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Jerry Sullivan's Blog

The lighter side of Reality Chapter 3, Wooly Bears

Category: The back yard | Posted: Thu Oct 13, 2011 5:59 pm

"What do you see?" inquired the mouse, seeing that Mr. Monk was looking through the 'see far' instrument. Made from a black straw and two clear marbles, Mr. Monk was looking into the trees. "Bears" he replied. A scurry of feet and the crashing sounds coming from the closet indicated that Mr. Mouse was now hiding in its farthest recesses. "B..b..b..bears?" stuttered the frightened mouse. "Come out Mr. Mouse." turning aside from the 'see far instrument,' something he found the design for in the wise old owl's book. "Wooly Bears, not big bears. They are putting on their orange and black coats and their parents are sending them out into the world to fend for themselves." Just then a loud sound filled the air as the sky darkened and the grass around the entrance instantly became shorter. Mr Monk knew that the human was riding the big grass collector around the yard. When it was safe Mr Monk watched the tractor for awhile. A swerve brought an exclamation. " Yuck!! that is gross." "What happened?" asked the mouse as he emerged from the closet. " The human just ran over one of the wooly bears. There is green goo all over the place" exaggerating the Wooly Bears demise. "What will winter be like?" the mouse said with a puzzled look on his face. "Lets look in the wise old owl's book, you can look at the pictures and I will read what it says." We can have tea with a grass root salad and sunflower custard for desert." A smile filled Mr Mouses face as the problems on the surface faded away. He set the table and the two friends ate their lunch, in the underground realm a couple of steps away from reality.

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City Slicker Visits a Dairy Farm

Category: Field Trips | Posted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 3:56 am

Nestled within the confines of a local 900 acre state park is a small dairy farm with 150 head of Holsteins. So when a friend called and said "would we like to go to a local farm and see the cowes milked? Welllllllll......Indicated my enthusiasm for the afternoon event. "You would be really like this one," she continued, hoping to capture some interest. Visions of children filling the air with high pitched squeals and screams, falling over one another to see the animals filled my head. My rapidly waining interest was rejuvenated when she gave a brief synopsis of the event. "The cows milk themselves" she said "there are lasers and cameras and a robot." Enough 'technology' peppered the conversion to secure my curiosity and I agreed to the event. The Mrs. always game for an adventure, join the expedition. We soon found ourselves at the farm.

Ride to the farm ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

A few minutes before the starting time, the crowd of small fry was beginning to grow. Their excitement filled the air.

Through the barnyard ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

Follow the Guide ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

As the tour began parental control reduced the exuberance to a manageable roar and the guide, a park worker, began his talk.

Our guide for the event ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

First on the tour was the maternity ward where several ladies were spending their last three weeks before giving birth.

Maternity Ward ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

Cow 101 ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

The food storage was next. The food was rotated and managed with a bulldozer, obviously the cows had never heard of Emily Post. The corn had a gigantic tarp covering the silage trench, one trench was equal to 5 silos. I learned another farm term, haylage. While it sounds like Farmer Brown made this word up as I could not find it in the dictionary, the ever probing eyes of google and wikipedia easily gave an in depth explanation, more than I really needed.

Silage and Haylage ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

Apparently the silage, corn, stalks and leaves are allowed to ferment. As alcohol is a byproduct, the ladies must find the silage yummy.

Yum, Yum, Silage (left), Haylage (right) ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

Group in tow the guide led us into the barn where high-tech milking has come of age. As we stared at the complex equipment we were informed that while the cow in front of us wanted to be milked, for some unknown reason the machine was not working......there were 30 very audible groans.

The Robot Milking Machine ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

Bossy #823 ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

The guide assured us that while we visited the rest of the modern barn facilities he would call farmer Brown and have him investigate the now silent $100,000 piece of high tech equipment.

The entourage filtered through the door into the barn area. The large barn was temperature regulated with sides that rolled up when it was too hot and lowered automatically when nights were cold. The movements of each cow was monitored with smart gates that recognized tags on each cow and would open and close as necessary.

