Butterfly Corner with Happy Tonics

Butterfly Corner
by Mary Ellen Ryall

April 20 – In honor of Earth Day, Jim VanMoorleham and I planted five native chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) shrubs in area three, near the Memory Tree Grove, at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat. Black chokeberry is a deciduous, cold hardy shrub useful in landscape plantings, showing white flowers in the spring, colorful red foliage, and heavy dark fruit in the fall.

Meadow fritillary copyright Mike Reese, Wisconsin Butterflies Organization

Meadow fritillary copyright Mike Reese, Wisconsin Butterflies Organization

April 24 – Today I saw a white cabbage and a fritillary butterfly. The fritillary’s host plant is violet; flowers are in bloom. Butterfly sightings were posted to Wisconsin Butterfly Organization at http://wisconsinbutterflies.org/Individuals may record their butterfly sightings at this site. Kids would enjoy this activity as much as adults do. The project allows us to understand butterfly population trends.

My Name is Butterfly copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

I am happy to report that my book, “My Name is Butterfly,” is now available at Gadsden Public Library in Gadsden, AL. I am thrilled that libraries around the country are purchasing the book for children. Book postcards also went to the State Library Convention in AL where it was given exposure to other librarians.

According to ABC News, “A female Baringo giraffe calf at the Bronx Zoo was enjoying the warm New York weather over the weekend while frolicking with a butterfly that flew through her exhibit. The butterfly caught the newborn baby’s eye while she was nuzzling her mom and exploring her new home. The calf was born in March but has not yet been named, according to the Bronx Zoo. All of the zoo’s giraffes are named in memory of James and Margaret Carter, benefactors for the Carter Giraffe Building.” You can view the chase at http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/baby-giraffe-chases-butterfly-bronx-zoo-16151869

Award winning squash bread copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

Award winning squash bread copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

April 25 – My recipe for Squash Bread was a winner at the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College Sustainability Living Fair. The bread was chosen for Jiibaakweyang, We are Cooking Together, Flavors of Lac Courte Oreilles. I was delighted to share saved squash seed with attendees. The acorn squash grew in the Three Sisters Garden at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in 2011. Seed sharing is all about stories of where seed comes from. At the fair, Sheldon Spratford gave me beautiful corn husks. He reported that his grandmother grew the corn until the 1980s, when she passed away. He found one husk of dried corn at her house afterwards and saved it. Sheldon, an elder, mentioned that he has been growing the sweet corn since the 1990s. He mentioned that the corn is sweet and small. Happy Tonics will offer the seed at several environmental events in May. The Visitors Center/Store will be open for the season on Memorial Weekend. We invite you to stop by for sweet corn seed.

April 26 – Journey North reported that the monarch migration moved into five new U.S. states—Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, and Minnesota this past week. The cold snap is keeping monarchs away from Shell Lake; there is no milkweed up yet in the habitat. Let us hope that a warming spell will begin soon.

Carol Hubin reported on April 28 that milkweed is up on her property in Shell Lake. Keep your eyes posted. If you spot a monarch, please let us know if it is a faded butterfly or freshly born. Knowing the difference will allow Happy Tonics to record the following: Did the butterfly fly all the way from Mexico or is this the first generation of butterfly in the U. S.? Female butterflies will need milkweed to lay their eggs on. Female butterflies only live a few weeks after depositing eggs.

In 2012, we are going to count monarch eggs at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat and mark milkweed plants that have eggs. Wire cages with tags will be used to identify which milkweed plants have eggs. If you have any old tomato cages to donate or see a monarch sighting, please call Mary Ellen at (715) 466-5349.

Ginger Wilcox smudges Mike Carpenter

Ginger Wilcox smudges Mike Carpenter

April 28 – 5th Annual Earth Day Event in Shell Lake was well attended. We are grateful to Dr. John Anderson and Ginger Wilcox for leading us in a Native American Ceremony to honor donors. Butterfly friends came to celebrate the butterfly and conservation efforts on behalf of the butterfly. Happy Tonics hosted an informal potluck afterwards at the Visitors Center/Store at 25 Fifth Avenue, Shell Lake.

