Monday, July 5, 2010

Timber Rattlesnakes

 This impressive snake is the Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus). Don't you just love the species name? Horridus? Hinting at how horrible this snake has the potential to be? This is one of five venomous snakes in Missouri. The other four are the 1.) Western Pgymy Rattlesnake (Sistrurus miliarius streckeri), 2.)Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus catenatus), 3.) Osage Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix phaeogaster), and the 4.) Western Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus leucostoma).

The timber rattler in the first picture was photographed a few weeks ago at a farm we own. It was approximately 3 feet long and had 5 rattles. It was very calm and showed no signs of aggression. We could only manage to make it rattle when I reached down and touched it's tail. We watched it for about 45 minutes and I managed to get 70 pictures of it. She slithered away to hide under a pile of wood. Once she was safely hidden she started rattling. We found that rather odd, and assumed it must be a nervous reaction to us bothering her.

Scientist are finding out that these snakes are not rattling to warn of their presence. They instead remain hidden and quiet. To rattle is to advertise your presence and ultimately leads to your death. In parts of Oklahoma where these snakes are harvested during rattlesnake roundups field tests were done, and the results  showed that the snakes in areas that were heavily harvested were mostly silent. In areas where little to no harvesting is done, they rattled more often. This could indicate the evolution of a more silent rattlesnake. They are certainly adapting and learning to change their ways. The rattlesnakes developed the rattle to protect them on the great plains from being stepped on by great hoofed animals like buffalo. Now this rattle is a calling card to death.

The timber rattlesnake is the largest of all the venomous snakes in Missouri, reaching lengths up to 5 feet. The largest recorded specimen in Missouri was 47 inches long. The all time record for this species is one recorded in Alabama, at a length of 6 feet 2 1/2 inches and weighing in at 5.5 pounds. That would be one seriously large timber rattler. They are a thick bodied snake and often times have a girth the size of a grown mans forearm. These are a beautiful snake, and they are highly variable in their coloration. They can have a base color of yellow, gray, tan, or brown with dark brown to blackish markings. The markings are like bands or v-shaped lines along the mid-body. Often there will be a rust colored dorsal stripe running the entire length of the body.The tail is black. The top of the head is gray, light tan or yellow and unmarked. As with all pit vipers they have deep pits on either side of their head. These pits are sensory pits and used to hunt prey. They feed on mostly mammals, but will also eat birds, frogs and other snakes. While they are capable of eating other venomous snakes they typically eat garter snakes. These are potentially one of the most dangerous venomous snakes in North America, largely due to their very large fangs and copious amounts of venom. Thankfully they are generally mild tempered and usually give plenty of warning before striking. The one pictured below that is very well camouflaged was found on our farm in Fillmore Missouri. Last year my husband and I were there so I could do some bug hunting. We are aware that rattlesnakes reside on this farm and were being very careful as we walked through the tall grasses. I walked by a tree that had a small pile of yellow limestone rocks near it. It looked like a good spot for a snake to sun itself after a cool night like we had the night before. I noticed nothing. My husband walked right behind me, and said "There is a snake" I turned around and noticed he was pointing to the rock pile I was just near. I went back to the pile and sure enough there was small timber rattler laying in the grasses near the rocks. These snakes have amazing camouflage. I walked within 2 feet of him and never spotted him. He was about 2 feet long. Joey got a stick and gently nudged him so we could see where his head was, and it took off behind the tree and disappeared. He showed his head for about 1.1 second, certainly not long enough to get a picture. I at least got a picture of how cryptic their coloring is, and I found out how very easy it is to walk right past one and not know it is there. He did not rattle at any time, nor did he show any aggression.

