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What is the real disaster?
July 07, 2008

I hope everyone enjoyed your country's birthday, whether is was the "United States of America" or "Canada".

America's Birthday was enjoyable and I must say, the local "Fire Works" seemed better this year than in years past.

The weather was in our favor as well.

Speaking of weather, it was our turn to get some heavy rains.

This past Wednesday, we received almost 6 inches of rain in a 6 hour period, and that was with breaks between storms.

More than 200,000 homes and businesses lost power.

Crews were called in as far away as Kentucky to help get Michigan up and running again.

Thank God, we never lost our power or suffered and real damage.

Other than that, the weather has been near perfect the past several days.

So far this year, we have had enough timely rains to keep wild plants going strong.

That means plenty of food for the wildlife around here.

Out in the fields, wild daisies are in full bloom (naturalized, non native plants introduced from early settlers) and native Black-eyed-susans are starting to blossom.

My feeders are getting real busy again, as several parents are bringing fledglings to my yard and feeders.

Finches, sparrows, cardinals and robins are a few of the locals that are busy with offspring.

Don't you get a kick out of seeing youngsters almost the size of their parents crying and begging for food.

Then you get the strange situation of a House finch or Song sparrow feeding a bird twice its size.

Yup, the Brown headed cow bird strikes again.

There is always something to look forward to at a well prepared feeding station.

Barn and Tree swallows continue to navigate around the pond. I love to watch them fly as the bob and weave so effortlessly as they catch dinner on the fly and than slide down for a quick drink without missing a beat.

The resident House wren has found himself a girlfriend.

She is busy grooming the nest and he still manages to sing me a song, just not as often, now that he is busy with a lady friend.

Akita goes for her heart worm test this week, to see what she needs for that.

Ziggy the poodle pup is to young so he gets the drops for the back of the neck.

Skeeters are a real pain all the way around.

It wasn't enough that Yolanda had toe nail removed on Tuesday, Yolanda and Karen have been under the weather the past few days. They have some kind of a crud that cause a fever, congestion and a thick chest, raspy voice and lots of coughing.

Keep the stuff away from me.......................

The baby ducks are from the hatching at the garden center I work at. You may recall my weekly updates......

Well, here they are a couple of weeks after the fact.

My apologies for the poor quality, mama didn't want me getting to close.

I feel the urge today...................

Enough so that I think I will get my orange crate out and climb up on it.

For all the newer readers, I don't have a soap box to stand on, I have this orange crate.

Every so often I get the urge or something gets under my skin and I have to vent.

So here I go....................................

A couple of weeks ago, I made a quick mention about "Natural Disasters" and the effects on wildlife etc.

So much depends on how you look at things and what is considered a "Natural Disaster".

Some of what we often call a natural disaster is partially man made or we play a large role in it.

No way am I trying to minimize the loss of life and property, but some things we can control.

Our love for living near water is a great example.

We know that rivers flood and oceans have tidal surges, yet people continue to move near bodies of water.

Mangroves are removed, trees and native grasses are striped from the landscape.

We alter the environment to fit our needs, or so it seems.

Houses are built on cliffs and hillsides and when a mud slide or earthquake happens, it becomes a natural disaster.

Massive fields of corn and soy beans dissipate more moisture than open fields and prairies. That moisture has to go somewhere doesn't it?

So we end up with gully washers and high water levels that cause floods.

I'm not saying this is the only reason, but can be a contributing factor.

Sure,many things are out of our control.

Tornadoes seem to come from no where, taking everything that gets in its way.

Lightening strikes that set forests and fields ablaze.

Yet, fire has a cleaning or purifying quality about it.

Yes, fire cleans up old debris that hinders new growth.

Where fire once torched the land, new and fresh growth emerges.

Natural disasters are often "Nature's" way of doing some house cleaning.

Some wildlife require fresh scrub to nest and survive (Kirkland's warbler here in Michigan is a prime example).

Not everything is about old growth habitats.

Even where volcanos devastate and completely alter the escarpment, life begins anew.

Wildlife often can detect disaster before it happens and will flee an area.

You will read me or hear me say how nature can be cruel and hard.

Disasters will take the weak, babies to helpless to flee and so on.

Thinning out the herd so to speak.

Harsh winters is another way that "Nature" will thin out wildlife.

Only the strong survive so to speak.

Nature has a way of keeping a balance and what we call "Natural Disasters" are one of "Nature's" ways of keeping a healthy balance if we don't interfere to much.

To much of a certain species will weaken the population and an eco-system.

The real disasters are man made.

When we alter a region for one reason or another.

