6-28-19 blog

While the nursery chores of potting, trimming, weeding, spacing and general cleanup still continues, another aspect of the nursery has ramped up as the Owl Barn has opened with the harvest of sweet corn and tomatoes from Marietta, Ohio. Growers along the Muskingum and Ohio river near the city take advantage of the rich alluvial soil that produces a bountiful harvest of these two vegetables along with other crops. The sweet corn is deliciously fresh as one grower picks the corn at night and delivers it to distributors before 10 a.m. that morning.

Typically, the Owl Barn will switch from the Marietta source to the more local Seiberling Farms in Norton as soon as the sweet corn is ready although with the wet and previously cooler than normal weather, the date of the sweet corn availability will be later than normal with normally usually being mid-July.

Finally the flower planting around the nursery has been finished although it too has been late as we have struggled in the areas of weed control, potting and other chores with the delays due to the constant rain. One thing is for sure and that is with the constant replenishment of our irrigation pond with collected rain water, the excellent quality of water has made growing easy and the plants show their “pleasure” in their vibrant leaf color and rapid growth especially now with more sunshine and some warmer temperatures. The trick now is to keep up with the trimming.

A reprint of our blog from the 4th of July is printed below as it is a timely reminder of the meaning of July 4th as “We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal”, our guaranteed freedoms in the Constitution and our national symbol among many other aspects concerning the founding of the United States.

The Bald Eagle – A Proud National Symbol or a Scourge?

For as long as the American experiment has been going on, the American Bald Eagle has been revered as a symbol of strength and ideals of the United States with this bird of prey portrayed on the Great Seal with spread wings, a clutch of arrows in one set of talons and an olive branch in the other.

Until recently, in practice the Bald Eagle in the wild was not revered. As far back as 1784, Ben Franklin wrote to his daughter lamenting the founding fathers’ choice of the eagle as the national symbol as Franklin preferred the turkey as a more fitting symbol.

The Bald Eagle, only native to North America was nearly hunted to extinction because of its predacious nature. In 1917, the state of Alaska offered a bounty on the birds of fifty cents and later increased it to a dollar so that by 1920, there were 121,000 confirmed kills. Even worse, after World War II came the indiscriminate spraying of synthetic pesticides such as DDT. DDT’s properties of becoming more concentrated as it moved up the food chain caused death and destruction for numerous animals including baby robins as they were fed DDT tainted worms by their mother and in the case of the Bald Eagles, the next generation was lost as the birds sat on their eggs with shells so thin that none would hatch but rather would crack open from the mother eagle’s weight. By 1962, the estimate for the Bald Eagle population was only about 3,000 with most in Alaska.

The fortunes of the bird changed beginning with the September 1962 publication of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring. that brought to the forefront the dangers of the indiscriminate use of synthetic pesticides to humans and wildlife.

In the early 1970’s, the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency became a reality with the signing of the bill by President Nixon. While the E.P.A.’s environmental obligations are diverse, one such mandate is the regulation of the use of synthetic pesticides. Then officially in 1973, Congress banned the use of DDT and in the same year passed the Endangered Species Act that not only protected the Bald Eagles but numerous other species on the brink of extinction. In fact, killing a Bald Eagle is punishable by a $100,000 fine and one year in prison.

As the dangers of DDT dwindled, the eagle slowly began to recover. Even here in Ohio, several nesting pairs of Bald Eagles exist throughout the state including Summit County in the Cuyahoga National Park and even now in Copley Township along the Barberton reservoir.

While everyone can agree that the eagle’s recovery from the brink of extinction is a blessing, the recent exponential rise in the bird’s numbers has once again placed it in the spotlight having to do with its reputation of being a voracious predator. One such case as reported in the January 2017 issue of the New York Times Magazine is that of Georgia farmer Will Harris that raises thousands of free range chickens on his farm. As reported in the Times, at first one eagle came to the farm, then another, followed by another until at last count as many as 80 perched in the trees overlooking the flocks of chickens making the Harris farm the land of E. pluribus unum as far as the Bald Eagle is concerned. Because the eagles are protected not only from hunting but harassment, the chicken carnage mounted from the preying eagles. When farmer Harris sought an eagle depredation permit from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in order to harass the eagles to reduce his losses, he was denied. After several months of wrangling with the agency, Harris finally received his permit and was able to arm himself and employees with Bird Bangers that is able to drive the birds away without hurting so much as a feather on them.

It seems that in some parts of the country today that the Bald Eagle, the proud national symbol has returned as a nemesis as it was once seen in 1920 as a relentless hunter and destroyer of livestock.
Was Ben Franklin right when he wrote to his daughter in 1784: “I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen as the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly.”