Birding day off

The first part of March was rough in some ways. The weather is certainly a mixed blessing and has been wearing us out; Daylight Savings Time messes with us too. We got a call from Trey at Red & Moe, one of our best restaurant customers, to say they’d be closing soon and thus wouldn’t be buying from us anymore (though we’ve since had better news). I fell through the prep shed’s rafters while working; it was my own fault for misplacing a foot and no harm was done (I have good reflexes), but was a harsh reminder that even a moment’s inattention could change everything. Joanna has been slaving away at organic paperwork, finishing just in time to get started on taxes, both of which tend to make us very cynical about the world given how much time and money is wasted on such needlessly complicated bureaucracy. We discovered that voles had eaten our entire remaining stock of in-ground overwintered parsnips and jerusalem artichokes, gutting a hoped-for March CSA distribution that wasn’t promised but would still have been nice to achieve. The continued heat made us worry about overwintered greens like spinach and kale bolting before we could get them to members. So when we realized we hadn’t taken a real day off since late January, we decided it was past time to do so and spent a warm, sunny Tuesday enjoying the Missouri outdoors on our own terms.First thing in the morning, we headed for Davisdale Conservation Area to do some hiking & birding. On the way we stopped by our friends at Goatsbeard Farm to drop off a load of firewood and to visit briefly, as we don’t see each other often enough. Then we spent the morning exploring the bottomland forests and ridgeline meadows of Davisdale, where the birds were quite active and diverse, especially the flocks of sparrows moving through the grasslands. A particular highlight of the 20 species we noted was a great view of a Red-Headed Woodpecker, a beautiful bird we almost never see on our farm.

Around midday we headed for Eagle Bluffs CA in the Missouri River bottoms, our favorite birding spot (you can tell this was a few weeks ago by how brown everything still is). We shared a lunch spot along the river with snakes emerging from a hibernaculum; the very active individuals were fun to watch exploring in the warm sun. Lunch was a hearty sandwich of fresh-baked bread with our smoked pork, aged cheese, spinach, and green tomato relish.The bird diversity & numbers here weren’t quite as good as we’d hoped, though we still recorded 30 species. Our guess is that the continued warm weather has everything on the move during the day. Highlights included Pelicans riding thermals, a Harrier cruising the fields, and both Blue- and Green-Winged Teal, one of the prettiest ducks around. On the way out, we admired the usual spring crop of brilliant henbit/deadnettle in the nearby fields; the camera doesn’t do justice to the sun-drenched color of these fields this time of year.We finished the evening with a relaxing meal at Sycamore, celebrating the fact that ten years ago (the next day) we’d met for the first time. Sycamore also catered our on-farm wedding years ago, and was thus a natural choice for this. Having arranged for a worker to do evening animal chores, we were free to reminisce about our early years together, before and after dating, and all the changes and choices we never saw coming. A day like this helps remind us why we love living in Missouri, and each other, and why we work so hard to maintain the life together we value so much.

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