The barn gets explained ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

Ladies only, no bull here ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

Each stall had a mattress for the cows comfort which was cleaned daily. Manure was scraped away without need of human intervention.

What's new in the smart barn ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

The cows moved about the facility as one would move about their own house. Alas, there were no large screen TV's with Animal planet or bull fights from Spain, maybe the next generation of smart barns will have more features.

Welcome to my home!! ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

If a cow wanted her back scratched or her hair cleaned a bovine brush accomplished the task automatically, keeping the cows healthy and happy.

Bovine Brush...A little to the right...aaaah ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

We went on to the 'smart fields' where experiments with corn and various grasses are carried out. The dairy is self maintaining with few supplemental needs.

Everything grown here ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

The nursery was next with some new born heifers. The guide announced that farmer Brown was in the building and was checking the equipment.

Heifers ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

The Pied Piper led us back to the barn and the robot that couldn't.

Farmer Brown to the rescue ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

It's all in the software ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

The robot is ready ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

Inside the farmer explained that after the milk was loaded on to the tanker the robot waited 1 1/2 hours. Cleaning proceeders necessitated the delay.

Farmer Brown (Duffy) explains the process ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

Milking steps ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

With the machine back in operational mode, bossy #832 was allowed to enter the milking stall where her information was recorded and the machine cleaned each nipple before attaching the hose.

The robot attaches the hoses ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

1,2,3,4 ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

Last hose ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

When all the hoses were attached the pumps began and in consort, bossy received a treat of grain till the process was finished.

Ready to milk ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

The machine reversed the order, removing the hoses and again going through the cleaning process. then the automatic control gate opened allowing #832 to return to the barn. Another cow was waiting and the process was again repeated.

The machine milked 6000 pounds of milk a day from the herd. Farmer Brown(actually Farmer Duffy) answered questions and the group left with a better understanding of a totally automated milking system.

Small Dairy Barn ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

We then headed for the locally produced people cream! :-)


Last edited: Thu Jan 26, 2012 1:23 am

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The lighter side of Reality Chapter 2

Category: The back yard | Posted: Sat Sep 24, 2011 4:38 pm

The acorns were starting to drop from the old oak tree, the occasional thud as they landed could be heard in the tunnel home of Mr. C. Monk. The chipmunk could also hear digging not too far away and curiosity was getting the better of him. He chanced a quick peek from the safety of his tunnel entrance. The human was digging up a small bush, the little one near the big blue one. There was a box nearby, he read the label. His curiosity satisfied he quickly scampered back to his living room, the acorn lamps casting a warm glow. Just then, a knock at the door announced that Mr. Mouse was back from one of his tunnel explorations. "Welcome back Mr. Mouse, come in, come in, how was your trip?" Mr Monk inquired. Mr mouse entered and plopped himself down in the soft grass stuffed easy chair. "I found some new tunnels we have never explored" answered the mouse, thinking back to their explorations earlier in the summer. "Anything new here?" the mouse queried. "Yes" the chipmunk replied, "The human is digging up a bush and he is going to send it to Virginia." "Virginia,? How do you know that? Is that on the other side of the hill?" The mouse was noted for asking several questions without waiting for the answers. "Virginia is far away," the chipmunk said, adding,"I read the label."
YOU CAN READ??!! The exclamation echoed in Mr Monk's ear as well as back and forth down the dark tunnels. "Yes Mr. Mouse," replied his friend "I can read and you don't have to shout." "Sorry," the mouse said timidly. "H-h-how?" stammered the surprised mouse. The chipmunk didn't want to tell his friend he went on an adventure without him. "I found some books." knowing Mr. Mouse would loose interest if the subject did not involve food. The books had come from an abandoned wise old owl nest. The thought of going into an owl home, abandoned or otherwise would have terrified the mouse. True to form the mouses's next question was about food. "Did you bake acorn muffins today?" The room was soon filled with the aroma of tea and muffins and the two friends talked into the small hours of the morning in the underground realm, a couple of steps away from reality.

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Adventures from the lighter side of reality.

