Mother Nature

“Oh now isn’t that special,” I said to myself, staring through my reading glasses and into  the coffee cup three inches from my face.   If my daughter was here, she would have run away screaming like her panty hose were on fire.   She is Metro Barbie and has zero  tolerance for crawlies.

It was almost July and I had just returned from seeding the new road at my little “heaven on earth” - 80 acres of forest south of Isle. Wood tick season was over and gusty winds would blow the mosquitoes away, I had reasoned, so I didn’t spray up with Deet before heading out.  Just back home and lifting my coffee cup for a third slurp, there doing the breast stroke in my Columbian, was a wood tick.  I got a brief shudder of the heebies as I watched the hot brew cook its little hide till it flipped feeties up and croaked. These Minnesota ticks are ingenious. Even when I spray head to toe with bug spray, the wee darlins hitchhike on my pig tails till I get home and then later jettison hither and thither in hopes of latching onto me for dinner.  This one missed the mark.  I had to wonder how many others I may have swallowed when I was NOT wearing my reading glasses.

"Before" picture of the tornado area "Before" picutre of the swamp thatch
Mother Nature. One envisions a delicate creature in flowing diaphanous garments, anointing the leaves with dew at dawn and tapping seeds to germinate in spring.  Such is the anthropomorphized representation that focuses on the life-giving and nurturing features of nature by embodying it in the form of a Mommy. What seems odd to me, however, is the conspicuous absence of the obvious and real counterpoint of Momma Nature that is manifest in things like, tornados and their damage, wood ticks or deer flies, a hawk diving on a mouse for dinner, our cyclical infestations of forest tent caterpillars and the bat guano all over my cabin porch. Said tornado damage was all over the northeast corner of my property.  The black and gray skeletons of previously majestic trees littered that area like a battleground of slain warriors.  It was if Mother Nature had wielded a huge scythe while in the throws of a major mood swing umpteen years ago.  To manually clean it up was utterly beyond my puny abilities.

I had been looking at the mess that covered about four acres, for going on ten years now.  It was time for Momma Linda to take on Momma Nature.

The Big machines at camp Digging the Pond
Thankfully, Momma Linda has friends with big bull dozers and excavators, notably, the Larson family south of Isle, who among other things can move dirt nearly as well as a tornado.  I enlisted their help to give Mother Nature a run for her money.   This would be a formidable task, since the damaged area was accessible only by ATV or on foot.  Hence, it would mean widening trails, creating others, and making a road to the opposite end of our property.  There was a drainage crossing that would require a culvert, and some creative land fill challenges.  Add to that the plan to open up some of the thatch on a large swamp north of our cabin to make a small pond for waterfowl and other wildlife.

Bull dozing the tornado area The completed field now planted in crops
About six weeks ago, I came home from work to find the aforementioned monster  machinery poised in my turn-around at camp like a movie set for Star Wars.  I literally got an adrenalin rush thinking that what I’d patiently planned in my head for ten years was finally going to happen.  That plan, besides widening the trails, was to clean up the graveyard of dead or dying trees and create a 2 plus acre open out of it.  The Larsons also suggested that by opening up the thatch of the swamp, the sludge removed could be graded to make yet another field to plant.  I followed the bull dozer and excavator around the woods with my camera like a little kid.   I had tied pink surveyors tape in the general areas where the work was to be done, and in of a couple days, all was cleared.   The finish grading was delayed due to rain so it was finished later.  I seeded all the new trails and road with rye or timothy grass, mixed with clover to reduce erosion.   Also, I have used Antler King products for food plots for many years, and contacted them for help to   recommend what to plant and where, especially in the tornado area now turned open field.  I ‘pH’ tested all five fields first before planting to see if I need to lime them.  After tilling with a flip-over disc and then a drag harrow, I also planted peas, soybeans, oats, brassica, clover, rape and turnips – putting different combos of seeds in each field.  Most of the seed was Antler King, but I also had some custom mixed at a local Farm and Feed store.

The completed pond and field next to it Pond seen from the cabin
Woodticks not withstanding, I have, for the time being, rectified “Mother Nature’s Bad Day.”  Knowing Minnesota weather, that could change tomorrow however, but the effort is well worth it.  My daughter in law and my son’s best friend have yet to harvest deer and I’m hoping these new management efforts help to bring them success this fall.