Butterfly Corner, May 23, 2011

Dakota Robinson's Story Board on Monarch Migrations.
Dakota Robinson's Story Board on Monarch Migrations.

May 23 – Happy Tonics participated in the “My Secret Garden” event at the Comfort Suites in Hayward hosted by the Cable and Hayward Area Arts Council. The nonprofit’s theme was butterfly gardens. One of the highlights was showing Dakota Robinson’s story board that illustrates the migration route of the monarch butterfly from Mexico to Canada. The youngster started a petition to stop roadside spraying of herbicides and insecticides during migration season. Roads and rivers are the main travel route of monarch butterflies. Herbicides kill milkweed, the host plant and insecticides kill larva and adult butterflies. Many guests attending the garden gala; were familiar with the plight of the monarch butterfly and signed the petition. Others also knew about Shell Lake’s Monarch Butterfly Habitat and plan to come this summer.

May 26 – Mary Ellen Ryall and Dylan Hasbrouck attended a Destination Marketing Organization meeting, at Wild Rivers Outfitters, in Grantsburg. Dylan will be working with Happy Tonics this summer to help maintain the habitat. He is under Fresh Start’s umbrella which is building a house in Shell Lake. Dylan will also be in training to learn Internet marketing skills at the nonprofit’s Visitors Center/Store at 25 Fifth Avenue, Shell Lake.

 In the morning, I stopped at the habitat and did a walk through to see what was starting to grow. Milkweed is emerging and averages 2” to 6” tall.

Monarch eggs on milkweed
Monarch eggs on milkweed

One colony of plants already has a monarch egg on each leaf. This is promising considering how cold and wet the spring has been so far. Remember monarchs do not fly when it is below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Monarchs return to Shell Lake about lilac time which is about now. Native June grass is already up. Prairie smoke flower is budding. Oyster plant is at the edible stage. Native shrubs and trees are flourishing and many are in flower including Juneberry, wild black cherry and chokecherry.  Earlier this spring an Experience Works member Mike Kremer applied a good dose of compost and mulch to the trees and shrubs. 

Remember to call in your first monarch butterfly sighting in Shell Lake. You will win a butterfly gift if you report the first sighting. Be sure to note day, time, your location, weather, and temperature as best as you can. Dial 715 468-2097 and leave a message if no answer. Someone will get back to you.

 Please Like Happy Tonics on Facebook. Join the conversations and track events and happenings. Visit us on the Internet and find out about summer events at www.happytonics.org and visit the Blog at www.happytonics.wordpress.com


Mother Earth Water Walkers Press Release

Press Release – For Immediate Release

Ottawa, ON (17 May 2011) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada is acknowledging with the highest esteem the Grandmothers and other supporters who are walking from the four oceans that surround North America. The leaders of the Water Walk carry copper vessels that contain the “healing and sacred salt water” from the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean, and from Hudson Bay that will be used in a ceremony where the waters converge in Bad River, Wisconsin on June 12, 2011. The water will then be united in Lake Superior where the first Water Walk began in 2003.

Water is a life force that has been respected and honoured through ceremony since time immemorial by the world’s Indigenous peoples. With this respect it is of growing concern that many Indigenous people and others around the world do not have access clean drinking water.

The women in the Water Walk, many whom are Elders have taken on a physically daunting campaign journeying over 10,400,000 steps to raise awareness about the crisis. Like many great concerns it is the women who lead and give voice to the issue.

The Anishinaabe, also known as the Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawatomi, are the caretakers of the eastern woodlands and Great Lakes, the largest freshwater system on Earth. Anishinaabe women, as givers-of-life, are responsible for speaking for, protecting and carrying our water.” (Mother Earth Water Walk, 2011)

NWAC, NGO’s and government officials are listening and will respond. You too can support the walkers! For more information see http://www.motherearthwaterwalk.com/ and follow them on Facebook.

Walking the walk: Mother Earth Water Walkers raise awareness of water

Walking the walk: Mother Earth Water Walkers raise awareness of water – MinotDailyNews.com | News, sports, business, jobs – Minot Daily News

Vulnerable White Trillium Lily

This year’s Water Four Directions Mother Earth Water Walkers is imperative as we realize we must honor water which is sacred and a gift to all living species. Please support the many who are walking and will converge at Bad River Reservation on June 12. A council guide from the Sisterhood of Planetary Water Rites plans to attend. We hope that several women from the Water Ceremony group of Minong, WI, will attend also.