Category: The back yard | Posted: Sat Jan 22, 2011 9:09 pm

The days were getting colder and the outside activities had come to a close. Winter meant long nights by the crackling fire with a good book. The pantry was full from a summer of gathering and the side chambers stocked to the ceiling with barrels of acorn and sunflower oil for cooking and heating. In the kitchen the smell of fresh acorn muffins filled the air. The underground home of Mr. C. Monk was cozy warm. This was going to be a fine winter thought Mr. Monk as he removed the muffins from the oven. Suddenly a loud noise echoed down the tunnel! It was coming from the entrance. Lamp in paw Mr. Monk quickly headed toward the entrance. Shadows danced along the wall chased by the light of the acorn lamp. He arrived at the entrance to find a mouse running in circles screaming at the top of his voice "OWL!! OWL!! The owl is after me!!" It was all he could do to calm the little fellow down and get him to sit in a chair. "Now Mr. Mouse, I see no owl" said the chipmunk glancing at the entryway above, "and as sure as I am standing here one is not about to fly down that hole. Owls are too fat!!" The mouse sat nervously staring at the dark entrance. "Y-Y-Your sure?" stammered the mouse. "Positive" replied Mr. Monk. "You do, however Mr. Mouse, have a scratch on your back. I will get my first aid kit." The chipmunk disappeared into a side tunnel and soon returned with the kit. "There, Mr. Mouse." said the chipmunk, "Good as new." "Would you like some herb tea and a fresh acorn muffin?" inquired the chipmunk. The mouse was feeling better, "Yes Mr. Monk, that would be splendid." the mouse said relaxing into the chair. The room was soon filled with the aroma of tea and muffins. They spent the rest of the evening comparing experiences with mutual nemeses, cats, owls and hawks. Mr Mouse stayed in Mr. Monks guest room that night. He turned down the acorn lamp. The shadows drifted into the room. Tomorrow would be another day and a new adventure for the new friends in the underground realm, a couple of steps away from reality.

Last edited: Sat Jan 22, 2011 10:15 pm

This blog entry has been viewed 1814 times

Wings of the night, talons of death.

Category: The back yard | Posted: Sun Jan 02, 2011 4:35 am

The owl sat on its favorite limb of an old oak tree, peering down into the yard as the shadows of evening chased away the last rays of sunlight. It was waiting for breakfast to move. In the yard below a mouse was safe and secure in its burrow but security did not appease its hungry stomach. The mouse knew that the birds did not like every seed in the feeder. The ground was littered with rejects. It was getting darker and he mouse was hungry, the mouse moved.
I turned the lights out and stopped by the window to look out into the blackness of the back yard. It took awhile for my eyes to become accustomed to the dark. The outlines of the trees and bushes became more defined; I heard the hoot of an owl. From the trees, a shadow fell off a branch, wings opened. An owl silently glided toward the ground. The mouse munched on the seed as silent wings caused darkness to become darker. Alerted, the mouse sprang for a nearby chipmunk hole, as talons closed.
I watched the owl flap its' wings and return to its perch. It stood silently wrapped in the shadows of night, to look and wait again. The mouse would remain in the hole for a long time. The hunger was gone, replaced by the mixed emotions of fear and safety. I crawled into a warm bed and I drifted off to my own shadows.
In the tree the owl again waited for breakfast to move. The sentinel of the night knew it would not take long.

Last edited: Sun Jan 02, 2011 5:08 am

This blog entry has been viewed 2146 times

EXTRA!! EXTRA!! New discovery shakes the Botanical World!!

Category: The back yard | Posted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 6:38 pm

The pollution from countless sources filled the air over the city. The smoke stacks of industry and the chimneys of homes belched thick clouds of smokey soot. Horses, providing the transportation of the day, meant manure. As the manure dried it was ground into powder by the traffic. Wind lifted the powder into the air to mix with the black coal soot. The filthy cocktail of pollutants found its way into every nook and cranny of London, England in the early 1800's.

