasons certain species of wildlife like rabbits, mice, many species of birds and insects reproduce in great numbers is because they are there to feed the higher ups on the food chain.

Rabbits are viable all but 3 or 4 days of the month and only ovulate after a successful mating.

In 28 days she gives birth and is capable of starting over almost immediately.

Within 4 weeks, the first litter is on their own, while she is giving birth to yet another litter.

In warmer climates, this can be a year round happening.

Left unchecked, we would be over run by rabbits in a short period of time.

Death means life.

When food supplies are short, wolves, coyotes and other large predators may have a small litter or no litter at all.

Nature knows.

When food is lacking, birds of prey may have only one or none to fledge in a given year.

Now in years of bounty, litters and clutches are larger for all species and many more birds of prey fledge.

We need more predators to keep the larger numbers prey in check.

The same goes with insect life in our gardens.

Death means life.

plants die and decay, feeding microbes, worms and insects.

Birds feed on worms and the bugs.

'Gardening For Wildlife' means learning some restraint.

Hide the rake and the clippers.

If you want to invite nature, you must attract it first.

Plan and plant to attract birds, butterflies, toads and small mammals.

Make your gardens a year round habitat.

That means you want to copy nature.

Life means death and death means life.

The galls you may see on Goldenrod is full of life.

A certain species of fly lay her egg within and the larvae/pupa grows and over winters.

Birds like chickadees and Downy woodpeckers will feed on the high protein meal to help survive cold winter days.

Nature knows.

Hide the toxic insecticides and allow nature to work.

Oh sure, you will have a few holes in some plants, but does it really matter?

Insects invite birds. and you want birds.

Toxic insecticides kill birds too.

Bad bugs invite good bugs and the number of good species is larger than the bad bugs.

Life and death.

Checks and Balances.

Nature's way.

Check out this small list of the beneficial insects.

Give them a chance.

Besides, it is fun to watch and what a learning experience for all to see.

In a balanced ecosystem, and your gardens are mini ecosystems, all should be well most of the time.

(Exotic bugs like Japanese beetles or Emerald ash borers are a different beast all together, introduced, no natural predators.)

Next time you see a hawk nail a smaller bird.

Next time you see a raccoon stealing turtle eggs.

Next time you see the remains of a deer, turkey or woodchuck, after the 'awe poor creature' comments, remember that death means life.

The same goes for the baby bird that fell from the nest and died.

Checks and Balances.

It is good that we don't witness nature like this all the time, we couldn't handle it.

Yet we love to see insects take a beating.

Remember, many of our bugs are good bugs.

Not only do they feast on the bugs you despise, many of your insects are all important pollinators as well and that means life.

Checks and balances

Life and death.

Death and Life.

Nature is Grand.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best day and night to make you like everyone else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight - but never stop fighting!

E.E. Cummings

Read it again, but slowly.

Let this quote sink in.

From the day we enter this world, most of us are taught one way.

The way of the world.

The way society thinks we should think and behave.

We are taught to stay within the lines when we color (maybe I don't see what you see).

We are often taught the me factor, the greed factor and so on.

We are are even taught certain ways to worship God.

Most of the time it isn't God's way or what he would like (he still loves us, however).

The truly blessed person is the one that is encouraged to think on their own.

This person gets the creative juices flowing.

This individual is reminded all the time that they can be anything and do most anything.

This persons potential is unleashed.

I'm a Southpaw and we think differently (right brained).

Yes, I am still told I'm weird and different because don't think like all of society wants me to think or act.

True I must conform in some ways just to get along, but now when some other person calls me weird or different, I look at them and say "Thank You".

Imagine if Einstein, Edison and a host of others were kept down and believed they were unteachable as they were often told.

Think and be the best YOU that you can be.

Don't allow others and society dictate to you.

You are an individual.

A free thinking, free spirited, wonderful, unlimited potential individual.

You aren't the masses.

You are you.

One person that can make a difference.

One Very Special Person.

And never stop fighting.

If you give in, you give up and you lose your individualism.

Be the person God intended for you to be.

That should put a big smile on your face.

Smile wide and smile often.

Share your smiles and life will smile back.

Until next time..............

God Bless.

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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