Tag Archives: conservation

Bald Eagles on the Rise

bald-eagleJill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz ~

Winter is one of the best times to see bald eagles in Missouri.  A few years back, on a winter day much like this one,  Dean and I spotted a pair of adult bald eagles circling lazily above our house on the warm rising thermals of a mid-winter day.  Their white head and tail feathers shone brightly against the clear blue sky.  Since we don’t often get to see them for long, we watched the pair with much excitement and within minutes, a darker sub-adult joined them.  We were thrilled to get a rare glimpse of this eagle family, especially since we were so far from the large lakes and rivers where the eagles prefer to congregate this time of year.

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Nature Notes: Milkweed, Monarchs and You!

Close up of Purple Milkweed flowers. Copyright Jill Henderson ShowMeOz.wordpress.comShow Me Oz

As a gardener and lover of nature, I garden with butterflies and beneficial insects in mind.  Yet, for all my efforts, the one North American butterfly that I have failed to lure to my garden is the bright and beautiful Monarch.  For years I thought the failure was mine, but the truth is that these icons of the butterfly world are in dire straights and their numbers are spiraling dangerously downward.  The good news is that there is something we can all do to help them – and all their colorful kin – to flourish once again.

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Slow & Steady: Turtles in the Ozarks

IMG_8863by Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

When we first moved to the Ozarks it was a three-toed box turtle that inspired us to call our place Turtle Ridge Farm.  The first morning after moving in, we opened the front door to find a big box turtle sitting on the porch, smack dab in front of the door. The concrete porch isn’t all that high, but high enough to be difficult if you’re only 5” tall.

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Flicking Feathers

2008-3 -  April sunrise (27)By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

If someone had told me when I was younger that I would actually enjoy being awake before dawn, I would have laughed.  But over the years I have developed the habit of waking up with the sun.   And since we turned the clocks forward in anticipation of the Spring Equinox on March 20th,  I’ve been up  just in time to witness the rising sun as it paints the eastern sky with watercolor shades of pink and yellow; everything looks so new and fresh in the muted light of dawn and life is just beginning to stir in the dark recesses of the woods.

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The Great Apes of Sumatra (A Travel Story) Part III

B45-Abdul-showing-off._thumb.jpgBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

(If you missed them, you can read Part I and Part II here.)

When we left the story last week, Dean and I had just come face to face with an extraordinary creature named Abdul.  A free, but not yet wild male orangutan whose eyes shone with an intelligence and knowing that was both unsettling and revealing.  Just as we turned to hike up the mountainside towards the feeding platform a female orangutan named Jackie came into the clearing walking upright on two legs and waved at us.  Instinctively, we all waved back. Continue reading

The Great Apes of Sumatra (A Travel Story) Part II

B45 Abdul showing off.By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

(If you missed it, you can read Part I here.)

After walking through the jungle mist along a narrow foot trail that followed the Bohorok River upstream, the narrow dirt path suddenly vanished into an impressive wall of giant rocks that had obviously fallen from the surrounding bluffs thousands of years ago.  Although we were alone at present, this was obviously the place where we were to meet our guide for the trip across the river to the Bohorok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. Continue reading

The Great Apes of Sumatra (A Travel Story) Part I

'Abdul' - Bohorok Rehabilitation CenterBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

In the half-light of a misty dawn, we walked quickly down the narrow jungle path that wove its way along the high banks of the rocky river below. The thick morning fog oozed slowly down from the mountains all around us, shrouding its highest points in a mysteriously gauzy veil. We had only been walking for fifteen minutes, but already we were soaked in minute, iridescent beads of moisture. Continue reading

Return to the Wild: A Deer Story

Daisy says hello.   Image by Jill HendersonBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

About this time last year, Dean and I were working on a new garden bed beside the front porch.  It had been a warm spring and the weather was perfect for working outdoors.  We were both intently hacking away at the compacted soil with our shovels and rakes when I happened to look up.  What I saw took my breath away.   Not two feet from Dean stood a doe quietly nibbling at the clover in the grass.  My heart raced.  This couldn’t be happening, could it?  She was close enough to touch.  Thinking she would bound away at the slightest breath, I stood like a statue, absorbing every little detail.  She raised her head and looked into my eyes and right then, I knew she was no ordinary deer.

The Terrace Project: Year One (part II)

Repaired and seeded terrace slope.By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

The first few months of addressing the severe erosion on the terraces cut into the hillside behind our house involved a lot of physical labor.  With shovel, rake and clay-covered boots, we were able to repair the worst of the damage and redirect the runoff into the adjoining swale.  But that was just the beginning.  Once the repairs had been made, we had to figure out just how we were going to stabilize the barren expanse of clay and rock hovering a mere 20’ from our back door. The first and most obvious answer to permanently stabilizing the terraces was to vegetate them. Doing so might seem elementary, but as anyone who has ever lived in an area with clay “soils” knows that getting anything at all to grow on a mountain of solid red Ozark clay and rock is easier said than done – even for a pair of skilled gardeners like Dean and I.

