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Saturday, May 21, 2016

A Quiet Saturday Afternoon Before the Libertarian Convention

Bow swings in the Outer Pen While the Mowers Are Mowing
Things have been growing and blooming outside, even as my mind has been more on politics than botany. By the mailbox, the wild roses blossomed and twined until it was almost impossible to open.

I think this has been an unusually fertile year, because never before was the mailbox totally engulfed by roses.

It was so pretty that I did not dare disturb it. But then a couple of days after I took that picture all the blossoms and leaves on that rosebush mysteriously died, while the rosebushes all around it on my property continue to thrive. My current theory is that a government agent -- the postman possibly -- took it upon himself to protect access to the mailbox and sprayed weed killer on the roses. In hindsight, maybe I should have trimmed the bush. Because it's dying now.

A wildflower in my woods

However, I had this momentary fantasy when I saw the rosebush twined around the mailbox -- something out of sleeping beauty -- that if only I allowed  everything to grow wild around here, maybe we would be left alone by the government, because no one could penetrate the thorns of the wild rose bush.

A daisy with a ladybug in my pasture
Of course, I can't let everything grow wild , and today the mowers came. And as usual, Bow did not like it. But when I went to mow using my reel mower in the backyard, he contented himself with swinging vigorously on his swing, instead of displaying at the mowers.

And after the mowers left, we had a very quiet Saturday afternoon together.

In two days, I take off on the long drive for the Libertarian National Convention. Lawrence will be here with  Bow. I have paid half his fee in advance and will pay the other on my return. If you would like to contribute, there is still time.

I am doing this to help Austin Petersen become president so he can take over the government, so it can leave us alone! That should be more effective than surrounding my house with an impenetrable wall made of wild roses -- don't you think?

Monday, May 16, 2016

Leaving the Nest is Hard

A lot has happened here since the last time I reported in. We have had a hail storm and casualties and empty nests and more Pickle Ice. Happy things and sad things intermingled, as it happens in real life. Because real life is not a Disney movie, and not every sparrow is watched over by an Unseen Hand.

Here is a glimpse at the four baby robins the last time I saw all four in the nest.

There was a hail storm on Wednesday night or more accurately in the wee hours early on Thursday, and Bow woke up the household with his howling and displaying against the gods of the storm. In the morning, when I checked on the the nest, it was lopsided, the rosebush had been bent over by the winds, and there was one baby bird on the ground that I saw right away.

Then later I saw that there was also another baby robin on its own, standing on the ground.

It was too early for them to fledge,  because they normally would do that at thirteen days, and they were only nine days old at the time. However, when baby robins do fledge, they don't exactly fly away. They jump out of the nest, flapping their wings inefficiently and still have to be fed and watched over by their parents. I learned this by looking it up, as I did not know anything about it at the time.

Two baby robins on the ground after the storm
Of the two baby birds in the picture above, the one in the background died of injuries from the fall. The one in the foreground survived the fall intact and I later saw it on the lawn being fed by its mother. This does not necessarily mean it will survive to adulthood, but at least it has a chance. But there are predators about, and a bird that cannot fly is especially vulnerable to snakes.

On Thurday afternoon, Bow's friends came by with the bananas as usual, and she also brought him issues of the Missouri Conservationist and some more Pickle Ice as a present.

As Bow's friend was leaving, she saw a young rat snake on the prowl and alerted me to its presence. I came out with my walking stick and a tupperware container, to see if I could relocate the snake to a place where it would not go after the baby robins. But the snake ran away from me and disappeared by the tulip tree, which means it could have gone back later for the birds. However, I can safely report that much later that day I saw the healthy baby bird being fed by its mother on the lawn, and the one who died I disposed of uneaten by snakes.

The remaining two baby robins in the lopsided nest

 And this left two baby robins still in the nest by my door, somehow hanging on in  a very lopsided rosebush.