 Unfortunately these snakes are in sharp decline in much of their range, and have disappeared entirely from numerous counties throughout Missouri. Largely this is due to loss of habitat and persecution by people who fear being bitten. They are state protected and should be left alone. While I would not want to find one in my back porch, I certainly can appreciate them in the wild where they belong. I often try to educate people about their importance to an ecosystem and that losing them could cause untold amounts of devastation. Fear of snakes is so deeply rooted in many people that they feel the only good snake is a dead snake, and this tends to be doubled when it comes to the venomous variety. I could find no records of any deaths in Missouri due to this snake or any other venomous snake. UPDATE: I have since learned of a recorded death in 1933 due to this species. Apparently there is no other deaths attributed to this species. It is difficult to gauge an exact tally of deaths due to venomous snakes before the 1960's as records were not kept. Instead deaths of this nature were lumped together as poisonous reactions and could be anything from bee stings, wasp stings to snake bites.  Many bites occur in men ages 18-25. My guess is alcohol is involved. If you are inebriated, and out messing with a creature that you KNOW has the potential to bite and kill you, you deserve to be bitten! Leave them in peace and they will leave you alone. Above all else, if you want to see one of these snakes in the wild, leave the alcohol at home! However the biggest majority of bites actually occur when someone tries to kill the snake. The best option is to leave the snake alone. If you are in a situation where that is not an option then try to find someone who is capable of relocating it. Killing the snake should always be a last option. In the United States there are less than 10 deaths a year attributed to venomous snakes, you are far more likely to die of a dog bite!

Often times people ask me how to age a rattlesnake. The tail grows a new rattle each time it sheds, but this is not an accurate indicator of age as the snake may shed up to 3 or 4 times a year depending on how plentiful food is. Often times rattles get brittle and break off or they become damaged and fall off. 

I am working with a professor of herpetology at MWSU in St. Joseph doing a rattlesnake study on our farm in Fillmore, MO. What we hope to learn from this study is:
1.) How many snakes are on this farm?
2.) Are they breeding and how many young are there?
3.) Where are they hibernating?
4.) How far are they traveling away from the den site?

It should be an interesting study, and will hopefully gain us much knowledge about these often feared and hated, but environmentally essential animals. We met Dr. Mills, and two of his students at the farm last week. We walked the farm for around 2 hours and were about to give up without sighting a single snake of any kind. As we headed back to the cars, my brother-in-law shouted that he found one. We went to investigate his find, and noticed there was a nice sized rattle snake hidden under a large rock. Dr. Mills pulled the rocks away and exposed the snake. It was about 2 1/2 feet in length, and once again did not rattle. Not even when held down with a snake stick did it get irritated and warn us with that all to familiar Cicada-like noise of the tail. This one has 6 rattles and a button. The tail is visible in this photo below.

If one can look past their own fears, to the beauty of these misunderstood creatures, they would see an animal that is fascinating in its creepiness and beautiful in its lethalness.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


I made it!!! do I get off this thing?

Never Mind... I figured it out!!!!

All that climbing gave me an appetite!!!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I can DO it!

 Our little raccoon baby is becoming quite independent. She grabs the bottle and wants to hold it herself, the problem is it weighs more than she can handle for more than a few seconds. It falls to the floor, she scrambles in a frantic manner to locate it and try as she might she cannot figure out how to get it back into her mouth with any success. I spend the entire feeding session placing the bottle back in her mouth and fighting her for control of the situation. SHE WANTS TO DO IT!  She is one feisty little raccoon. I can't help but wonder what the next few weeks will bring

  She has discovered that raccoons are curious.....yes it is bred into them....nothing is safe from their prying eyes and sensitive feet.

She is beginning to eat solid food now, mostly grapes, cherries and bananas. I've given her some dog food soaked in her milk and she seems to like it. Although I think she like taking the dog food and putting it in the water bowl and playing with it,more than she likes eating it.

Here she is sampling cherries, which seem to be her favorite.

My first trip outside...I'm not sure about this green stuff...

MOMMY! Hold me..pleaseeeee.

I've got a secret!