The Terrace Project: Year One (part I)

The Terrace ProjectBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

When Dean and I moved to our new place in August of 2011, we knew that we had a few landscaping challenges ahead of us.  The first was the hilly driveway, which was so washed-out I was afraid to drive on it.  The next was the vast expanse of rocky hillside on which our home was perched.  It not only had little in the way of leaf mast or groundcover, but also served as a major conduit for runoff during heavy rains.  The third challenge would be converting the small front and side yard, made up of solid red clay and weeds, into a herb and vegetable garden. But the ultimate challenge came in the form of a pair of terraces cut into the face of the hillside behind the house and the mud-fest that was the backyard.  If I thought the driveway was scary, the bare, eroding terraces were a downright nightmare.

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Ozark Riverways: A History in Perspective

Spring CreekBy Jill Henderson (A Journey of Seasons: A Year in the Ozarks High Country)

When my husband and I left the pristine wilds of Montana back in 1996, I never thought I would ever again see rivers that were as lovely and clear as those high mountain streams – but then we found the Ozarks.  Some of the rivers in these hills are so clear that you can count the rocks at the bottom six feet down, and so cold they’ll take your breath away.  Obviously, Ozark rivers are the pride and joy of south central Missourians and in the depths of the hot summer months, they are also our respite.  But the rivers in the Ozarks also have a long history – some of which is much more recent than most realize.

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Wrens, Tree Frogs and Rain Gardens

Carolina Wren - Dan Pancamo - Wikimedia CommonsHere in our little slice of Ozarks heaven, we are most fortunate to be granted the privilege of greeting every new day with a lyrical symphony of sound that has the ability take our breath away.  Yet, there are those rare occasions when the sweet symphony becomes more like a raucous cat fight.  Take the Carolina wren for example. Earlier in the week I spotted a male wren among the brushy edges of the woods, bobbing and flicking his tail up and down.  I’ve always found wrens interesting enough, but to be honest, they never really made any enduring impression on me – just a nice little brown bird that flicks its tail a lot.   I would soon be proven wrong. Continue reading

Otters in the Ozarks

Image by Schmiebel By Jill Henderson

When Henry Rowe Schoolcraft first entered the Ozarks in 1818, he found the area lightly populated by settlers whose livelihoods included hunting, trapping and timber. At that time, the Ozarks were still a secret wilderness overflowing with thick virgin timber and teaming with wildlife.  But it wouldn’t be long before prospectors began to cash-in on the abundance of the land, and a great assault on the precious resources of the Ozarks began. Continue reading

A Hole Lot of Trouble!

Woodpecker Hole © 2011 Jill HendersonBy Jill Henderson

Last week I was in the shop working on a project when I realized that for the entire hour that I had been there, I had been hearing the steady, drumming rhythm of a woodpecker pounding a nearby tree. I stepped out of the shop to look for the source of the sound, hoping to find out which species of woodpecker it was. I scanned the trunks of nearby trees without luck. Finally, I walked around the side of the well house to get a better look at the lower portion of the trees when a small woodpecker shot out in front of me and landed in a low-hanging branch ten feet away. I turned to look at the side of the well house and immediately saw a tidy hole in the wood siding just below the eave.

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Big Bucks and Hunting Season

hunterssmBy Jill Henderson

As we round into the third week of November the Ozarks is enjoying blissful days of low-70 degree temperatures and generally sunny skies.  The winds have been gusting steadily all week long and have finally blown in a good soaking.  I view the weather from the perspective of a gardener, homesteader, and naturalist and this week’s weather has afforded my husband and I the perfect opportunity to check our fence lines and enjoy a hearty hike in the woods.  But  now that the official hunting season has begun, we will spend the next two weeks a little closer to the house.

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Bob Ross and Titmice: A Meditation on Conservation

BobRoss1oilBy Jill Henderson

Saturday morning I was curled up in a blanket watching Bob Ross paint a winter landscape on PBS.  I was enjoying his rapturous meditation on loving life and the subtle nuances of painting glacial mountains against a blue sky when a slight movement outside the window caught my eye. Like a cat to a bit of bright yarn, my eyes were immediately drawn to a silky grey titmouse flirting in the low branches of the oak tree.

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Aiming to Transform

copyright Kelsey RumleyBy Greg Swick

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”  – Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

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Of Rocks and Snakes

By Jill Henderson

Behind our house, the forest slopes down to a narrow valley that Ozarkers would call a “holler”. In some places the hillside is smoothly covered with a carpet of dead leaves and in others it is a jumble of ankle-twisting rocks of every dimension and color. In one particular place the rocks are so

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Great Horned Owls – Giants of the Forest

By Jill Henderson Show Me Oz

Last night, as I stood outside admiring the way the stars danced brightly in the clear dark winter sky,  I heard the unmistakably deep, resonating call of one of the Ozarks most reclusive giants –  the great horned owl.

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Snakes: Friend or Foe?

By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

All summer long Dean and I have been having a serious problem with a mouse in the engine compartment of our car, where it has been tearing up insulation and chewing through wires.  We have repeatedly fished out wads of grass and other nesting materials that the mouse has drug under the hood thinking the engine compartment would make a great winter den.  The damage from the mouse’s nocturnal goings on was beginning to get out of hand, but despite all our efforts we could not catch it, or kill it, or persuade it to leave. Continue reading