Monthly Archives: April 2011

Spring snow melt

New data collected by the Iowa Daily Erosion Project (IDEP) strongly suggests that the vast crop acreage within the state is eroding at rates far greater than USDA estimated. The IDEP data is derived from new modeling techniques that for the first time estimate the soil lost to individual storm events.  Topographic and land use information captures the damage caused by high impact events.  Environmental Working Group concluded that the USDA underestimated the erosion rate on more than 10 million acres of Iowa’s farmland.  Here’s the site that updates the erosion maps daily

Click here for more info

Bald Eagle watching over the farm

The Eagle’s Spirit

This past week we’ve enjoyed watching the live internet stream of the eagles nest at the Decorah Trout Hatchery.  The eaglets hatched and the parents had a rabbit along with a collection of small birds to feed them.  Here in north east Iowa  bald eagles are prevalent.  All winter there are a pair of eagles at our farm.  In the spring they relocate to their nest along the Turkey River.  They hunt in our area throughout the year.  As a result, we’ve had to alter our plans during the hatching and farrowing season.

Our sows use to farrow in the pasture.  Between the owls hunting at night, the eagles by day, we were loosing piglets.   Farrowing later in the spring is safer for the piglets.  The bald eagles don’t travel far when their eaglets are very young, instead they hunt closer to their nesting areas.  After ten days the shoats (piglets are called shoats) are too large for predatory birds to carry off.  We have great respect for the bald eagles.  It’s both fascinating and thrilling to see them up close.

A couple of years ago Keith and Cookie were fortunate observers of a ceremony to release a bald eagle back into the wild.  The eagle had been caught in a net, injured, and rehabilitated.  This event was in Blue Mound, Wisconsin, along the banks of the Wisconsin River.  There was a crowd of spectators (mostly boy scouts), a DNR agent. Two Native Americans (father and son) were performing a ceremony to release the eagle back into the wild.  The son explained that his father would be speaking to the Great Spirit and the spirit of the eagle.  His song would unite the soul of the bird with the Great Spirit.  As the Native American elder began singing the crowd became silent.  The eagle, which had been agitated and restless, stopped his movements and focused intensely on the singer.  As the song progressed the bird never diverted his gaze. The DNR agent removed the leather straps that tethered the eagle to her arm.  Now, completely free, the bird remained still and focused.  After several minutes the song ended. Remaining still for a moment longer, the eagle shifted his gaze, then lifted into the sky.  He flew across the river, and alighted into a tree branch on the river’s edge.

For a brief moment in time Keith and Cookie were privileged witnesses to a melding of two spirits.  Our family has a story to pass along; the story of a regal Native American who joined the spirit of heaven and earth and through his song became the conduit for both.

      “I am tired of fighting.  Our chiefs are killed. Looking Glass is dead. Toohoolhoolzote is dead.  The old men are all dead. It is the young men who say “Yes” or “No”. He who led the young men (Olikut) is dead. It is cold, and we have no blankets. The little children are freezing to death.  I want to have time to look for my children, and see how many of them I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead. Hear me my chiefs! I am tired. My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever”.  –Chief Joseph (Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt) speech at Bears Paw Battle Oct. 5, 1877

The way that Native Americans were treated is a shameful chapter in American history.     During the plains wars the soldiers justified their actions claiming the Indians were “heathens”.  This couldn’t have been further from the truth. For years the polluting of our fields and waterways were abusive to wildlife. Thankfully the use of some of those pollutants has been eradicated.  Sadly, we may discover too late the harmful effects and the full spectrum of disorder that today’s defoliants/herbicides has caused.  The proponents of factory farming insist that organic practices aren’t practical for feeding the world.  If one's actions require justification perhaps one isn’t acting “justifiably”.

To view theBald Eagle on her nest here’s the live stream


©Glenda Plozay, Forest Hill Farm Products,LLC