The morning light entered the study from a window overlooking the fern garden. The ferns barely eked out an existence in the smog filled air of 1829 London. The polluted air sometimes referred to as "pea soup fog" was in no small way responsible for the sickly looking ferns. Seated at his desk in the study was Dr. Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward, logging the results if his latest findings in his notebook. Dr Ward had a passion for entomology and his most recent discovery, a healthy thriving fern. Unlike its cousins in the garden, this fern was protected by a glass bell jar intended to restrain the flight of a moth he was studying. The unintended result provided Dr. Ward with an idea that would shake the botanical world to its core. The fern, though small, exhibited none of the maladies that routinely befell others not so protected. Dr. Ward experimented with self-contained enclosures for several more years. His efforts would provide enough support for a revolutionary trip to far off Australia. In the summer of 1833 he sent two of his specially designed enclosures with plantings of grass and ferns to Sydney, Australia. After a long and perilous trip they arrived safely. The subsequent return trip, several months later, bore delicate ferns on a seemingly impossible journey. One that had never been successfully completed before. A new era for Botany began as the precious cargo sailed into London harbor in February of 1835. The years subsequent found "Wardian Cases," as they were called, traveling the world with rare tropical plants destined for eagerly waiting gardens. Today, thanks to Dr. Ward's accidental discovery, the descendants of those specimens, once thought impossible to transport, add pleasure to our our gardens and homes. The cases, now called terrariums. provide enthusiasts with hours of relaxation and enjoyment. Put your ear to one, you can almost hear the exotic sounds of some far off tropical jungle. :-)

Last edited: Sat Dec 17, 2011 4:39 am

This blog entry has been viewed 2251 times

Sentenced to Life in Prison

Category: The back yard | Posted: Tue Dec 14, 2010 6:29 pm

A trip to the local nursery is always an exciting adventure. Endless possibilities line the aisles. Choosing is difficult. On one such occasion a flower perked its head above the other plants as if to say "Me! Me! Pick me." Little did we know. So home the flower went along with the other selections we made that day.
We picked a spot for the new flower and enjoyed its unusual shape for the rest of the blooming period. As with most perennials, its greenery faded into the background as other blooming flowers attracted our attention. Fall and winter put the garden to sleep for that year.

The first few warm days of the following spring were like a magnet drawing us outside to show off what emerged from the slumber of winter. The new plant along with a similar plant four feet away had poked their heads above the surface. Well, I thought, I 'll plant the new arrival with the original plant. As I dug it up, it's source also appeared, a runner. Closer inspection revealed 10 more plants and more runners radiating from the parent plant. I gently dug up the spider web of runners and the parent. Now I had enough Gooseneck Loosestrife to fill 6 additional pots and the original plant was put back into a even larger pot. I gave away 2 pots along with the warning of the plants appetite for domination of the backyard. 12 years have passed, the towering green walls of their prisons remain unchallenged, the loosestrife have never escaped. An ever vigilant eye is required. Still, there is the ever-present danger that, someday......

Grower Beware!! Gooseneck Loosestrife is a lovely plant, if you don't mind being a warden.

Last edited: Sun May 12, 2013 11:42 pm

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"Crash": The not so graceful Titmouse.

Category: The back yard | Posted: Sat Dec 11, 2010 4:37 pm

Most of us take for granted the abilities of our feathered friends. After all, the lessons of spring given by coaxing parents lend to graceful winged flights of summer. At least that's what one expects.

The family of Titmice were like most, flying from branch to branch as they approached the feeder. Mom and dad leading the three hatchlings on a foraging trip to our backyard. It looked as if all was going to plan until one of the three failed to land on the rim, flapping furiously at the feeders edge. The aborted landing resulted in a return to a nearby branch without the usual seed. While the others were busy opening their sunflower rewards the youngster made another try for the morning meal. His wings would open too late and he bounced off the feeder unable to grab the edge. Again and again he tried, no luck. Clearly this Titmouse had not mastered the technique of landing on the feeder. His siblings and cousins landed and took their time looking over the menu rejecting some seeds before choosing their meal. At best he could grab a rejected seed while flapping, a good seed was out of the question. "Crash" could land on a branch but not the feeder.

