A cedar waxwing and a robin find a perch in a nearby tree as they await spring to arrive.
A cedar waxwing and a robin find a perch in a nearby tree as they await spring to arrive.
Betty Morstad of Albert Lea grew up on a farm. As a girl, one of her jobs was to feed the cows. She gave them a special treat, a mixture of ground feed from a couple of five-gallon buckets. The cows loved the stuff.

One day, the cows got out of the pasture and onto the road. The men in the family scurried about, ready to pursue the cattle on foot and chase them back home. They groused a bit as it was during a particularly busy time on the farm.

Betty grabbed the five-gallon buckets, banged them together, and the cows came home.

Echoes from the Loafers' Club Meeting

I slipped and fell while ice fishing.

Did the other fishermen laugh?

No, but the ice made a couple of cracks.

Driving by the Bruces

I have two wonderful neighbors - both named Bruce - who live across the road from each other. Whenever I pass their driveways, thoughts occur to me, such as: there are few more beautiful winter sights than a plowed road.

The news from Hartland

Building contractor specializing in tree houses for the elderly declares bankruptcy.

Gourmet broth maker becomes bouillionaire.

Study finds that seismology is on shaky ground.

Cafe chronicles

I sat in the "come as you are" section. I ordered a steak as a birthday present to myself. The waitress brought a steak the size of Wyoming. I gave it a look. It reminded me of a Chihuahua that once kept me company. The neighbor had 12 Great Danes. My young son called them deer. The Chihuahua looked at them with that "What is that?" look. I gave that look to a steak bigger than its plate.

Orange they nice

The blizzard caused a school bus ahead of me to stop, back up, turn around and head south in the northbound lane of the freeway. The bus carried the school's name. Thanks to consolidation, the smaller the school, the longer its name.

I rode a school bus every day. I recall the day that I took a green snake to school for show-and-tell. I carried it in a box with holes punched in it so the snake could have all the air it needed. I'd handwritten "snake" on the side of the box in burnt umber crayon. Arriving at school, I gave the box a slight motivational shake before showing its contents to my teacher.

I've grown accustomed to your faith

People talk about giving things up for Lent. Some people claim to be giving up giving up things for Lent. When I was a lad, we had meatless Fridays in the school cafeteria. We were served salmon sandwiches or fish sticks every Friday. It was a penance aimed at Catholics, but it crossed all lines of religious beliefs. We noticed the absence of meat, but in those days, there was separation between church and steak.


Years ago, I read "The Metamorphosis" by Franz Kafka. It was a story of a traveling salesman, Gregor Samsa, who awoke to find himself transformed into a monstrous insect-like creature, not necessarily a cockroach. Man is capable of turning into other things. Simon and Garfunkel sang about a man who turned into a sandwich. In "The Boxer," the song began, "I am just a poor boy."

Customer comments

Ric McArthur of Morpeth, Ontario, wrote, "Never lend anything you can't afford to lose."

Paul Piper of Minneapolis said that while in college, he ate heavily-buttered and toasted, ketchup sandwiches.

Did you know?

In Minnesota, 16 percent of adults smoke, ranging from a low of seven percent in Nicollet County to a high of 35 percent in Mahnomen County.

Minnesota ranks fourth and Iowa 10th in a Gallup survey, the Well-Being Index. The Index gave perspectives on 55 unique measures of well-being. North Dakota rated number one.

Minnesota ranked 11th for per capita personal income and Iowa 22nd, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Florida records more lightning strikes than any other state.

Wrigley Field is older than the Hoover Dam.

Katie Francis, a sixth-grade student from Oklahoma City, sold 18,107 boxes of Girl Scout cookies in seven weeks. Her secret was time, commitment and asking everyone to buy. She sold 12,428 boxes last year.

Nature notes

"Last summer, I drove many miles with a lady beetle clinging to my car's windshield. How did it do that?" The pads on its feet create surface tension. It's akin to placing wet paper on a table. Dry paper would be easy to lift, but wet paper clings to the table.

Nature by the yard

The sweet smell held echoes of rain.

Red-winged blackbirds sang, happy to be somewhere.

The yard Argus, a blue jay, called in protest.

Birds give a voice to nature.

Alexander Pope wrote, "Hear how the birds, on every blooming spray, with joyous music wake the dawning day."


Harlan Lutteke of Alden asked how he might identify a coyote. Coyotes are often mistaken for medium-sized domestic dogs. The fur varies in color from light brown to gray. A coyote has long ears, a long, pointed face and a bushy black-tipped tail that it holds low and pointed to the ground. Coyotes usually only hold their tails horizontally when displaying signs of aggression.

Due to their thick coat, coyotes tend to look larger than they actually are. Some coyotes could be confused with foxes. Foxes run with their tails held straight out, while coyotes run with their tails pointed towards the ground.

Harlan Lutteke also asked how many babies a raccoon has. The mating season is February and March, and the male raccoon travels long distances to mate with as many females as possible. The females find shelter in hollow trees or dens like groundhog burrows, culverts, chimneys or under buildings. After a 63-day gestation period, the female gives birth to two to six young. Once they reach four to six months of age, young raccoons live on their own.

"What preys upon bald eagles?" There are several threats to eagles and their young. Eagles fly into utility wires and are hit by automobiles. Predators such as raccoons or great-horned owls could get into the nest and kill the young. Lead in their food could kill eagles

"What do robins eat when there are no earthworms?" They feed on crabapples, mountain ash berries, acorns, apples, cherries, dogwood fruit, poison ivy berries, honeysuckle, juniper, mulberry, pyracantha, serviceberry, sumac, woodbine berries, grapes, fruit from the Virginia creeper, hawthorn (thornapples), hackberries and viburnum (highbush cranberry). You could try feeding a robin by putting out a tray of chopped apples, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, raisins, grapes or cherries on the ground. There is a good chance that the starlings will beat the robins to the grub. Robins might also eat suet, mealworms and peanuts. This spring, cedar waxwings and American robins have found our hawthorn tree to be a fine eatery.

"Should I paint a birdhouse?" While cedar houses are durable and don't require painting, pine or plywood birdhouses can be made more weatherproof and durable with paint. Birds aren't picky about color, but choose natural, camouflaged colors such as gray, dull green, brown or tan to blend into its environment. Stay away from black or dark colors that absorb heat. Use nontoxic stains or varnishes. Use water-based latex paint and avoid lead-based or creosote paints that may be toxic. Consider alternative, eco-friendly paints or opt for natural stains rather than paints. Perches aren't needed or advised.

Nature lessons

Argos was a giant in Greek mythology who had 100 eyes, no more than two of which were closed at the same time. That made him an excellent sentry. When he was killed by Hermes, the goddess Hera gave his eyes to her favorite bird, the peacock.

Thanks for stopping by

"Let the water teem with living creatures and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky." - Genesis 1:20

"Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing." - Thomas Jefferson.


Meeting adjourned

A kind thought unexpressed is like a breath not taken.

© Al Batt 2014