Never a Dull Moment in the Valley...

Submitted by Art and Barb Straub

A discouraging headline and media piece greeted readers in late July, news generated from the Associated Press and other news outlets stating: “Beloved monarch butterflies now listed as endangered!” Most of our readers have been aware of this fact for some time, due to their own personal observations. In our case, should we observe one monarch per day as we go about our lives, one is a lot; wherein they graced gardens and ditches abundantly for so many years. Their presence was usually made known by May 10th, each year, but for a variety of reasons, they appeared much later in 2022. We’ve taken the beautiful insect for granted.

Various environmental groups have been working separately from one another as to repopulating the large orange/black beauties and other pollinators, but now they’ve come together under one organization with unified parts, Monarch Joint Venture, (MJV.) The group was initiated in 2008, but has transitioned from a “10-year history associated with the University of Minnesota to become a standalone non-profit in 2019.” To quote MJV goals, “We support monarch and pollinator conservation planning and implementation efforts by facilitating information sharing, partnership building, and carrying out identified conservation priorities with the plan which consists of 100 partners… MJV partners are organized to protect monarch butterfly migration across the United States.”

The last week in June, at the local level, information-gatherers appeared in Sibley-LeSueur county prairies to assess milkweed populations using, of all things, DRONES! What could take hours of tedious walking and checking was accomplished in mere minutes. Modern technology to the rescue! When the milkweed pods ripen, that is, pods are about ready to burst open, local ‘pickers’ will release the pods from milkweed stems, dry them thoroughly, and send them to a central location. There, the seeds will be removed and eventually be donated free to the populace in an effort to repopulate milkweeds. To receive more information as to how MJV works, contact or Barb/art at 507.665.2658.

We need some GOOD news for a change!
The rainfall, spotty as it was, brought smiles to many a local gardener/agriculturist faces. Those who have been bringing plants along using earth water were actually gleeful. But a sad story from the past ended in joy at the farm of friend Vern Bienfang around August 1st. Vern raises all manner of precious fowl and critters on his manicured acres. Electrical shortages due to storms these past years caused incubating chicks, peacocks, turkeys, etc., quick deaths, while raccoons, strangers from the skies and coyotes found their way past high fences and faithful guard dog Spice a time or two. One may remember how, not so long ago, the unanticipated arrival of twin goats with the death of a little one caused some consternation among the animal brethren. The survivor, Rocky, (who got off to a rocky start,) grew into a handsome cocky young goat, and with the addition of the farm of a number of nannies, became the proud father of twins this week. Little show-offs are what they are, but cute as kittens! Thus, that story has a happy ending.

In the meantime, across the valley at the Coachlight Ponds, Sylvia and Sylvan, guardians and parents extraordinaire, continue to rear six of the seven cygnets which hatched in May. The cygnets are at the juvenile stage, dirty and unkempt in the muddy waters, currently testing their flight feathers.

Missing in action however, have been two usual inhabitants of the former LS treatment facility waters and Coachlight Pond. Yes, the cormorants dropped down August 4th, yet there has been no sign of the white egrets nor great blue herons.

Little did one guess that more sandhill cranes than the aforementioned giant birds would occupy natural niches in the area. Bruce Bjork, area wildlife photographer, traveled to the Shakopee area this week to obtain wonderful photos of the egrets. We believe the phenomenon of missing birds is a matter of lacking basic food, that is, frogs, water beetles and grasshoppers among others. Of course, climate change should enter into this conversation. Evidently the shallow ponds and marshes in the Twin City areas are a basic food source. Your guess, readers, is as good as ours, more in that regard in the future.
Last edited by Jeff Steinborn; 08/11/22 04:38 AM.