Air traffic control was needed, otherwise, Crash was not going to have a full stomach. Since landing a branch was no problem I attached a one to the feeder. With the addition of feeder's new feature, identification of Crash became tenuous at best. The days grew longer as the Summer solstice neared. During one of the feeder refills I did not replace the branch. I watched. Sure enough, out of the flock of Titmice a flurry of beating wings singled out Crash. More practice landings were needed. The stick was re-installed. Day by day the Summer rolled on. The birds continued to use the branch. Once again I removed the landing aid and waited. Now only one bird had a somewhat unorthodox landing. Crash could land on the feeder with a few extra flaps. The branch was no longer needed. With the advent of Fall Crash has now melted into the periodic flocks of Chickadees, Nuthatches and Titmice. All the birds now read the menu before choosing their seed. Among them an extra happy Titmouse with a choice meal. :-)

Last edited: Sat Dec 11, 2010 4:57 pm

This blog entry has been viewed 1090 times

Home Sweet Home....Skunk home that is.

Category: The back yard | Posted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 5:18 pm

During a recent trip to our toolshed when finishing the last of the fall chores, my nose was greeted by the latest backyard creature to move in for the winter. We did not have to meet face to face nor did it provide any references from previous places it occupied. Pepe le Pew(cartoon skunk) just pushed aside the token board blocking access to the below ground hole that has been home to many creatures. Since building the toolshed opossums, ground hogs, skunks(Pepe is not the first) and even a badger have at one time or another resided in its dark recesses. The neighbors cat takes shelter during summer rain storms and it makes a great snow free stopover for feline yard-prowling in the winter. Now that the skunk has moved in other animals tend to stay away. There goes the neighborhood!!

With the cold temperatures, activity in the back yard is at a minimum. Our paths are unlikely to cross. This is good. After all Mephitis Mephitis needs a place to hang its hat. At least for the winter. Springtime will be a different story. And another blog entry. Can you hear that? I think I hear snoring.....Zzzzzzzz Zzzzzzzzz

This blog entry has been viewed 1139 times

How to find an ant's home. A back yard science experiment.

Category: The back yard | Posted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 5:51 am

This is something you want to try when no one is watching. Unless of course, others around you are use to you doing strange things and dismiss your actions as those of a crazed lunatic.

We have all seen them. The struggling ant with the oversized load, dragging it seemingly everywhere in the singleminded pursuit of bringing home some food. If you watch long enough as the ant meanders across grass and twig, you will realize whatever you were doing prior was more important and loose interest in the ant's perseverance. But what if, as a backyard experiment, you wanted to see if you could watch the ant end its long tireless journey home. Oh.....the grass may grow faster.... Wait! Wait! This will take, if done correctly, just a few minutes. The rewards are many....well will have done what few if any have ever done. And in some cases you will have a new use for a dead mosquito. You need a 1. pole or broomstick. 2 an ant. Not usually a problem, except in Antarctica (no ants) 3. food the ant wants to take home. 4. Notebook or clipboard with paper.

Directions: Find an ant. When found, you have to know what the ant wants for dinner. For some ants you need something sweet, for others you will now know what to do with the mosquito you just killed as it was trying to provide food for its young. To an ant a dead mosquito does not go unnoticed. Give the ant the food. Watch the ant for a moment and observe the general direction of travel. This is your all important vector of travel. The ant's arduous journey home with the prize food can be made simpler with the broomstick. Place the broomstick on the vector direction to create an easy path for ant to take. When the ant is on the stick or pole, pick the pole up, walk slowly along the vector until the ant turns around on the pole. Stop! Rotate the pole 90 degrees to the vector see if the ant moves in either direction, if so walk slowly on the new vector till the ant turns around. Stop. At this point the ant should want off the pole or broomstick. Put the pole down. Let the ant off. If done correctly the ant should be about a foot or less from home.

If no one spotted you doing this, you are safe to pursue a more productive task. If someone saw you tell them you are doing an Entomology experiment. Grab the notebook or clipboard and start writing. Mumble something about the vector analysis of Tapinoma Sessile (a common house ant).

Have fun. :-)

Last edited: Thu Dec 16, 2010 12:24 am

This blog entry has been viewed 1345 times

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