Nuptial tubercles develop on the upper bill of pelicans when they are 3 to 4 years old. It is a good indicator that they have reached a breeding age.  AL BATT/BLUFF COUNTRY READER
Nuptial tubercles develop on the upper bill of pelicans when they are 3 to 4 years old. It is a good indicator that they have reached a breeding age. AL BATT/BLUFF COUNTRY READER
I stopped at a farmers market last summer. It was rightly called a "farmers market." It's a descriptive phrase, not a possessive one. No apostrophe needed.

I watched people examine fruit and vegetables. We each have a technique. Most folks frown at prospective produce purchases. I can't remember the last time I saw someone smile at an eggplant.

I hold produce near to my ear in case there is something it wants to tell me. Some look at a vegetable as if they'd never seen sweet corn before. Others hold a tomato as though they were thinking of something else. Yet others stare so intently at a green pepper in the hand that I expect them to spout the words of Hamlet, "Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him."

Shakespeare's words are often misquoted as "Alas poor Yorick, I knew him well." The actual quote is, "Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! My gorge rims at it."

That Hamlet could slobber a bib full. Hamlet said this in a graveyard as he looked at the skull of Yorick, a court jester he'd known as a child and for whom he grieved. Still, it might be worth saying it to a watermelon in order to determine its goodness.

Echoes from Loafers' Club

"I fixed your kitchen sink, but I'll need to be paid from the time I left home."

"That seems fair. When did you leave home?"

"When I was 18."

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: if the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, it's because their water bill is higher.

The news from Hartland

Superman punches kitten as witnesses do nothing.

Yesterday's Meals on Wheels Septic Pumping Service opens for business.

Dougie of Dougie's Do-It-Yourself store asks that you kindly refrain from asking any of his employees for help.

Losing the Batt family fortune

You can lose money faster at a casino than you can lose pocket change in a recliner. I visited a casino not long ago, having never bet a cent at such an enterprise. I ended up betting a dollar in a penny slot machine.

A slot machine is a cash redistribution system. It can take a long time to lose a dollar in one, but I managed. I'd be up a few cents, then down a few cents. Like most gamblers, my down overcame my up.

I noticed a couple I knew at the one-armed bandit next to me. In the midst of small talk, I was informed that the husband had recently taken a hearing test. The wife spilled the beans. I asked if his hearing had declined.

The wife replied, "He went from not listening to me, to being unable to listen to me."

Did you know?

Sliced bread sold for the first time in 1928.

Gravity, Iowa, has this motto, "If Gravity goes, we all go."

The United States Postal Service introduced ZIP codes in 1963.

Customer comments

Harvey Berg of Waseca offered this wisdom, "Always get the cage before you get the bird."

Loren Skelton of Missoula, Mont., sees signs reading, "Montana is full."

Terry Sibilrud of Tavares, Fla., said, "It's better to be seen than to be viewed."

Like a bridge over chiropteran water

The Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas, is home to the world's largest urban bat colony. The Mexican free-tailed bats reside beneath the road deck in gaps between the concrete component structures.

They are migratory, spending summers in Austin and winters in Mexico. Between 750,000 and 1.5 million bats live underneath the bridge each summer. The nightly emergence of the bats from underneath the bridge at dusk and their flight across Lady Bird Lake to feed, attracts as many as 100,000 tourists annually.

Each evening, around sunset, the bats emerge like a winged cloud spiraling from the crevices of the bridge. Scouring the countryside in search of food, it's estimated that the bats consume from 10,000 to 30,000 pounds of insects each night.

Weather folklore

When pigs carry sticks, the clouds will play tricks.

If the birds be silent, expect thunder.

Wind from the west, fish bite the best. Wind from the east, fish bite the least. Wind from the north, do not go forth. Wind from the south, blows bait in their mouth.


"What animal is attacking my garden?"

I can't say for sure, but there are clues to look for that might determine the culprit.

Deer leave ragged bites, typically a foot or more above the ground.

Rabbits clip stems cleanly at an angle a few inches above the ground.

Voles make flower bulbs or plant roots disappear. Teeth marks around the base of small trees indicate the presence of voles. Groundhogs leave evidence of mounds of dirt beside burrow entrances. Chipmunks often leave uprooted plants. Squirrels, chipmunks, opossums, birds, raccoons, birds, deer, rats, etc. eat tomatoes. I've owned a dog, chickens, and peafowl that ate them. I tried playing a loud radio in the garden, but not even ABBA songs discouraged the thieves.

"The frogs were croaking loudly in the spring until I walked to the pond. Then they all became quiet. Was it me?"

It was you. Somebody needed to tell you that. And if, by odd chance, it's not you, it's someone very much like you. The male frogs, although talkative, are as all males are, good listeners. And you, my friend, are a hulking giant to them. They hear you coming because you don't pick up your feet. You know how you are. And if they all don't hear you, one might and he becomes silent. The other male frogs, being good listeners, are silent until they figure out what is bothering their buddy. The frogs likely heard a twig snap or felt the earth move. Science has discovered that frogs are sensitive to substrate vibrations and that being males, they're sensitive. Scientists came up with the first part of the previous sentence. I added the second part, because I'm sensitive.

In memory

When I joined the local Audubon chapter long ago, one of the first members I got to know was Edna Aakre. She was amazing. Edna died recently. I never had Edna in the classroom, but she was still one of my favorite teachers. I cherished her friendship and will cherish her memory.

Nature notes

Elaine Seath of Hartland asked if mothballs repel deer. Mothballs are toxic if ingested, their vapors can cause health problems in an enclosed space and they can be dangerous to pets. Mothballs should be used only to kill moths.

According to Clemson University, mothballs don't repel wildlife. A tall exclusion fence works best to deter deer. We try many things to curb deer - perfumed cotton balls, human hair, Irish Spring soap, hairspray, computer discs on wire, rotten eggs, predator urine and fabric softener sheets. Hungry deer aren't easily discouraged.

A University of Nebraska study found mothballs to be the second least effective of 15 repellents tested. Only creosote ranked lower. The top three in effectiveness were a commercial repellent, meat meal containing animal residues and chicken feathers.

Some commercial repellents appear to work, but need to be applied often - especially after rain or heavy dew. Don't use mothballs inside attics, crawl spaces, gardens, trashcans or vehicles.

Placing mothballs in an attic to repel squirrels usually results in a persistent and noxious odor and squirrels.

Meeting adjourned

Laugh when you can, apologize when needed, don't hold grudges and be kind always.

Thanks for stopping by

"The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning." - Mitch Albom

"We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect." -Aldo Leopold


© Al Batt 2013