Saturday, September 14, 2013

Whooping Crane Class of 2013 Are Growing Up

We have had an exciting few days, at least for us.  For those who don't know, I love the Whooping Cranes.  I have written about them twice before.  and

This past week we attended a talk given by Joe Duff, one of the co-founders of Operation Migration and a pilot of the ultralight planes that guide the Whooping Crane migration.  He was a wonderful speaker.  He was one of those speakers who is so relaxed and tells his story without a script.  He acts like he is speaking to each person individually.  We learned so much that night about how the program got started, about the birds themselves, the  raising of the chicks and the migration process.   The birds never see or hear a human.  The handlers are always in costume when they are near the cranes and that includes when they fly the plane. He told that even when they mow the runway, they take the birds out into the marsh so they won't hear the sound.  As I was sitting there listening, the lady across the table asked me if I had been to her house because I looked familiar.  I guess all gray haired ladies look alike.  Just go to a casino, and you will see that is true.  Anyway, she told me that her house is on the corner of the viewing spot.  Everyday people gather to watch the training flights. The very next morning we went out there.  That day, the flight was called off because of the weather.   All we saw at first was this.  I was sure it was ET coming back for a visit.  Remember, ET Phone Home.

ET Phone Home

Then we saw the trike but no birds.  He flew over to give us the no go sign.
Notice the pilot is in his white crane costume.

We sadly went home.  Fortunately we live less than five minutes from the site.  The next morning bright and early we went out again.  This time there were quite a few people there.  Many of them were from other states.  We saw people from Arizona, Delaware and Georgia.  I believe they were in the area for the Whooping Crane Festival.  This time the weather was great, and we saw what we had wanted to see for a long time.  Who knew this was going on so close to our house.  We will be returning again until they take off for the last time and start the migration process.

First we saw them just over the trees.

Then they got closer.

And closer.

Soon they were right overhead.  Notice there are two ultralights.  The second one picks up any birds that fall behind.

Last year one of the migrating cranes died.  It was injured on one of the landings.  She was rushed to the hospital but died on the table.  In memory of this bird, someone put this little memorial under a tree at the viewing spot.  It says #1012 meaning the 10th chick from 2012.  They named her Ruthie Louisie.
Memorial to whooping crane #1012

We also found out that we could make an appointment to go out to the pen area deep in the White River Marsh.  They have a "crane blind" set up to view the cranes on the ground.  We are going to do that, and if I get some good photos, I will show them.

It just so happened that this weekend the Berlin Wisconsin Conservation Club hosted the Whooping Crane Festival.  We went last year but wanted to go again.

They had activities, a silent auction and some speakers.  We were able to see the ultralight close up.  I can't imagine flying in that flying machine all the way to Florida.  Think how cold it must get in the open air.

We listened to a speaker from the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology.  He also is one of the costumed handlers who go out in the pens early in the morning to feed the birds.  We live so close to the marsh and drive through it often, we wanted to hear him speak about other birds that live in the marsh. 

This spring I posted a photo of one of the first Sandhill cranes to return to our area.  There was still snow on the ground.  He was gray in color with a few light tan feathers.

I couldn't figure out why later in the spring the Sandhill's turn a different color.  The speaker said that they paint themselves by preening themselves with the soil of the area.  I never knew that.  It is for camouflage or maybe to look beautiful for the courting dance.

It is a little hard to see, but the sandhill cranes are a dark rusty color.

I know the team of Operation Migrations won't see this blog, but I hope they know how happy they make many people.  Their dedication to the Whooping Crane is amazing.  I don't know for sure, but it seems that they live in trailers in a camp area near the marsh all summer, and then travel with all the equipment from stop to stop along the migration route.  Sometimes they have long layovers until the weather cooperates, and they can continue on.  It's an all day long and 7 day a week tiring job.  I think they are seeing progress, but it is slow.  It's a necessary program because there are still not enough breeding pairs in the wild.  A crane cannot reproduce until they are five years old and then they only lay one or two eggs.  If the egg is hatched, they don't all survive.  It's wonderful that these people work year after year to help increase the crane population.

Friday, September 13, 2013

We Aren't Really Crazy, It Just Seems That Way

If you thought I was crazy with drying my used coffee filters and shredding them,
then you should meet my husband.  He is always making little carts to carry things or creating ways to make everyday chores more efficient.  Some times his time and energy saving techniques actually take more time, but the finished job is done well.

I just went out to the garage because I heard some sawing and pounding. He is making a cart for his wood splitter so he can wheel it out whenever he needs it, and it brings the splitter up higher so he doesn't have to bend over so far to split the logs.  It saves his back.   He recycled a handle from an old air compressor, the lumber from things he has dismantled and some other parts we had.

Notice he can't do anything without listening to his books.

The finished product.

His next project is building a device to store the trolling motor and battery for the canoe.  He has some wheels and brackets from an old lawn mower.  We will see later what that looks like.

Then recently I went downstairs to throw some clothes into the washer.  I noticed a little box on top of the dryer.  Guess what was in there?  You won't guess, it was empty toilet paper tubes stuffed with dryer lint.  He read that these make great fire starters for the fireplace.  The problem is that we don't get that much dryer lint.  I think our clothes are so old they don't produce much lint anymore. It will take months to get enough to make a couple fire starters.

Toilet paper tube filled with dryer lint.