Sunday, May 30, 2010


 Bullfrogs (Rana catebeiana) are the largest frogs native to Missouri as well as in the rest of their range. They originally ranged from the Great Plains states, south to Texas, east to Central Florida. They were intentionally released in many Western States including California. This purposeful release was as a food source. The Red Leg frog in California was suffering a deep decline in numbers due to over harvesting. The bullfrog was released to compensate the reduction of numbers. Like what happens when most well meaning people release non-native species into new territories it poses a huge problem for native species, which is exactly what happened in California. Spadefoot toads, red-legged and yellow-legged frogs, young western pond turtles as well as native fish and even waterfowl chicks fall prey to this carnivorous frog.

The color of these frog can range from green, olive to brown. The hind legs are marked with distinct dark brown lines. The belly is white and the throat will have mottled gray appearance. Breeding males will have a yellow throat. The eardrums are visible on the side of their heads. The males have eardrums that are much larger than their eyes, the females have eardrums that are smaller or the same size as their eyes. These frogs range in size from 3 inches to 6 inches. The largest recorded bullfrog was over 8 inches in length (that's a lot of frog legs!). This frog is almost exclusively aquatic. They will be found in or near ponds, lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands, and sloughs. In years of drought their numbers may be greatly reduced. During years of heavy rains they will be seen crossing roads in large numbers.

 Bullfrogs are easily disturbed and will hop away if approached. Young bullfrogs will let out a "yelp" when jumping away. Breeding takes place in Missouri between Mid-May and Early July. Males will aggressively defend their territories during the mating season and will fend off other males by biting, mounting, kicking, bumping, or pushing other males. Large males can be heard on warm, balmy evenings singing loudly with a distinct  jug o' rum call. Several of these bullfrogs all singing at once can be a deafening chorus.....especially when planning a camping trip and they decide to sing loud and proud for the ladies. I've been awoken in the wee hours of the morning by their loud voices, crawled sleepily out of my tent and and flung whatever was handy at them. It effectively scares them away, only to have them return persistently to the same area over and over again! I can't help but feel that this is carrying "territorial" a bit far...can't they find ANOTHER side of the pond to sing from? One side is as good as the other right?

After mating, females are capable of laying up to 20,000 eggs. These eggs hatch and the young tadpoles will live in the water for 1 1/2 years before completing their life cycle. It will take another 2 to 3 years for them to reach adult size.

There was a study conducted in North Carolina that proved bullfrogs are resistant to the venom of the copperhead. To a lesser extent they were also immune to the venom of the cottonmouth.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Raccoon Eyes

 My eyes are finally open and I can see the world around me for the first time. I'm not sure who this crazy lady is who keep putting a bottle in my mouth and wiping my bottom? She talks sweet "baby-talk" to me.

 I like climbing on her and and scratching her with my sharp claws (and she never complains). Sometimes she tries to hug me, cause she says I'm SOOOOO cute, but I do NOT like to be hugged. I will forgive her though, cause she feeds me.

 This new home isn't like my old home, but it is pretty good, even if the crazy lady wears Popeye socks, she isn't too bad.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Raccoon Rescue

This precious little bundle is a two week old Raccoon. It was given to me by one of the Conservation agents in NW Missouri. Apparently a lady living in NW Missouri came into her kitchen to discover that her dog had brought her a present, in the form of this little baby. Fortunately the dog did not hurt the raccoon, but it sure freaked his owner out. She called the agent in her county and he in turn called me and asked if I could care for it. After caring for several raccoons many years ago I had made a promise to myself (and my husband) that I would NOT care for raccoons again. Once I laid eyes on this sad, orphaned baby I could not say no. She came home with me two weeks ago and was approximately a week old. In the picture above she is two weeks. At three weeks they open their eyes, although she has not done so yet. I really think she is a runt, and therefore a little behind what is considered average or normal. It took two days to get her to suck a bottle. It just did not feel like mommy, so she rejected it, but patience paid off and I finally coerced her into sucking.

  Raccoons are one of the cutest mammals in North America. They are also one of the most destructive forces known to the animal kingdom. There is nothing a raccoon can't get into or out of. Life is going to get real interesting here on the "Cox Farm" this summer. This little girl will be with us until September when she will then be old enough to survive on her own. I will keep you all updated on her progress.

