Tag Archives: animals

Milkweeds, Snowballs and Wishes

400px-Milkweed-in-seed2

I have been trying to grow milkweeds on my property for the past fourteen years. I have some milkweeds with whitish flowers, and some with pink flowers.

When I first moved here, the Milkweeds were small and very few, they were about ten inches high and scrawny. A neighbor, in Chicago, had credited me with the first monarch butterflies he had seen in years. So I pulled out my squirreled away milkweed seeds, saved from my Chicago plants. They were tall ones, three to maybe five feet tall.

I wanted to bring that out here. This is the country; it should have been easy to grow wildflowers, right?  Well, not really. When the farmers spray the fields in the spring I lost the majority of the milkweeds. A few survived growing next to some trees or protected by tall grass. Each year they made the attempt to grow taller and stronger. Until finally had a patch in the front, near the drainage pond. Last year, that area flooded and the milkweeds sat in deep water for over a month and everything turned black and molded.

This year I had a small patch closer to the driveway. I watched it all summer. The plants grew between three and five feet tall. Even when they started to die down, the stalks stood straight and held onto the seed pods.

I was expecting to grab a couple of seed pods, like I do every year, and save them in the garage until spring. Two days ago, the seeds burst out of their pods, in a puff of pure white, sparkly, silky blur. The small flat brown seeds were connected like tiny parachutes waiting for the winds to catch them. For a moment, serenely, they held on to their pods, narcissistically I assumed they were waiting for me to notice them.

I did a double take when I walked out to get the mail.  Surrounded by a variety of browns and dried dark greens, and sitting on those splotchy dried stalks the  pods had burst into view. At first glance, I thought I was looking at snow perched on the end of a branch.   

I have to admit, second and third glances they still looked like snowballs.

 I waded through the dried grass to get a closer look. At that moment, a slight breeze made a wish and the seeds drifted around and above me, the seeds littered the grass, and wafting along on each breeze.

My first thought, “The Monarchs will love this.” Then I remembered that sometimes the farmers use Bt insecticides their crops, not very beneficial to Monarchs. 

We live in a world of chemicals, electromagnetic radiation; poison rain,… the list can be endless. All this makes me wonder how one person, not pouring chemicals into the land can help?  Help will come when we start to love the so called, weeds again and stop being afraid. Fear is a reaction to things we don’t understand.

I wonder if I make a wish with one of these seed pods, like a child when holding up dandelion that has gone to seed and wish for ,…What would you wish for?

 

 

This site has a description of what, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn pollen is;

“Colorado State University”

http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/crops/00707.html

Here is some information from the, University of Illinois Extension, Illinois Pesticide Review;

http://web.extension.uiuc.edu/ipr/i4188_829.html

“Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a bacteria that occurs naturally in the soil. It produces an endotoxin crystal that attacks the gut membrane and creates pores, which cause leakage and swelling. The swelling continues until cells burst, which allows the gut contents to leak into the insect’s blood, disrupting the blood pH and resulting in paralysis and death within 24 to 72 hours. In Bt corn, the genes in the bacteria that code for the production of this endotoxin crystal are inserted through genetic engineering into the corn plant. The resulting corn plants produce the endotoxin crystal, causing the death of caterpillars that feed on them. This toxin is produced in many locations of the corn plant, including the pollen.”

Picture of Milkweed-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Milkweed-in-seed2.jpg

Rain Of Leaves~

leaves gold2

I walked with silent contemplation. Not a fast paced march against heavy winds. Nor an irritation amid waving flags, aimed against storming mosquitoes, just a simple quiet stroll.
I stretched upward, taking in a deep breath of cool air and watched the tops of the birch trees; their coin shaped leaves had changed from a soft green, to golden green, into brown coins that littered the ground. The sun was hitting the top branches along with the gentle wind, which brought about a subtle clapping in the tree tops. I wondered are they applauding the setting sun, or sending thanks for the passing of a beautifully calm day?  Either way the view was astounding.
A couple of stray bugs decided to interrupt my contemplation and buzzed around my head. Where did they hide when the tempeture dropped?   Inside the house the widows were crawling with Japanese beetles. Outside I can’t find one.
 As I walked off the path, and headed towards the apple trees I noticed the calmness of the corn field next door. The farmer still hasn’t cut that corn down. I can hear the humming of the large faming equipment. The field across the road was getting harvested.
The corn field next door, rustled. A slight breeze moved between the dried beige rows.  I wasn’t worried a deer would come crashing through. In hind sight- I should be.  I have seen a deer appear from the middle of a corn field in the middle of a bright warm day.  I stopped and listened. I couldn’t hear anything crashing through those tightly packed stalks of corn.
The birds were quiet.  They must be settled in for the night. I wondered if they sleep in the same place, night after night?
Uriah ran up to me, his tongue hanging heavy and a look of complete happiness on his face.  He was checking up on me, once he knew I wasn’t going for a second walk on the path he trotted under the apple tree to chase the chipmunks.
 

Curiosity can always get to me, and today is not an exception

Curiosity can always get to me, and today is not an exception.

corn 

The farmers haven’t cut down the feeder corn,yet and I find it so mysterious, scary and beautiful all at the same time. When I get enamored by a thought I will end up acting on my curiosity, which is how I ended up wandering around my fallen, barbed wire fence, and standing in the sinking mud to get a, “good look” at the corn field. 

 There are other plants that grow along the edges of a corn field; Milkweeds, Queens Anne’s Lace and a multitude of weeds that as you step past them will deposit burs in your clothing, hair and along your ankles connecting to your socks and shoes making it a treat to remove.

None of that mattered.

  I wanted stand next to the towering rows of corn.

Golden, browns and beiges streaked with green and yellows stood in formation. The large ears of corn still connected to the stalks. Some of the corn had deep orangey, yellow kernels peeking out. This is not the type of corn that if you squeeze a kernel with your nail it will pop a milky sweet juice.   These kernels are hard. They may end up as Ethanol, livestock feed, a starch, sweetener or for use in fermentation.  

 I could see where a passing deer, or a hungry raccoon, possum, or Badger ripped off some ears and carried them onto my property and under a bush to feast. A few kernels were on the ground. I knew from years of walking around here, that tomorrow morning if I were to check they would be gone, eaten.

 Pulling my feet from the mud, with a distinct gooey sound I stepped next to the first row of corn stalks, and looked up, at their waving tops. I tried to focus on the rows deeper into the field. They were so thick I could only see two ahead of me, and then they blended together like a wallpaper field, or a movie set with either zombies, or dreams being chased way.

“Hey Uriah can you chase away a Zombie?” I laughed as Uriah looked around nervously. “I guess not.” I signed as he seemed to take offense by ducking his head and starring at the ground. 

The bitter smell of brown wet leaves, moved around me. Then drifting past as the wind picked up, racing the rain clouds into another county, allowing the sun to spread across my face.  The sky brightened with white puffy clouds and a deep blue sky.

This is the moment I relish! The tops of this corn field wave around me as I stood quietly. Here in my old, mud covered gyms shoes, with wet socks while something crawls down my back.  I am happy.

Corn moves my car…and then

My attitude

Sweetens my dinner… and

My desserts

Then eases through my digestive track

To return

Looking as if it never left

 

 

 

“Illinois Corn”

http://www.ilcorn.org/uploads/documents/uploader/184It%20Begins%20with%20a%20Kernel.pdf

National Corn Growers Association” 

http://lepton.marz.com/ncga/comm_dev_center/index_PG.asp

“Kane County Farm Bureau”

http://www.kanecfb.com/links.html