Two days after the storm, they were still in there, being fed by their parents and thriving and growing. And then yesterday morning, when I went out to check on them, I saw one of the nestlings perched on the edge of the nest, and then it ventured forth beyond into the branches of the rosebush.

It was still crying to be fed, but hardly the helpless little baby it used to be.

I had other things to do that day, such as writing articles about Austin Petersen, so I did not actually see the remaining robins taking off. But that afternoon, the nest was empty.

There was no sign of the baby robins anywhere around there, but the mother seemed to have a message for me.

She seemed to be saying "My little ones are grown." Or anyway, that's what I thought at the time. And not expecting to see the newly flown robins, I went on a long walk. On my walk, I saw a butterly in the grass by the fence.

I think it was a Little Wood Satyr Butterfly.

Little Wood Satyr Butterfly
As I continued along my walk, in the grass by the barn, I saw something quite familiar. It was one of the baby robins, just hopping along by itself.

I followed it and saw it take cover in the tall grass of the pasture.

When they leave the nest they cannot fly, but apparently these baby robins can walk quite a distance. Hopefully the parents are still watching over them and feeding them until their wings are strong enough to fly. Leaving the nest is a much more gradual process than we have been led to believe!

So this is what has happened this past week. Time flies so fast, Soon I must leave for the Libertarian National Convention. And Lawrence will be spending time with Bow.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Flying Away: One Nest Empty, One to Go

Yesterday was Mother's Day. Each of my children told me they loved me in a different way. Bow's version was: "Don't go to Florida."

 "Why not Bow?"    -- כי דוד אוהב את אמא - "Because [a] guy loves Mommy." When Bow wants to make himself seem very grownup, he refers to himself as "a guy." It's an odd usage that he perfected himself.

"But I have to go, Bow, to fight for our rights."

Bow loves Lawrence, too, and he will be fine in my absence. But I do need to pay Lawrence for his time. so that is where your help comes in. Thank you to everybody who has chipped in so far! We have had lots of donations, but we still need more. So if you haven't donated, because you thought it was a lost cause, now is a good time to add a little to the pot. Every little bit helps!

The great news is that I am a confirmed delegate from the State of Missouri to the Libertarian National Convention! This means that I get  a real vote, not one out of billions, but one out of a little over a  thousand. The Libertarian Party is small, which means each delegate's vote counts a great deal. I am helping to choose the third party candidate who in the general election will be the only other real choice besides Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. I want it to be Austin Petersen, I believe he would have the best chance to win, and what's more, I support him on principle. He is the only one who understands that the legitimate function of the government is to uphold our right to be left alone. Freedom of association means the right to say no.

On Friday, there was a choir concert in which my daughter participated. I baked brownies for the choir bake sale. Bow licked the bowl. And as I was baking, I was thinking about how personal the process of baking is, and how important it is that I not ever be forced to bake to support any cause that goes against my principles. In a free country, how could that happen? But as far as I know, Austin Petersen is the only candidate who understands this. Gary Johnson doesn't. Hillary Clinton doesn't. And I would not count on Trump to do anything but toot his own horn.

My daughter took me out to an early Mother's Day dinner on Saturday. But I had a light dinner with Bow beforehand. I asked Bow if he wanted me to get the food ready and he said: כן וגם שתיה "Yes, and also drink." So I fixed him a special pre-Mother's Day drink: Pomegranate juice mixed with club soda. He really enjoyed that!

My daughter drove me to Rolla for dinner. She is almost grown up and almost ready to leave the nest. That's what happened to the fledglings in the nest by the fence, you know. They flew away, and now the nest is empty. Here is the last picture I have of them still in that nest.

Fledgling in Nest by the Fence -- Last Time I Saw Him There

Note that not only is the mouth wide open, but so is the eye. They come into the world with eyes glued shut. But when the eyes are wide open, you know that soon they will fly away.

As I approached the empty nest by the fence on Saturday, I was greeted by what looked like a very young robin.