Forests are stripped for wood or to put in a housing development.

Trees, fields and wetlands are removed to put in a new mall or more houses.

Waterways are altered and the atmosphere is in disarray.

Floods become an issue, to much rain, not enough rain.

Floods,mud slides, drought.

To hot, to cold.

Places that rarely experienced frost, can now almost expect it.

Research has shown that draining much of Florida is a reason for many of the frosty nights they experience.

You see, the wetlands and waterways would keep ground level a few degrees warmer. Now that security is all but gone.

Tidal surges wipe out towns and cities., yet we continue to build in harms way.

Stripping the forests and fields.

Landscapes that once flourished, become waste lands.

Deserts become man-made oasis and rivers like the once "Mighty Colorado River" no longer reaches the Ocean.

The Mississippi River becomes polluted with fertilizers and chemicals that it creates a dead zone where nothing can live as it empties into the Gulf of Mexico.

Some of our preciouss wildlife and plant life are now extinct or on the endangered species list.

Killing off predators like fox and the wolf and other mammals like rabbits and deer become nuisance animals.

The introduction of non-native and invasive species creates major disasters in our environment and to our economy.

I can mention Emerald Ash Borers, Zebra Mussels, and a host of other foreign invaders just in Michigan and the Great Lakes Region.

I know where you live there are several introduced species of plants, rodents and other insects and mammals that plague your area.

These are the real disasters

Yes, "Natural Disasters" are very real and they can't always be avoided, but with some smart planning, we can minimize the effects on us.

With smart planning, we can also minimize the effects of non-native invasions and help to improve the natural life around us.

The natural world God intended for humans to enjoy or even hunt for food.

There are electric gates on the Chicago River to hopefully prevent a breed of Chinese carp from reaching Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes system.

Farmed fish that escaped a flood and found the Mississippi River and its connecting rivers to its liking.

So aggressive is this fish that it out competes native fish for food and is causing major problems along the rivers.

A disaster caused by a flood, but could've been avoided with better planning and management.

If this fish reaches the Great Lakes, it will be a major disaster.

Man made disasters are what we need to be concerned about, we can take measures and now.

Man made disasters can be prevented.

What we do today effects not only tomorrow and future generations, it also plays a huge role in our wildlife.

What we do can alter "Nature's" delicate balance.

Like its "Creator", nature is very forgiving and will heal if we let it do so.

If you live in suburbia like I do, you may see more wildlife now than you ever saw before.

Growing up in rural Michigan was great, but I see more deer, rabbits, skunks, raccoons and other critters living in town than I ever saw in the country.

Now we get ticked off when a rabbit, deer, or woodchuck grazes in our gardens.

Now we have a new disaster, but this becomes personal when our gardens become a buffet for every four legged creature out there.

You get the idea by now.

If you can't beat them, you "Garden For Wildlife".

For most of us, we can garden to minimize certain disasters.

Planting natives not only helps out the local wildlife, but also by planting sturdy natives that require less care, you are helping out the environment all the way around.

Some native plants and selective non-natives are critter resistant.

Still others offer home and food for our birds, butterflies and small mammals.

Even toads need a home.

Native plants still need water, but once established, natives often require less water and minimal fertilizing.

They also are less prone to attack.

Using organic matter in gardens and beds also helps to keep water safe.

Birds and butterflies often prefer native plants for food.

Native plants often have a stronger, deeper root system to help retain soil during heavy rains.

Are you getting the idea yet?

Sure you are.

Sometimes a person needs to get a load of his chest, and I thank you for allowing me to vent some.

YES, I feel we have altered the weather some by disrupting our planet.

Parden me while I step down from my crate.

Our prayers continue to go out to all that are effected by natural and man aided disasters.

Say, summer is heating up.

Don't forget to keep your hummer feeders filled (or half filled) and clean. I know it can be easy to forget when you are busy.

However, if you want hummers...........................

You have to stay on top of things.

Butterflies are in full swing as well.

You may want to refresh yourself on a butterfly friendly yard and some butterfly flowers.

Understand how butterflies become butterflies and what to plant for the caterpillars.

It's all there.

Well, it's time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your thought of the week.

We come into this world crying while all around us are smiling. May we so live that we go out of this world smiling while everybody around us is weeping.

-- Persian proverb

Not only leave the world smiling, but live everyday with a smile.

I know some day it is hard to do, but i also know it can be done.

Be sure to wear your favorite smile this week and do share it with others.

Smiles are made to share.

Do you know someone that could use one of your smiles this week?

Until next time.

"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 recieve their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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