The vulnerable white trillium lily of early spring grows in the sweet woods. The sounds of happy gurgling water and singing birds gladdens the heart. Sweet watercress grows in the stream where the water spills out into a pure stream. Watercress will not grow in unpure water.

We must protect our local drinking water sources. After seeing Blue Gold, I am going to ask my village where the water source is and where the sewage goes. The film suggests we do this to be informed about our own community water supply.

White Buffalo News from Grandmother Whitedeer

                                                             3 White Buffalo were recently born in OREGON!                 

                                                         We now have a herd of 14 White Bison.

 It was over the Mother’s Day weekend when the White Buffalo herd had their new babies! Their were three white buffalo calves born in Central Oregon, bringing the herd to a family of fourteen whites and three browns. We have one more expectant mother yet to give birth.

 It was a cold morning on the 7th of May, and our guys where coming over to help Charles and I do some work on the ranch. I walked over to say hi to the girls, and Miracle was immediately in my face and snorting. I looked up and Peace Pilgrim was lying on her side and moving up and down, and J. R. Spirit was born in less then a couple of minutes later. The baby was soon up, drinking and kicking. I looked at my cell phone  and it was 3:00 p.m.  J.R. Spirit was born with red with white hair around the eyes, feet, and ears. We did get a white one. I knew in a day or two we would have another bison. Once one comes, they all start coming .

 We went to bed at midnight and were up at first light on the 8th. I got dressed and let the dogs out, and decided to walk down the hill even before having my morning coffee. And there’s Sunrise Spirit having her baby. I noticed it was about 7: 00 a.m. This baby was big, huge, and pure white! My heart stopped for a second, and I thought it might be an albino. But then I saw that the face had blue eyes and knew it was not .

I called Dena to let her know. It was a very happy Mother’s Day gift even thought it was hailing and snowing. A rainbow soon loomed over the mother and babies, making them look like fire Opals. It was named Opal Sunrise Spirit. Check out the enclosed picture.

 I drove Charles to the airport  around 11:00 a.m., and on the way back there were more rainbows around the ranch. Outside of the ranch it was snowing, and as I walked around the pen this second white baby was trying to eat and drink, and its mother just looked at me as if to say, “Kids will be kids.” 

  The next day was the 9th, and just before dusk at 7:00 p.m. I was taking some apples and pears down to feed to the girls . Miracle Moon, who is the lead mother of  the herd, was have her baby. I thought that it might be a long night, and it was. Miracle was doing everything that she could to keep her baby awake, while being watched over by a waxing quarter moon and a very cold night.  

 Even though we knew that miracles had already happened, we thought we needed a plan to be on the safe side in case the mother couldn’t get her milk to her newborn. I had  a bottle waiting to be mixed in case we needed it. I decided to take my car and sleep down by the pens, as there were recent coyote and cougar tracks in the area.

  The 3rd calf named Silver Spirit brings another wild story in the night. But what else would you expect with white bison?  I prayed all night to I any helpers I could  think of. I prayed to White Buffalo Calf Woman, Christ, my dad, Jim Riley, angels, any sensible E.T.’s who might be in the neighborhood, and even my wolf Buddy.  

 I was afraid the baby was not going to suck after about 8 hours . I looked up at the moon. I was tired and tears started flowing down my cheeks, and a silver light passed down from the moon and flew through the night sky and into the area where the babies were and disappeared.

  Now I have been a cow girl, and I have been watching the night sky for over 35 years. I have seen falling stars, meteors, and even satellites and planes. But I have never seen a silver light. It looked like a large silver dinner plate and it moved slowly, then faster, with no sounds or tail lights, and then it was gone. I looked at the mother and the new baby and they were ok. The baby got up and walked around. Later in the morning I saw it drink.  

  The new families seemed to be doing great. They were eating well, and the calves were beginning to nose around and greet one another. And now we are still waiting for Big Mama to have hers.

     The winter has finally shown signs of spring. The big boys are beginning to show their strength to each other. The grasses are coming in, and life begins anew for our growing white buffalo family. It’s a good day on the White Buffalo ranch.