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Butterfly Corner – March 23, 2012

March 23 – The 2nd Annual Northwest Wisconsin Regional Food Summit was held at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College. John Peck, Family Farm Defenders, was keynote speaker. The topic: Food Sovereignty. In the not so distant past, the family farm and home garden were responsible for supplying food on the table. This system radically changed during the “Green Revolution.” Currently in our everyday lives, we have found out that a globalized food chain has come at a very high cost. Fuel for transportation has risen; seed has gone to hybrid and patented GMO; animals are owned of big Ag-chemical companies. What is wrong with this picture? Food Sovereignty is imperative for food security.

Last year I raised my own vegetables. I learned to can, freeze, dehydrate and dry my foods and herbs. I bought Bashaw’s organic berries and grass fed frozen beef. The organic farm is located on Highway 63, between Spooner and Shell Lake, WI. I know this food is healthy. In 2011, Lac Courte Oreilles Public Library published Jiibaakweywang, We are Cooking together, Flavors of Lac Courte Oreillis. Sandy Stein’s award winning recipe 3 Step Manoomin (wild rice) is published in the book. Sandy is Happy Tonics Secretary. She started a Happy Tonics garden plot of native and medicinal herbs in 2011. This is a seed saving project.

My recipe for Organic Four Grain Health Bread was published in Jiibaakweywang. I used amaranth (red root, pig weed) from the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake. Who knew that wild edibles would be part of the native plant community, in the Native Wildflower and Butterfly Garden? The collaborative book project was made possible by the Institute of Museum Library Services Enhancement Grant for Native American Library Sciences. The focus of the project is to target areas of health, the environment, and traditional culture.

April 14 – Last year over 100 people attended the Gadsden, Alabama, Public Library Local Author Day, which according to Julie Dobbins, is a fun and exciting event! The yearly event provides a great opportunity to discover new writers, buy some books, and get them signed by the author. My Name is Butterfly, written by Mary Ellen Ryall, will be on display at the event. Colorful postcards, with details on how to purchase the book on Amazon, will be available to fellow authors and the public.  It is near impossible to attend all the writer events, such as this; when we are so far off the beaten path. I consider it a great privilege to have my book at the Gadsden, Alabama, Public Library Local Author Day event.

The Aldo Leopold film, Green Fire, will be shown on TV in April. The film is about land ethics. Aldo Leopold Foundation says, “The first full-length documentary film ever made about legendary environmentalist Aldo Leopold, Green Fire, highlights Leopold’s extraordinary career, tracing how he shaped and influenced the modern environmental movement. Leopold remains relevant today, inspiring projects all over the country that connect people and land.” We should all be proud that the environmentalist lived in Wisconsin. Leopold wrote his famous book Sand Country Almanac in our own state.   See the following times and channels:

Friday, April 20 at 8pm on WPT; Sunday, April 22 at 2pm on The Wisconsin Channel; and
Tuesday, April 24 at 11pm on WPT.

March 22 – Monarch butterfly news. Due to the unusually warm temperatures and high winds blowing north from the Gulf of Mexico, over the last two weeks, the butterfly has traveled further north at record speed. According to Journey North, the monarch has already reached Kansas, a distance of 1,200 miles from Mexico. There is concern that the monarch is ahead of the normal migration cycle, usually the monarch is in Kansas on April 15. Scientists are diligently watching for an “ecological mismatch.”  The monarchs are at a critical time in life. It is this generation that reproduces the next generation of butterflies. Will milkweed be up and ready for the laying of eggs on milkweed this early in the season?

In December, Dr. Lincoln Brower and other scientists count the number of Oyemal fir trees that have overwintering monarchs. The Mexican count showed the monarch population down by 28 percent from last year. This is an ongoing trend. Part of the cause is the continued plundering by illegal loggers in and around the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in Mexico.

Another concern is the loss of milkweed in breeding habitat. “Dr. Karen Oberhauser is co-author of newly published research. Her study found a 58% decline in milkweed and an 81% decline in monarch egg production in agricultural fields of the Midwest,” Source: Journey North.

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