Bird list & natural events, February 2014

Well, wasn’t February fun? Temperatures were seriously cold for all but one brief warmup, the month averaging a good ten degrees below average. Although snowfall was above average due to one major storm, moisture totals were about half average for the second straight month. After the summer of 2012, it makes us nervous to head into a growing season with the ground already abnormally dry. The beginning of March, with record-cold temperatures, is not boding well for getting the CSA off to an early start. Despite all this, we were able to spend a lot of time outdoors this month, as cold & dry conditions are generally great for getting winter logging work done, and were able to observe a lot of interesting bird and wildlife activity. Continue reading

Bird list & natural events, December 2013

December felt like winter, with mostly below-average temperatures and several winter storms that kept us inside doing much-needed office and housework. The significant temperatures swings related to this month’s storms (64ºF to 7ºF, 58ºF to 1ºF) got us thinking about which months in Missouri have the widest possible range of temperatures, which produced an interesting result: Continue reading

Bird list & natural events, November 2013

November was a dry & cool month, with about half the average precipitation and average temperatures below normal. It was a pretty month, with fairly stable weather and lingering fall colors, another in our string of very nice months this fall. We somehow managed to take a few nice photos during the month, despite the intense busy-ness involved in wrapping up the CSA year, hosting Thanksgiving, and myriad other demands on our time. Continue reading

Bird list & natural events, September 2013

September was extraordinarily busy, but also mostly glorious on the weather front. Temperatures were stable to slightly warm, putting off any threat of early and unwanted frost. Though it started as dry as previous months, we finally started receiving meaningful rainfall and ended up above average for the first time since May (4.46″, over the 3.87″ average at the Columbia gage). It’s a measure of just how dry things were, that after receiving 2.76″ overnight in mid-September, our stream never flowed and there were virtually no puddles on the farm. The parched soil and vegetation sucked all the water up as fast as it fell. But this month as a whole positioned us for a lovely fall. Continue reading

Bird list & other natural events, August 2013

August was our third dry month in a row, and with the rising heat by the end of the month it really began to feel like a flashback to last year’s brutal summer. Overall it was a remarkably stable month in terms of weather; very little variation in temperature, few notable weather systems: it was like farming in California, for better and for worse. The days just quietly passed by, crops grew like crazy, and the natural world puttered along. Horseflies grew really intense toward the end of the month, with Joanna killing 42 in one evening’s session of field work, and Eric multiple times killing 4 in one blow on the pigs’ backs. Continue reading

Bird list & other natural events, July 2013

This July really ought to be discussed in two parts. The first 3 weeks or so, it was seasonal to warm and really dry: we only recorded 0.25″ of rain through July 20. That’s worse than the equivalent period in July 2012, in the midst of the brutal drought. We were getting really worried about a growing repeat of that year, especially given the less than two inches recorded in all of June.  As we noted in last month’s natural post, “With some reasonable rain soon, we could be primed for a nice summer”. It took another three weeks, but then two and a half inches in the last ten days turned things around and got us headed into August with wonderfully seasonal to cool temperatures. All in all, we’ll look back on this month with fondness, now that we know how it ends. Still, only 2.71″ total compared to a monthly average of 4.37″ means we remain in a dry spell that could quickly turn problematic again. Continue reading

Bird list & other natural events, June 2013

This June was a generally pleasant month, with stable seasonal temperatures and a reasonable hot spell toward the end. It’s been quite dry, with only 1.89″ of rain recorded on the farm, compared to a monthly average for Columbia of 4.47″. Even that total is misleading, since much of that rain came in light, isolated showers, which didn’t really soak in before the intense sun burned it off. Only twice did we receive more than 0.25″ at a time. This dryness has been good in the short term, counteracting the cold wet spring, but it feels like an approaching tipping point. If it stays this dry here, we’ll start entering drought concerns again. With some reasonable rain soon, we could be primed for a nice summer. While crop pests haven’t been a major problem, lots of human pests like ticks, chiggers, mosquitoes, deer flies, horse flies, and more have been a constant source of frustration. Read on for a photo essay of interesting wildlife and the monthly bird list. Continue reading

Bird list & other natural events, May 2013

Having summarized last month as “We could write a novel about how frustrating April’s weather was“, we’re now working on a Tolkien epic of meteorological frustration for May. With a total recorded rainfall of exactly 12.00″ and just over 7″ in the final week, compared to an average monthly total of 4.98” for Columbia, this aspect of the last part of the month was miserable. We had our last spring frost on the morning of May 12, which is relatively late for us, though we have seen mid-May frosts before. However, it was a great birding month, with all sorts of interesting species moving through and the late spring leaf-out providing better viewing conditions. We were able to take numerous mushroom-hunting walks in the woods (with limited success) and otherwise generally enjoyed the natural-history part of the farm even as the rains refused to stop. Read on for some interesting photos and a massive bird list. Continue reading