    If you would like to support these white bison, please make a donation. You can also buy one of our Hiawatha Big Medicine blankets. We only have a limited supply of our blankets left. They were made using the 2010 shed from these buffalo. Please call us at: 541 323 1885,

or go to the web site at: www.sacredworldpeacealliance.com

Blessings and thank you, Cynthia, Charley and Grandmother Whitedeer

Wild Edibles Club First Excursion

The weather in northwest Wisconsin is below average and I am still heating my home in Minong. It is a wet and rainy season this spring and impossible to start a garden under these circumstances.

Debora with gathered leek greens.

 My friend Debora and I went out to the Washburn County forest at 5 p.m. last evening to a favorite haunt  between Hayward and Minong in search of leeks also known as ramps. There were large colonies of leeks and yellow trout lily. The lily bulbs were quite small and we decided not to gather them outside of a few that came along with the leeks when we dug in the deep, composted and compacted forest soil. I tried a few yellow trout lily bulbs and they tasted like raw potatoes.

Yellow trout lily

 I never saw as many trout lilies in my life.

Yellow trout lily in bud

 This was certainly a bountiful colony stretching across the forest floor in the near and far away woods.

closeup of leek plants
closeup of leek plants

The leeks are difficult to dig when growing in large clumps among other woodland plants. One needs to separate them out after digging. Leek leaves and bulb are both edible. Yellow trout lily on the other hand only provides an edible bulb. The fun is in the gathering.

Cleaning leek bulbs for freezing
Cleaning leek bulbs for freezing

I have learned over the years that it takes three times the work to clean, sort, cut roots and save leaves after gathering. 

Drying leek leaves
Drying leek leaves

Leek leaves need to be dried by using paper towels and placing single leaves in a tray, separated by layers of paper towel sheets between each row of leaves. Place the leaves  in the freezer for a few minutes to start the freezing process.

Then remove the trays from the freezer and transfer leek leaves with paper sheets intact to a ziplock freezer bag. Be sure to mark the bag in order to identify what you have preserved. Believe me, after a while, most foods will look the same after they have been in the freezer for any period of time.

Debora noticed something else in the woods and went to explore what it was.  She discovered emerging what we thought were ostrich ferns. 

Cinnemon or interrupted fern
Cinnemon or interrupted fern

  It was only later I learned that the fern was cinnamon (Osmunda cinnemomea) or interrupted fern (O. claytonia). I have gathered fiddlehead ferns before and I enjoy bracken fern as fiddleheads. Now I know why I prefer them.

For one the ferns left a stain on the plastic bag we were using. I should have been alerted then that something was wrong. Then I tried to eat one that I blanched and it tasted terrible. Even an experienced gatherer like myself can get confused. Always research before gathering. We should have carried the Forager’s Harvest or Nature’s Garden by Samuel Thayer to the gathering site and verified the species before picking. I had left the books in the van. Live and learn!

Fiddlehead ferns of cinnamon and interrupted fern have a hairy covering and simply are  not worth taking a risk. Don’t ever use either one. Seek true ostrich or bracken ferns for wild edibles. They are delicious and you will be well pleased.

Another group of wild edible gatherers are going to another forest where Happy Tonics has a wild butterfly habitat with land use for the habitat from the DNR. I know we have bracken fern out there in the clearing and I hope the ferns are ready to gather on Monday. I will let you know next week how this turns out.

Be happy insectamonarca friends where ever you are.

Bird blown on the winds of time

Today in Minong, Wisconsin, USA, the winds blew approximately 40 mph. It was enough to snatch a baby bird from its nest and hurl the small bird down in my back yard. From where the bird was carried is a mystery. I saw the baby bird on the lawn from my window and went out to investigate. The fledgling got scared and tried to fly. The bird could only make minute flights close to the ground. I kept my eye on the bird throughout the day.

Early this afternoon I went out and saw that the baby was not moving. The bird opened and blinked its eyes and I knew that it lived; however, I also knew that it could not fly now. Perhaps it suffered some internal injury. I sang the baby bird an honor song. Then I found a live worm and carried it to the bird on a straw strand. I thought the bird might be hungry and thirsty. At this point I also brought a small lid filled with water to tempt the bird.

baby bird
Farewell baby bird

  By 4 p.m. the baby bird had died. I bent down and kissed its tiny head the color of fall leaves. It felt warm. The body was black with tinges of blue and green.  The color could only be seen from a close position.  The bird with closed eyes blew over and I noticed one foot curled and the other straight. I dug a hole and gently placed the small bird in along with sacred tobacco that was used in earlier morning ceremony prayers.

I thought about the mother. She would never know what happened to her baby bird and my heart wept.