I would borrow my mother's cake pans. "Borrow" might not be the right word. I recruited the pans for the greater good. I carried the pans to one of our farm's marshes and filled them with swamp water, aquatic vegetation, tadpoles, snails and aquatic insects for study. My mother knew where her cake pans were. She would let me use them for as long as possible. When it came time to make a cake, she would dump my biotic community into a large-mouthed jar, scrub the pans thoroughly and bake a cake. Her cakes were always tremendous.

The National Eagle Center

The National Eagle Center is a delightful place located in Wabasha, Minn. It was my pleasure to speak there recently.

The Center, situated along the Mississippi River, houses education eagles. Eagles, as are all living creatures, are captivating.

At the Center, I was told the following.

A bald eagle can lift about a third its weight. A female bald eagle in Minnesota weighs 10 to 12 pounds. A male would weigh about a third less. Its crop (a compartment of muscle tissue that birds use to store and soften food before the gizzard processes it) holds 2 to 3 pounds. A bald eagle has 7,000 feathers and its talons are capable of 400 pounds per square inch of pressure. If a bald eagle were placed on the goalposts of a football field, it could read a newspaper on the goalposts at the other end of the field. If it could read. Harriet, the oldest of the Center's bald eagles, is 28.

It has been discovered that the golden eagles that overwinter in that area have become predators of wild turkeys.

Noah was a birder

Genesis 8:6-12 reads, "After 40 days, Noah opened the window he had made in the ark and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. But the dove could find no place to set its feet because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark. He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth. He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him."

Echoes from Loafers' Club

"How are you?"

"I'm getting old. I can't hear. I can't see."

"That's tough."

"It is, but at least I can still drive."

Lessons learned while growing up on mule lake farm

Whenever you have something to say to a cow, say it to her face.

You can tell if a repair bill came from a large dealership or a one-man enterprise. The one-man operation's bill would always have grease or oil on it.

Reel life

As a boy, I used a reel mower. It had no motor. As I pushed the mower, the wheels drove gears that spun a reel holding blades that manicured the grass.

Keith Radel of Faribault said that a reel mower is called that because it takes a real man to push it.

Talk of baseball, politics, dogs and funerals

We had come together for his funeral. He was a good man, one who everyone considered wealthy and a little tightfisted.

As we gathered at the gravesite, one of us asked, "I wonder how much he left?"

Another one of us replied, "All of it."

My neighbor

Doc Splint Eastwood told my neighbor Gizzard that he should sneeze into an elbow to avoid spreading germs. I wish Splint had told Gizzard that he should sneeze into his own elbow.

It's all relative

The man told me that he had just called his aunt. When she answered the phone, he greeted her with, "Hi, this is your favorite nephew."

"Oh, hello, Jimmy," responded his aunt.

The man's name was Kevin. His aunt's second favorite nephew.

The politics of the pines

Don Luben of Fremont, Neb., asked me if I had noticed all the crooked branches on the trees near us.

I looked around at the oaks, maples and evergreens but saw nothing out of the ordinary.

Don added, "They have crooked branches because they're government trees."

AG 101

Bob Donovan of Albert Lea said that he'd heard that it was time to plant corn when the soil feels warm to a bare bottom. If you use this procedure, make sure your neighbor doesn't own a camera with a telephoto lens.

Paul Lynne of Hartland said that he'd heard the same thing as well as the old standby, that corn should be planted when the leaves of the oak tree are as large as squirrel ears.

Mother knows best

I would moan, "I wish it were Saturday."

My mother would respond with, "Don't wish your life away. It goes fast enough without your help."

Smoking in the outhouse

Pat Cavanaugh told the story of when he was a boy who wanted to be a smoker. Pat went to the outhouse and lit a cigarette. He was practicing his smoking when he heard his mother calling him. He threw the cigarette into one of the holes in the outhouse.

Pat admitted that he didn't know what kind of trouble he would have gotten into for smoking but he did know what kind of trouble he got into for burning down the outhouse.

And how was your day?

Josh Byrnes of Osage told me that he was talking on his cell phone while doing some chores. He bumped into an electric fence that shocked him into dropping his cell phone into the cow tank. He dried the phone and it still worked.

Where people get high in Iowa

I told my wife that I had driven down to Hawkeye Point, north of Sibley in Osceola County, the highest point in Iowa. It is 1,670 feet above sea level. My wife asked, "Don't you mean that you drove up to Hawkeye Point?"

Nature notes

A friend asked how long great horned owls live. I recently attended a live bird presentation by the Raptor Center of the University of Minnesota. The presenter showed a great horned owl and related that it could live 10 to 12 years in the wild. She added that only one owlet out of three lives to be a year old. She said that a family of great horned owls could consume up to 10 field mice per day.

Thanks for stopping by

"He who seeks a friend without fault remains without." - Turkish proverb

"Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are part of nature and therefore part of the mystery that we are trying to solve." - Max Planck

Meeting adjourned

Superman has no superpower more powerful than a kind word.

©Al Batt 2010