 In this picture she is sucking on my finger, much like human babies they have a strong need to suck, even after getting their belly full, I am considering a pacifier for her.
Is this not the cutest little baby ever? I'm such a softy.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Blue-Winged Teal

 Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge in Northwest Missouri is a great place to see all forms of water fowl. A recent visit to the refuge proved fruitful as the blue-winged teal had returned and were pairing up in various areas of the wetland. The males will reach lengths up to 15 inches with the females being smaller. Their breeding plumage is unmistakable, the males possess a beautiful white "crescent" in front of their eyes. When in flight they have light blue patches on their forewings. After mating, the female will lay her eggs in a nest made of grasses lined with downy feathers, this nest will be located very close to the shoreline. She may lay up to 15 eggs. They will hatch in about 25 days and be ready to fledge in about 45 days. They are found throughout most of the United States during the summer months. They will overwinter in warmer areas such as the southern United States and Central America and South America.

While feeding they typically do not dive, instead they will skim the surface of the water for vegetation such as duckweed. They will also feed on insects and other aquatic plants. Their numbers have been steadily increasing over the past several years, especially in Eastern North America. This increase in numbers seems to be in large part in an increase in favorable habitat, like wetlands, ponds, and other shallow marshy areas.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Red Fox

  This year on the farm has proven to be quite interesting where wildlife is concerned. My husband and I have been seeing an adult Red Fox roaming around our farm for many weeks now. Because of the frequency in which we've been seeing her we figured the fox was a female and probably had babies somewhere on our farm. One day about 2 weeks ago Joey rounded the corner of one of our sheds and she was sitting beside a hole that leads under the shed. She began yipping and barking at him. I figured by the description of her behavior those babies were under the shed. Exactly one week later Joey and I were on the four-wheeler and drove around the same shed and one of the babies was outside. It was trying with great effort to drag a rather large rabbit, that it's mother killed for it back under the shed. After much tugging and pulling he finally managed to get it back inside.

  I tried for the last two weeks to get pictures of the babies all to no avail. Then today my husband was spraying weeds in one of our lots when he spotted three fox kits running around and playing. He called me and told me to come down to the lot if I wanted pictures. I quietly approached this drainage tube and sat patiently waiting. After about an hour two kits ran out, spotted me and took off under the shed.. I knew there was at least one more so I continued to wait. 15 minutes more went by when a little face peeked out. Within a few more minutes another little face peeked out. There are a total of four kits.

  The one of the left in this picture seems to be the dominant sibling. He was larger than the other three and more confident. The little one on the right was very submissive to him, and seemed to look up to him for security. It was very cute to watch them interact.

  Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes)  are apex predators. They are the most widely spread of all fox species. As their name suggests they are predominantly reddish is color. There are some variations in color occurring in some specimens. They may be gray or even silver. These lighter colored foxes are often called "Silver Fox". Closely related to dogs, they have learned to adapt quite well to human encroachment. This ability to co-exist with humans has led to them being a highly successful predator that is very plentiful in almost all of its range. They are even able to co-inhabit areas where other more specific species of fix live such as the Arctic Fox.

  Red Foxes can be found throughout almost all of North America, and are considered native to forested areas, but are introduced in more temperate regions. Many Red Fox were imported into the United States to create a fox hunting population, many of these imported species most likely crossbred with the native red fox to create a hybrid. This hybrid red fox could be the red fox many of us see.

Red Fox are the largest of the "true foxes" and can weigh up to 17 pounds. The fox which live in northern regions tend to be much larger than the ones found in more temperate time zones. Probably the most recognized feature of the Red Fox is their bushy tail. It is typically tipped with white and almost half as long as its body length. They will use this large fuzzy tail to wrap around themselves in the winter to help keep them warm. They have very large ears, which gives them excellent hearing. When I do trail hikes with small children we use our "fox ears" to hear things better. I have the kids hold their hands in front of them so that all their fingers are touching, then we place them behind our ears and push our ears forward. This funnels sounds into our ears and makes sounds appear louder. This is similar to the way foxes hear, they funnel sounds into those really large ears.

