Flute of the forest comes calling

Recently, there was a very shy bird that came calling one morning when I was doing a meditation walk down the hilly driveway. Standing in a level spot and practicing Tia chi , I heard the bird’s thrilling voice. Besides the loon and robin, this bird is my absolute favorite, even though I had never seen my winged friend. Later in the day, my sister Ronnie and I drove to various farms and private home settings, near her estate Winter Hill Farm, Fitchburg, MA. We went  food shopping.  It was surprising to learn that many country folks are raising free range chickens, either on their private property or  small farms. What a great way to go shopping, two sisters driving down dirt and country roads in search of sustenance.

One such farm had a stand. Near the stand were two darling and different species of rabbits in a hutch. I fell in love. Recyclable rabbit poo for organic gardening, a gardener’s delight. We continued our wandering and traveled to Winchendron ,to visit another farmers stand. The little outdoor three walled shelter had the most beautiful display of fresh garden flowers, vegetables, and fruit. I called Livvy Tarleton, owner, the next day and asked about the basil I bought. No, Sunset View Farm does not use any pesticides. I wish you could have seen the beautiful sunny gardens in the background. The neighbors are on vacation. My sister has permission to pick from their garden while the family are away. Ronnie mentioned that Phil has basil; I may be able to make more pesto next week. I can hardly wait; I could live on it. Mornings I take a medicinal walk through the gardens in front of the house.

The 1820’s colonial house has an original stone walkway and door wide aged brick stoop with steps. The front gardens have extensive phlox, lobelia, fragrant lily, wild bergamot and other plants growing along the pathway. A hummingbird came to visit the bergomot; two small rust colored spynx moths nectared on colorful phlox. That evening, while looking out the side porch windows,  I noticed the moon, nearly full. I just had to walk outside and be with her. It was a perfect still night and I bathed in the moonlight. This opportunity only comes a few times in the year and this was one of these special nights.

Be happy insectamonarca friends where ever you are.

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Butterfly Corner

Ryall, M.E., 06 June 2012. Washburn County Register, Butterfly Corner.

False indigo is in in first book after planting three years ago

False indigo is in in first book after planting three years ago

Saturdays at the Habitat:  8 a.m. – 10 a.m. The first and second Saturday Habitat Yard Sale for the butterflies took place. Folks came by to tell us how lovely the Monarch Butterfly Habitat looks. Others came on bike or by car and bought a few things. Saturdays are fun at the habitat. We planted a few violets for the fritillary butterfly. A Three Sisters Garden was planted, just before it rained. Weeds were pulled, wet newspaper put down, and topsoil added that Steve Degner delivered. We added aged sheep manure and a package of potting soil. This planting style is known as the lasagna method. The idea is to not dig into the soil, but add to it. We planted birdhouse gourd seed and hope they will grow among squash, heirloom beans, and Pungo Creek butcher corn, a variety of rainbow red, brown, yellow, and sometimes purple ears.  For 165 years, the corn has been grown by farmers of Pungo Creek, Virginia.

May 25: The once rare brown Argus butterfly of southern England has found a new food source according to Butterfly Conservation, a science and advocacy group in the United Kingdom. The butterfly was located in southern England within a small area with a less common host rock-rose plant. Now the butterfly has migrated north due to climate change. A cooler environment was critical for its survival. To scientists’ surprise, the butterfly caterpillar is eating geraniums, which are abundant.  “The change in diet represents a change to the interactions between species – in this case between a butterfly and the plants that its caterpillars eat – caused by climate warming.”  This is the first case of a butterfly that can survive with a change in host plant, due to climate change. More science research and documentation will be ongoing to track butterfly species adaption to climate change. Terry Root, Stanford University, states that for every winner, there will be three loser species. Source: Butterfly Conservation Organization.

Wet bumblebee after a storm copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

Wet bumblebee after a storm copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

May 28 – June 1: It was a virtual butterfly and bumblebee feast at the property in Minong. I saw a fritillary, American copper, red Admiral and many monarch butterflies. The fritillary deposited eggs on tiny violet leaves. The monarch deposited eggs on milkweed.  Yesterday it was the bumblebees. I counted 18 large bumblebees on chive flowers. Some were sleeping while others drank nectar from flowers. Two species of bumblebees were noted: double banded rust and impatiens.

Red Admiral copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

Red Admiral copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

The Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake was alive with red Admiral butterflies.

Common buckeye copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

Common buckeye copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

There were several of them nectaring on native ninebark shrub. Common buckeye and

American Lady copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

American Lady copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

American Lady were also seen. American lady differs from painted lady in that the butterfly has two giant eyespots on hind wings.

June 2: Family Festival was held in Spooner at the Fairgrounds. Hundreds a parents, grandparents, friends, and children were in attendance. Fresh Start and Happy Tonics partnered together to provide fun activities for children. My newest book, Monarch Butterfly Coloring Book,  just came out on Amazon. Copies were made of the butterfly coloring pages.

Gideon Fegman coloring monarch from Monarch Butterfly Coloring Book

Gideon Fegman coloring monarch from Monarch Butterfly Coloring Book

Gideon Fegman enjoyed coloring a monarch and said, “I am a naturologist.” John Jess, of Minong, provided several clay birdhouses and paint. Dan Gunderson, Fresh Start, gave the bird houses a first coat of paint. Children painted decorative designs on the birdhouses. We plan to make a stand and exhibit the birdhouses at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake.

Remember to stop by the Habitat on Saturday mornings and join the flea market fun from 8 a.m. – 10 a.m. Visitors can volunteer to do a few morning chores also.

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