One Often Meets Friends in Unexpected Places

Submitted by Art and Barb Straub

After the precipitation of June 2nd and 3rd, Swanee the swanky silver Ford was aghast at the indescribable damage done to sloping agricultural fields. Soil erosions are the key words here. Many if not most areas had been planted, with the promise of bounteous corn/bean yields in the offing, yet torrents tore myriad gaps in fields and left crops at the top of slopes deposited into nearby ravines, creeks, and eventually flowed into the well-named “Muddy Minnesota River.” No serene body of water, creeks, waterways, after the storm! In 2023, this same week, one found turkey hens with as many as twelve poults marching along behind, snatching a bug here, crunching a beetle there. Swanee found a single hen with a soaked poult in her wake as she traveled forty miles cross country, June 3rd, 2024… we assume the intense precipitation must have taken a toll on nests, poults and turkey eggs.

Canada geese adults and juveniles fared well in numbers in 2024, as having hatched in March, the birds whose nests failed, mateless adults (mortality casualties) and unmated adults may make the flight to large lakes to the north. While there, they will divest themselves of their old battered feathers, grow new ones, and fatten up for the autumn flight south. In that we’ve never followed those early June migrating geese, we can only go on hearsay. Yes, some stay all summer on area golf courses or private property with access to water, but others ‘make the trip north.’ When a goose molts, access by fox, coyotes and other predators makes for luscious lunches.

Yet, back to ‘meeting friends in unexpected places.’ While checking out the results of the copious precipitation of June 1/2, Swanee stopped on the bridge over the crackling rushing creek at the base of the Ney Nature Center property, East Henderson Station Road. Three small milkweed plants grew at the end of the bridge, and, just for kicks, we checked them out for monarch butterfly eggs. Lo and behold! We chanced upon the tiniest monarch larva we ever did see on one of plants. As the verdure was growing where road grading implement would destroy it, we removed the tiny ‘soon to be pupa’ and took it to Swan Street in Leuer, placing it upon a similar-sized milkweed stem where it could continue the developmental process. Recall: egg, larva, (wee caterpillar,) pupa(resting/developing chrysalis stage and finally, wondrous adult. What will the result be? Good question. We won’t know until and unless we try, will we?

By Indy publication date, the brilliant white flowers (photo) of the black locust bushes will have fallen. On the Pumpkin Hill Road (and many other forested places) these trees/bushes grow unnoticed and hence, unappreciated. But locust wood/lumber is more durable than OAK! Wish a good read? Peruse black locust Google information…fascinating! If you go near, watch out for the prickly thorns on the plant, as they easily puncture people’s hides. Also, and incidentally, the leaves and seeds are poisonous; however, the bushes/trees we visited were virtually covered with pollinators. Often, one must take the good with the bad, as tinctures from the locust are great for healing wounds, especially those caused by a burn.
Due to the mosquito/gnat invasion, the world has turned upside down for many forest animals. Consider. Doe white-tailed deer taking their fawns to the center of fields in broad daylight for a measure of relief. Or the doe of 06/03 lying IN a pond to escape the blood-sucking monsters. Do you have a storm/animal story? Pass it on to artstraub@gmail.com.
Summer has yet to arrive, but bugs, growth,
beauty and continued resurrection will have their way.