Although they are predators, they will feed on a variety of foods. This includes berries, fruit and even sunflower seeds. So while they are classified as carnivores, they are more accurately omnivores. When hunting their favorites are mice, voles, rabbits, birds and eggs. They have even been known to take down deer fawns. Watching them hunt is very humorous, it looks as if they are playing with their upcoming meal. They will stalk their prey, then leap high into the air and pounce the unsuspecting victim. They are capable of hearing mice scurrying around in the tall grass from a great distance. Fox have small stomachs for their overall size and cannot consume large portions at a single feeding. They will store leftover food in caches to consume later.

  Many people have long held the belief that Red Fox and Coyotes will not co-exist in the same territory. Red Fox do tend to live outside the perimeters of the coyotes home range. In reality most coyotes will ignore the red fox. In fact there are documentations of the red fox and the coyotes feeding together. There are definitely cases where the fox and coyote are aggressive to each other, these aggressions are usually initiated by the coyote. The only time the fox would be the aggressor would be if the coyotes approached her young. Here on our farm we have a family of coyotes living in a ditch on our property and we also have this family of fox. They seem to co-exist peacefully.

Typically fox are loners and only pair up in the winter. Their territories may be as large as 19 square miles. Several dens will be located within their ranges, and they will utilize these dens as hideouts. A larger den will be used during the winters, and for a birthing chamber. They will mark their territory using scent glands located underneath their tail. The scent given off by this gland is very much like the scent from a skunk. They are not capable of spraying their scent like a skunk though. We humans can smell the scent if we are within a few feet of where the fox sprays. Mated pairs will raise 4 to 6 young each year. When the young reach 8 months of age they are capable of being on their own, and usually leave the den to begin life as a full fledged adult fox.

I feel very fortunate to have this family of fox living on our farm and I hope to see them much more in the future. I'm sure they will help control and overpopulation of rabbits that tend to eat our garden veggies.

Friday, April 30, 2010


 This pretty little pink flower is the bloom of the Mayapple. They grow throughout Eastern North America in wooded areas. This one was photographed in St. Joseph on the walking trail  at my work. While hiking with a group of children I discovered them in bloom. I've hiked this trail for 6 years, in all seasons and this is the first time I was lucky enough to see the blooms. Shows that being in the right place at the right time is what making discoveries is all about. After doing some research I discovered that this pink bloom is rare for Mayapples, they usually have a white to off-white bloom. I am excited that I was able to see pink ones!

  This plant goes by many different names, and it probably depends upon where you live as to what you call it. Some of the more common names are Hogapple, Indian Apple, Umbrella Plant (from the shape of the leaves), Wild Mandrake, Wild Lemon (from the taste of the fruit), and Devil's Apple.
Once established they seem to be prolific. The woods at work are abundant with them, I usually pick one to show the kids up close and then ask them to image that it is natures own umbrella. Think of all the little critters that might find shelter under it's leaves during heavy rains...i.e. mice, insects, etc. They just laugh at the absurdity of the picture they get in their minds. Personally I like the notion that little creatures "might" hunker down under the leaves of this unique plant and wait out a spring storm.

Although the "apple" on this plant is edible it is reported to taste rather bitter. Raccoons seem fond of it and are sometimes seen sampling the berry....which is where this plant derives another common name of "raccoon berry". The root of the plant is poisonous  and can cause inflammation of the skin and eyes. Shawnee Indians would boil the root to make a strong laxative. There are two medications on the market today, one called podophyllin that is used as a strong cathartic, the other is peltatine that is being used as an experimental drug to treat some cancers.

Rumor has it that any woman who pulls up the root of this plant will soon become pregnant. I say leave it be!

