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September 12, 2011
Excuse me while a I show some Patriotism.
"God Bless America."
(If I use all capital letters or exclamations, many spam filters may flag and trash this letter.)
I refuse to call it a ten year anniversary.
Anniversaries should be times of celebration.
There is nothing to celebrate when it comes to cowardice acts like the ones that happened ten years ago.
I suppose we could celebrate America's resolve and how a country comes together, but Never will I call anything related to an act of cowardice and terrorism an anniversary.
Okay, I said my short piece.
Had our local paper not had an article on this on Friday, I would've missed out once again.
The Powwow held by the "Grand Valley American Indian Lodge" this past weekend.
A small part of me is Native American or American Indian.
I enjoy learning a bit about my heritage and some of the culture.
What was really special, was the 'Grand Entry'
Along with the entry was the flag celebration and a reminder to all of us that 'Freedom Isn't Free'.
(Notice the "regalia" or outfits worn, never call them costumes).
Also, how the American Indian is quick to volunteer to defend his land.
A visit to any Native American cemetery will hold this to be true, as a high percentage are veterans or gave their lives in war.
I have a few pictures peppered throughout, including one one with the American flag, Canada's flag and various Indian poles and there flags.
It was a very moving and heart felt experience.
A special moment was, when all people, colors, cultures and all were invited to dance (Indian style).
I made a lap around and I must say, it felt good.
Okay, lets get on with today's letter.
Our prayers continue for the storm ravaged east and for the people and the state of Texas as they continue to deal with mass devastation from wild fires.
The most difficult part will be for the people as they try to piece their lives back together.
From a nature stand point...
I have found that nature, much like its Creator is very forgiving.
If left alone, within a short time plant life
It always does.
Fall is definitely in the air.
We have been teased by a couple of 80 degree days, only to have it cool off again this week.
As I'm sitting here trying to write this letter, I am busy watching a couple of hummingbirds chase each other around the yard.
Even now, as they prepare for migration, territorial and food rights seem to be an issue.
(My apologies, my camera isn't good enough to capture the fast pace action.)
They often in sync with the same wing beat.
"Nature" sure is Grand.
Sometime on a calm night, and if you are located away from city noise, step outside.
Be quiet and listen.
Besides the crickets, Katydids, and other insects you will hear, train your ears to the sky.
You may or may not hear the wing beat of hundreds of birds, but you should here a chirp, or a peep every so often.
In different locations
Bird communication during night flight.
Some nights you may hear this more than others, and this will continue for the next several weeks.
Speaking of night skies.
Two to three hours after sunset, you will see the Planet Jupiter as it dominates the Eastern sky.
Early risers can see the Jovian planet in the west before sunrise.
Continue to enjoy your gardens and wildlife, as the end of growing season draws near.
Just because my friends in the south and along the west coast have an extended season, doesn't mean you too shouldn't enjoy what you have.
We'll be gone the remainder of the day (Monday), I will get to your e-mails on Tuesday.
Today's letter is simply what is titled.
It's no secret that the cost of feeding birds has sky rocketed this year.
Seeds and grain are commodities and are bought and sold as such (future prices).
Speculations of this past springs floods, summer's drought, projected harvests and other issues play a huge roll when future buying.
As more black oil seeds are going into cooking oils and other products, that leaves less for bird feeding.
Now, do we import from other countries or what?
There is mention of that as well.
The price of corn has also reached record high prices.
Not only are the same issues as above an issue for corn, but now China is a player.
American farmers are growing and selling corn and wheat for China.
America grows and sells corn to the world markets and it comes down to the all Mighty Dollar.
I haven't read or heard on other seeds and feeds just yet for this year.
I know I pay $31.99 for 50 pounds of oilers and $14.99 for 50 pounds of cracked corn.
I haven't found a better price locally.
A 50# bag of peanut splits cost me $35.99
Nyjer is at $39.99 a 50# bag.
If you are paying much more, than you are getting hosed.
I have cut down on what I feed the birds, and have trained them to feed at certain times of the day.
You can do this too.
