The Shawnee News-Star Weekender Oct. 5th 2019 Becky Emerson Carlberg Goody.   Autumn weather has arrived in all its splendor and glory.   Much of the week was too warm as was Maryland where I had been the week before.   No rain had fallen for days in the Baltimore area. The foot-tall Celosia (Cockscomb) growing by the […]

The Shawnee News-Star Weekender Oct. 5th 2019

Heysen Farm Market

Becky Emerson Carlberg

Goody.   Autumn weather has arrived in all its splendor and glory.   Much of the week was too warm as was Maryland where I had been the week before.   No rain had fallen for days in the Baltimore area. The foot-tall Celosia (Cockscomb) growing by the mailbox, covered in burgundy feathery plumes and supposedly deer resistant, had not been touched for weeks and was regularly watered.   Two days before I left, I noticed half the plant had disappeared.   The outside camera showed at 2:30 am this deer loitering at the mailbox.   The following morning only a few 3 inch stems remained.   'Odocoileus' is the genus name for the white-tailed deer which in Greek means hollow tooth (these deer have hollow teeth).   Should be hollow leg.  

Ann, Lori and part of a cornfield in garage.

Residents in the neighborhood of Countryside welcomedOctober in a natural way.  Corn stalks sproutingdried ears of corn, durable plastic orange and red autumn foliage, hay balesand pumpkins began appearing all over the place.  I watched as one lady across the streetopened the back of her Suburban and loaded the entire section with tassel-toppedcorn stalks before driving away.  Peeringinto the garage I saw one entire side stacked high with the contents of adehydrated corn field.  A giant box ofplastic leaves sat to the side.  Haybales and pumpkins spilled out onto the front drive. When another personappeared, I hopped over to see what was happening. Ann and Lori said they werepart of a group decorating Countryside for autumn.  In December, out come the winter decorations forthis small community of 1200 people.   

Dried corn plants trussed together in triangulararrangements, tied into bundles, or used as a backdrop for scarecrows mean fallis here. Each light pole in Countryside will have corn stalks wrapped withvines of leaves and bound by a burlap ribbon tied into a bow.  This tradition has been going on for three years.  It certainly added some bling to theneighborhood. 

Corn.  The veggie ofchoice on the cob or popped.  The yellowor multi-colored kernels we eat or feed to livestock or turn into ethanol orcorn syrup or silage (fermented chopped corn plants fed to livestock usually inwinter).  North Americans, Australians,and New Zealanders call it corn, Latin name 'Zea mays'. Outside thecolonist countries, corn is called maize.  

The Countryside corn plants came from the farmer who operated the produce stand nearby.   Ahh, the next thing to investigate.  

Light pole in autumn display

Tables were full of leafy greens, veggies and other fruits fromlocal farmers who use sustainable practices. The Kabocha squash caught my eye. Very pumpkin-like, some were deep dark green and one was a brilliantred-orange.  Kabocha is a Japanesevariety of winter squash picked before full ripeness and stored many weeks toallow the flavor to peak. Odd thing is all squash originated in Central America.  This squash first wound up in Cambodia beforebecoming popular in Japan.  I went out ona limb and bought a fresh huge sweet potato. The seller assured me the tuber had been cured and was ready to bake. Thefast way to cure a newly dug sweet potato can take only a week if the potato isexposed to 90 degrees in 85% humidity. That orange storage root was one of thesweetest and most flavorful sweet potatoes I have had. 

The weekend of September 27-29th was the Wildlife Expo hosted by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.   The event took place at the Lazy E Arena outside of Guthrie. Lazy E Ranch is all about horses and located on over 300 acres with 15 miles of PVC fencing!

Oklahoma Master Naturalist table at Wildlife Expo

Friday was school kid day with thousands of students of allages.  They gravitated to the binoculararea to find turtles in the meandering stream. The Rogers County ConservationDistrict had set up a butterfly garden, wildlife displays with hand-craftedwood boxes and the binocular site.  TheOklahoma Master Naturalist table presented Bob the Bobcat (Bob's pelt) whogarnered endless petting and touching. The Horned Lizard display also attracted plenty of attention.  One lizard escaped from the outdoorcontainment area and was found at the horse barn about 100 yards away.  Going home. The reptile wound up not in the outside cage but had a time-out in theterrarium. 

Bluebird house construction took place both Saturday andSunday under a large open tent at the edge of the wildlife area.  Ten sessions of 25 boxes were assembledthroughout each day, one per family.  Cavitynesters like bluebirds and chickadees prefer dead trees (snags) to build theirnests, but many snags have been cut and cleared away by those unaware of theirimportance.  The bluebird houses serve asa substitute to help increase the bluebird population.  Boxes are put on a pole at least 8 feet awayfrom trees to prevent the invasion of snakes and other wildlife.  These boxes will be erected next spring.  Bluebird nesting ended early August.

The Bow and Arrow Clinic was active all day long.   Here the kids could learn to shoot real arrows and make a bow.   Wonder if they used Osage Orange wood?   150 bows were raffled off during the weekend.

Rogers County Conservation set-up at Wildlife Expo

Inside the Lazy E Arena were 75 static displays andexhibits.  The Museum of Osteology hadtouch tables with furs, bones and one 6 foot tall adult male grizzly bearskeleton you could stand beside and take your own picture with him.  Now there's a photo to send to your friendsat Halloween.  With an adjacent tent fullof displays set up outdoors, wherever you went there was something to do.  Weave baskets, shoot shotguns, fish, do someprimitive cooking, paddle kayaks or tackle the climbing wall.  The bison chili and fried catfish were quite good.

Over 20,000 reported on-line they had attended which meantthousands more had also come.  Areaschools represented on Friday were North Rock Creek, South Rock Creek and Dalebut no Shawnee or Tecumseh unless they didn't make it to the wildlifearea.  Their loss either way.  The Wildlife Expo was a fun and educationalexperience.

Monarch migration stalled in southern Kansas and the TexasPanhandle earlier this week. Tuesday and Wednesday activities were cancelled(Oct 1-2) at Hackberry Flat in southwest Oklahoma.  The Monarchs have taken a more westerly path.  Hummingbirds are also migrating and have beenseen on local flowers and feeders.  TheRogers County conservationist keeps his feeders going until November to catchany stragglers.  The cold fronts now surgingthrough the state may encourage the migrants to get a move on (as I write thison Wednesday Oct 2nd).

Go guys go.  Fly likethe wind.