Monday, April 26, 2010


  This unusual flower is called Jack-In-The-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum). They are a wildflower native to Missouri as well the rest of the Midwest and Eastern United States.. You will find them in deciduous hardwood forests growing in moist soil in the undergrowth. They are capable of reaching heights of up to 2 feet, but typically will be 8-12 inches. They are considered poisonous to livestock, which will graze on them if it is the only greens available to them. If you own cattle, sheep or horses that are allowed to graze in timbered areas that feature these flowers, it might be best to not let them graze in these areas until the plants are no longer present. Digging up the plants when they are found can help reduce their numbers if you are concerned for livestock. Otherwise these plants are beautiful and certainly very interesting to look at. The one pictured here was photographed today on a woodland trail behind my office at work. I found 5 total in the woods all within a few feet of each other. Their blooming time is limited to spring here in NW Missouri. In some areas they are capable of blooming throughout the summer. In the fall, bright red berries become evident.

 These plants are perennial and will return year after year. They grow from an underground corm, that resembles a turnip. Long shoots will break through the ground and three leaves will form behind the peculiar bloom-like structure. They will range in color from purple, green and greenish-white. These flowers are easily grown in shade garden and make an interesting addition to your perennial shade garden. The flowers are sure to illicit many comments.

This plant goes by many names, and depending upon where you live can be called, Bog onion, Devil's ear, Marsh turnip, Brown dragon, Indian turnip,Plant of peace and Memory root. Much myth surrounds this interesting plant.....The Meskwaki indians would float the inner seed of this plant around in a cup of water. This was done to decide the fate of sick individuals. If the seed floated and rotated clockwise four times the patient could expect to recover from whatever illness was plaguing them. If the seed sank before completing four rotations it meant the patient would surely perish. The seeds were also ground up and placed in meat. The meat was left outside for the Sioux Indians (the enemy of the Meskwaki indians) to find. Believe it or not the Sioux indians would pick up the tainted meat and consume it, learning too late their mistake when they fell ill and died. They fell for this trick not once, not twice, but over and over again. Apparently never learning the cause of the illness and death of their tribe members. It was discovered if the root was left to dry for up to 6 months it could be ground into a powder and used to make bread. Apparently drying the root releases the toxins and makes it safe for consumption that causes illness or death. A poultice was made from the root and used to treat sores, and even snake bites.Early settlers adopted this practice from the Native Americans. There are many other lores attributed to this plant. Some stated the plant grew at the base of the cross at calvary, and the red streaks are from the fallen blood. Still another lore says that bears which were in hibernation for forty days could eat this plant and and fully recover from their long hibernation.

The design of the plant is very important for protection. The spathe which covers the “pitcher” of the plant protects the flower that is hidden inside at the base of the spadix. This prevents the tube from filling up with rainwater, which would wash away the pollen. Insects, especially gnats, are drawn into the spathe by a fungal smell emitted by the plant. They are attracted to the color of the pollen which covers the floor of the chamber. Because the tube is slippery, insects have a hard time leaving. There is a small flap formed by the leaves that smaller insects can fit through to complete pollination. Larger insects, including flies, however get stuck and often end their life in the base of the plant. Though the shape and design of the plant mimics that of a pitcher-plant, Jack-in-the-Pulpit is not carnivorous. The plant is also able to change sex. Most plants are males that become female in favorable conditions. Because the responsibilities of the female plant (seed production) require strength, plants may never become male or revert back if conditions suddenly change.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Sand Cherry

This beautiful pink flower is the bloom of the Sandy Cherry tree. This unique tree can also be cultivated as a shrub. While not native to Missouri, with beautiful red leaves and gorgeous pink blooms they make a stunning addition to your landscape. Bees are attracted to the highly fragrant blooms. The smell coming from the flowers on this tree is almost intoxicating in their intensity. They grow to be approximately 10 feet tall, and are hardly from zones 2-8. Grow them in full to part sun locations, otherwise if grown in the shade their foliage will change from purple-red to yellow-green. They seem to be tolerant of a wide variety of soil conditions, but prefer well drained soil best. They are prone to various diseases and have a life expectancy of approximately 10 to 15 years.
Japanese beetles are VERY fond of the purple leaf sand cherry, unfortunately. Other pests include peachtree borer, scale, fall webworm, aphids, mealy bugs,and tent caterpillars. Diseases include honey fungus, verticillium wilt, black knot, cankers, powdery mildew, leaf spot, bacterial leaf scorch, and frost cracks.
Over all I would recommend this pretty little tree to your yard. They provide beautiful color and fragrant blooms.