In fact, this is a good time to start training the birds, as many species will soon be setting up winter feeding territories and you want them well adjusted to your schedule
Thankfully "Nature" and the gardens are providing a bounty right now.
Late summer and early autumn is a good time to clean and sanitize nest boxes.
If wasps are an issue, spray the boxes with a straight cider vinegar or mint oil mixture.
Both will kill wasps and keep them away the rest of the season.
The smell as well as the acid of the vinegar does the trick, while mint is a neurotoxin for all wasps and bees.
Once mint gets on a wasp, they drop dead and right now.
Because both are food items, they are harmless to your birds.
Remember this for next spring.
Living near a pond in late summer, offers me opportunities to snap a few pictures of dragonflies and damselflies.
Pictured is what I believe to be an eight spotted skimmer.
While all skimmers are in the dragonfly family, not all dragonflies are skimmers.
It all has to do with families, species, subspecies and so on.
One day when you have nothing better to do, you can look it up.
This young male Northern cardinal Enjoys my yard.
I've been watching as he goes through his first molt.
Yes, when he losses his drab juvenile colors and takes on the colors of an adult bird.
Look closely, and you can even see his bill is in the process of changing colors too.
Most species of birds wont obtain their true adult colors until the second year of molting.
Yes, he will be red, but not the bright red an older cardinal will have.
Adult cardinals seem to disappear for a couple of weeks during molt.
Almost as if they are embarrassed to be seen.
Part of that may be true, but most has to do with flight.
Sure cardinals can still fly during molt, however birds that stick out like a sore thumb need to be in peak performance.
A slow bird is a dead bird.
Cardinals do go into hiding somewhat, but this is for there own safety.
When some of your regular birds seem to disappear for a couple of weeks, you may now know why.
I spotted this swallowtail butterfly in the backyard a few days ago.
It wasn't until I snapped this picture that I realized it was beat up.
Never, have I seen a butterfly of any type this beat up and still living.
Each piece taken from the wings is where a bird nipped at it.
Yet, there is still enough wing to fly around and with this kind of toughness, I hope it had a chance to breed and pass on that gene pool.
Here is another case of what we see as a fragile creature, 'Nature' has provided it with some pretty good stuff.
The Natural World never ceases to amaze me.
If you are noticing what looks like miniature bomb explosions going off in your yard, you have grubs.
The tiny craters are from skunks digging around your yard looking for food.
I don't mind the little digs, not only are they ridding my lawn of pests, but they are aerating as well.
Beetles that laid eggs earlier this summer are now hungry and growing grubs that are doing massive damage to your grass and some garden plants.
In the spring when skunks come out of hibernation and grubs are once active again, yards can really look like a small battle field.
Fear the grubs, not the skunks.
Besides the birds, butterflies and moths are busy too.
I have these Hummingbird moths or Sphinx moth enjoying the flowers right now.
The Hummingbird Moth, unlike most moths, is seen on clear, sunny days.
Many people do confuse it to be a baby hummingbird because of its coloration and how it moves.
In reality, fledged hummingbirds are about the same size as the adults.
Hummingbird Moths grow up to two inches long.
Tufts of hairs from the end of the abdomen look a lot like feathers.
Sometimes the hair is red near the body.
They have an olive-green body with red bands across their abdomen.
The wings of this moth are mostly clear and are also called a 'Clear Wing Moth'.
Hummingbird Moths live in fields, gardens, and forest edges.
Hummingbirds use a tongue and lick the nectar, moths and butterflies suck it up.
Hummingbird Moths like butterflies, use a long, thin, straw, needle like mouth part called a proboscis to eat.
The proboscis stays coiled up until it is time to feed.
When it approaches a flower, the proboscis uncoils and dips deep into the
Well, it is time to fly for now.
Before I go, here is your positive thought for this week.
You gotta take a step across the line
Let Jesus fill your heart and mind
I can show you where to look
But you've got to seek to find
You got to take a step across the line
Don Francisco (Christian singer/song writer and pastor)
'Step across the Line'
And how do you step across the line?
Ask, Seek, Knock.
"Ask, and it shall be given you;
"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,
Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.
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