So in order to get more, we took this one step further.  I have way more shredded paper than my worms need so this is what we did.  We filled empty toilet paper tubes with the shredded coffee filters and junk mail.  It works really well.  Some people may think we are crazy, but I choose to think we are being inventive.

Toilet paper tube filled with shredded coffee filters and mail.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

I Found a Little Baby Snapping Turtle

A few days ago in one of my updates, I mentioned not seeing any baby turtles this year.  Then on Tuesday, as we were turning onto the main highway near our house, I saw a little baby snapping turtle on the side of the road.  I had my husband go around the block and park.  I ran over and picked him up.  In the short time it took us to go back, he was trying to cross a main highway.  Between the traffic and the very hot weather we were having that day, I don't think his chances were very good.  We went back home, and I watered him down.  I headed him down the hill to the marsh.  I hope he makes it, but I have no way of knowing.  His chances are better now and at least I tried.

See how little he is.

Hopefully he is heading in the right direction now.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Highground Veterans Memorial-Neillsville, Wisconsin

Today is 9/11, and we are remembering all the people who lost their lives in our nations' tragedy.  We can all remember the moment we heard that planes hit the World Trade Center in New York.  At first I thought it was an accidental plane crash.  Soon we learned that it was an act of terrorism.  The aftermath and the recovery process brought this country together for a while.  If it wasn't for the first responders, firefighters and the police, we would have had many more lives lost.  It is wonderful that communities all over the country are having remembrance celebrations today.

Many people are remembering this day and where they were and how it effected them, but one post that caught my eye came from one of my facebook friends.  This is what she wrote:
As I reflect today I realize how much that day changed our life.  As a service wife, it brought a host of never ending deployments for the last half of my husband's Army career, which brought fear, stress, anger, loneliness, and a dust storm of other issues to deal with while he was away.  I hate what they did to our country that day, And all the things still going on because of that day!!
Because of Michelle's post, I decided to post some photos I took while visiting the Highground Veterans Memorial outside of Neillsville Wisconsin.  If you have never visited, it would be worth your time. They have a lot of events throughout the year that are listed on their website.

The sign you see as you enter this beautiful memorial.

An exact replica of the Liberty Bell in PA.

"Let Freedom Ring"

Native American Vietnam Memorial

Korean Tribute honors those from "The Forgotten War"

The Fountain of Tears
At the bottom sits a grieving wife and child with dog tags in her lap.

Ascension of Doves

The WWII Globe.  One side features the European theater and the other side the Pacific theater. 

The stained glass areas duplicate the campaign ribbons for that area of service.  The other side tells the story of "Kilroy Was Here".

Wisconsin Vietnam Veterans Tribute titled "Fragments".
This Saturday, September 14, 2013, they will be commemorating the 25th
anniversary of this tribute.  The celebration will begin at 2:00.

If you look carefully you can see the shape of a dove.
It contains some dirt taken from all 72 counties in Wisconsin
plus many other locations throughout the United States.
Effigy Mound pays tribute to POW's and MIA's

The Gold Star to honor families who supported their loved ones who
came home and those who never came home.

       Women Airforce  Service Pilots
                    from World War II

Honoring all Wisconsin women who have served our nation.

A new memorial is being constructed.  It will be a tribute to Wisconsin Persian Gulf veterans.  It will be in the shape of a boot print.  It will be exciting to come back to see it finished.

While we were finishing up a F-16 flew over.  I think it was a training exercise but the timing was perfect and gave me goose bumps. 

We also got information to buy my dad a Legacy Stone.  A legacy stone is a granite brick that is engraved with his name and any other information we choose.  It also includes information in a legacy book which is kept inside the main building.  The stone will be place in the walkway along with many others.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Plum Jam or Plum Jelly

I haven't been posting a Tuesday recipe much lately because we are being so overwhelmed on Facebook with new recipes.  Most of them look good, but I don't need to add to the list unless I find something exceptional.

This is sort of a guest post.   The photos are my daughters.  She has two plum trees.  They are little trees but produce an unbelievable number of plums.  They are growing near their sidewalk, so even with people helping themselves, there are plenty to eat.  The funny part is that one tree ripens before the other.

These are the plums on one side of the driveway.  They are still green.

These on the other side of the driveway are ripe.

A bowl of freshly picked plums.

Plums cut in half and the seed has been removed.

Now is time to decide to make Plum Jelly or Plum Jam.  For the Plum Jelly they use a handy little gadget I bought them several years ago.  It is called a steamer/juicer.  Just google it or Amazon has it at this link.  You can read about it.  They use it for anything they want juiced or steamed.  They use it for tomatoes, pumpkins, squash, various berries, grapes and in this case plum juice.  Just put the fruit into the steamer pan, and the juice comes out the tube.  How easy is that?

 Plum Jelly

4 cups plum juice
1 box pectin
6 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water

Stir the pectin into the juice and make sure it's dissolved.
Add the water and bring the juice and water to a boil,  add sugar and boil an additional minute, place in jars...

My son in law actually makes the jams and jellies in their family.  It's hard to pin him down to an exact recipe.  For the jam he just said he ground up the plums, added sugar and cooked the jam.  I think you should look up an exact recipe.  I'm sure all the recipe sites have a good one.  Maybe you should double check the jelly recipe as well.

Beautiful looking Plum Jelly