Friday, April 9, 2010


 Second blooming flower of spring. My daffodils finally opened and showed their lovely yellow flowers. Such vibrant color sure puts a smile on my face after such a long cold, harsh winter.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Yellow Crocus

I was beginning to think that nothing would begin blooming. I usually have crocus blooming by the end of February or the first of March. I just discovered these blooms 2 nights all I can say is....Better late than never.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Winters final fury....?

Friday dawned bright and sunny with a forecast for 50 degrees. I spotted two Turkey Vultures soaring on the thermals and a painted turtle sunning himself on a log in the pond at my office. These two sights created in me an overwhelming sense of contentment....Spring was near. My excitement was short lived however, with the voice of the weatherman blaring on the radio "100% chance of Snow, accumulations up to 5 inches!"

NO! Say it isn't so! NO MORE SNOW! I simply cannot take it, not another day! 
Unfortunately for me the weatherman was right, Friday night the snow began to fall, and it continued to fall all day Saturday, with gusty winds up to 25 MPH. It was a frigid, miserable day, this first day of Spring! What is the old saying about March roaring in like a lion and leaving like a lamb, or is that the other way around? 
All told this latest snow storm dumped 5 more inches of snow on us. Sunday the temperatures reached the 40's and melted the snow, on the already water-logged soil here in NW Missouri. The ground here just can't hold any more water. When I walk across the yard, the water squishes up out of the soil and feels like you are walking on a water-logged sponge. 

It was still quite chilly yesterday, but I was still prompted to head outside and see what birds were hanging at the feeders. I found chick-a-dees, sparrows, Northern Mockingbirds, Northern Cardinals, Juncos, American Goldfinches, Downy Woodpeckers, Yellow-Bellied Woodpeckers, Starlings, Common Grackles, and White-Breasted Nuthatches all busy feeding, and tormenting each other. Breeding season is on the horizon. Each morning I am awakened to the sounds of the birds singing a delightful chorus, in the hopes of attracting a suitable mate. Apparently the recent weather activities do not put them off in the least. Once they have sex on the brain there is not stopping them.

I am hoping and praying that Saturday's snow fall was a fluke, and that warmer days and sunshine are ahead.
Seriously, one 60 degree day in 4 months is enough to make even the nicest person cranky....yes.....I mean me. I am getting seriously cranky! I need warmth! I swear being born in Missouri was some cruel joke the fates played on me....I should have been born in a different hemisphere, I just know it!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

More snowy weather

There seems to be no end to the snowy, cold weather that we are experiencing in NW Missouri. Yesterday the weatherman predicted an inch of snow.......after 4 inches fell it became apparent he miscalculated! Looking out the front door, the snow was coming down so heavy I could barely seen our grain bins across the driveway.


This view is of a corn field across the highway from where we live. The snow was such a wet snow that it clung to the sides of the trees. It was fast accumulating on the highway and made traveling treacherous.

(House Sparrow)

I threw some dried cranberries, sunflower seeds and leftover nuts into the front yard. The birds were grateful, as they scratched around in the snow,looking for the treats. House Sparrows, Cardinals, Starlings, Chick-a-dees, Harris Sparrows and American Goldfinches all showed up for dinner.

(Harris Sparrow)

(Northern Cardinal)


The weatherman is calling for 2 more inches of snow tonight and an additional 5 inches tomorrow. The farmers almanac said that we could get 22 inches of snow in NW Missouri throughout the month of February, appears that they are correct. I can't remember a time in my life when I was more ready for spring and the return of warm weather.