January Sets Off With An Icy Frigid Start

Submitted by Art & Barb Straub

She sits gazing forlornly from out the second story window in a corner of the Nature Center at the Henderson Community Building. Her days of flight ended abruptly December 29th two years ago. Regular readers will recall the Trumpeter Swan discovered by Joe Luskey (Judy) near utility wires in the Green Isle area a few years back. The adult swan was taxidermed, then mounted in Nicollet by the Dale Selby Taxidermy studio. It is now on display at the NEY Center where visitors are greeted by the mount on the west wall of that educational facility.

On December 29, 2019, a second trumpeter met its end at the north end of Henderson, just a block into town. For a week, citizens passing a cornfield a mile north on County Highway #6 had reported a dozen or so swans grazing on a harvested cornfield. Then, a concerned call came from Mark and Amy Hardel’s family that “A swan just struck the electrical lines near our home and is lying dead on north Seventh Street.” What to do? It costs mucho dinaro to have a swan mounted, but this cadaver was in mint condition, thus cost versus educational purposes for many, especially children? Taking a chance that the dollars could be raised, all proper licensing procedures were taken, and by January 2nd, 2020, the handsome juvenile bird was in the artistic hands of Dale Selby and his associates in Nicollet. In the following issue of the Henderson Independent, we asked for assistance with the cost of mounting the treasure, and within 24 hours, the Jerry Buesgen’s family, Danielle, Gracie, Claire and Clay, contributed a very generous amount to the project, assuring that half the prohibitive cost was covered. For this we are grateful to Jerry and family. They’ve helped bring about an historic specimen for the public.

The deceased bird flew out of Henderson to Nicollet, thence to Missouri to a swan mounting specialist. If you’ve ever dismantled a goose or a duck, you know that waterfowl have many many ‘pin feathers.’ Putting that bird’s body back in order was tougher than a difficult jigsaw puzzle! The project was halted for a while due to a fire, but after months of anxious waiting, the bird flew back home and eventually to the nature corner of JR Brown Center. Then, COVID arrived with its nasty bugaboos! The bird in its beauty is ready for viewing by the public, but then, reasonable readers know the recommendations to be taken. In other words, the bird is ready for the public, the public isn’t ready for the bird. Thus, it gazes longingly out J R B’s window, waiting for better days ahead.

Other additions anxiously awaiting the public’s admiration at J R B include a fresh armadillo cadaver; a number of unusual bird specimens; a beautiful bear skull showing its gleaming white teeth, (the better to chew on you, my dear;) plus an albino raccoon which doesn’t wish to wait until Valentine’s Day to show off its pink eyes. Besides these items of interest, a heavy chunk of unidentified tusk unearthed from deep in the depths of an ancient gravel pit near Henderson will grab the attention of viewers. Sincere thanks to our continued donors of shared mysteries.

Late December’s gift of ice surely wasn’t as welcome as frosting on a cake. Great care had to be taken to retain one’s balance. Ask anyone who has “gone done.’ Our immediate concern (after care about people of course) was the near impenetrable ice shield that formed in the woods, cutting off food supplies to one and all little critters; however, our heroes/heroines have turned out to be…wild turkeys. It works like this. Turkeys forage for energy from the earth, especially acorns, all autumn. They are equipped with formidable feet, having tough ankles for trudging through the snow plus spurs on backs of legs, and reddish hocks, hanks, and those wicked toes; all made to order for slicing through frozen elements. This opens the ice crust, exposing seeds and delicacies from under the snow. Large flocks of juncos, varieties of sparrows, cardinals, blue-jays, etc. become the beneficiaries of these generous offerings. Deer, with their sharp hooves, don’t have to work quite so hard obtaining meager foodstuffs to add to their diet of grasses, brush and slender saplings. From this point onward, should January continue in its Arctic bent, it’s every critter for itself! All await the famous ‘January Thaw.’ One can’t ‘wish away’ the weather we anticipate in future months.