Do the two robins from the nest by the fence remember me? Are they tweeting to me, "Look, we are all grown up!"

In the nest by my door, the baby robins are growing feathers and starting to open their eyes. Soon they will fly away, too. And just as the robins are growing and changing, the rosebuds on the bush that holds the nest are also in full bloom.

Yesterday, the baby robins in the rose bush looked like this.

And this morning, this is the sight that greeted me.

Can you see that the eyes are starting to open? It won't be long before they all fly away! But I am so happy that I have gotten to see this, and when the last nest is empty, I will be getting ready to go to Florida to fight the good fight!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Pickle Ice

Bow has a very good friend that he sees once a week. She comes and brings him his bananas. And sometimes she brings him magazines to read, too. It's from her that he receives those issues of the Missouri Conservationist. Yesterday, she brought Bow a very special treat: Pickle Ice.

Bow trying to figure out how to eat Pickle Ice
Now, I had never seen Pickle Ice before, and neither had Bow. But he was very curious. At dinner, he asked for the Pickle Ice first. But he didn't call it Pickle Ice. He called it מתנה. "Present". Because Bow knew that the Pickle Ice was a special gift from his friend.

Eating Pickle Ice is not easy. It is a tube of frozen pickle juice that you are supposed to squeeze to get it to slide little by little into your mouth. But if the tube isn't quite frozen enough, this can pose difficulties.

I helped Bow get the hang of squeezing the tube, and for a while that worked pretty well. He liked the salty pickle juice. But then he took the task over himself, and some of it spilled on the floor.

Unperturbed, he managed to eat some of the more frozen chunks. Then left me to clean the rest up. But all in all, Bow really enjoyed his Pickle Ice!

It has been a very nice spring so far. I was so intent on filming the baby birds that I almost did not notice the flowers opening in the rose bush that held their nest. These are wild roses, and if I had not allowed them to grow here, I would probably have never gotten to see baby robins hatch.

By the lagoon, the peonies are blossoming.

It is the accidental grass fire that killed the poison ivy that was strangling them that allowed the peonies to do so well this year.

Donald Trump seems to be like that grass fire -- destroying the GOP so that liberty can flower again from the scorched earth. Yesterday Cruz supporters left the shattered Republican Party in droves, and they are coming into the Libertarian Party to rally behind Austin Petersen, When Bernie Sanders does not win the Democrat nomination, his supporters will do the same. And so something that seemed impossible might yet happen. Austin Petersen could take over the government and make it leave us all alone to do what we want to do.

Bow and I are feeling hopeful. It's the small things that make life so wonderful, like good friends and Pickle Ice.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Four Hatchlings in the Nest by My Door

Last time I wrote, I was worried that the four robin eggs in the nest by my door would never hatch.

In the course of less than two days, all four baby robins have hatched out. The eggs are gone, completely replaced by hatchlings. But it is still too early to know how many will survive to fly away.

I was lucky to be able to see the very last one emerge from its egg shell.

This was a slow process that started early yesterday morning and culminated just around noon. At first it was just a tiny hole, then later we could see the beak, and quite a while later, the egg shell was almost divided in two, with the creature inside visibly moving.

And then, it suddenly happened so fast!

Still looking a lot like an unformed human fetus, it came out all at once.

And now there are four baby robins in the nest by my door.

But oddly enough, in the nest by the fence, the third egg never hatched. Here is what the nestlings look like by comparison.

The robin mother who laid her eggs first and whose eggs began to hatch first is not the one who will necessarily bring up the largest number of young.

But whether hatched or unhatched, these little ones have no chance of survival without the parents' help. They don't become individuals until they leave the nest. And this, for a lot of people is a problematic concept.

What does Bow think about the baby robins? He said to me, when pressed: טוב שצפור אמא. "It's good that the bird is a mother." His focus was entirely on the mother robin and her right to reproduce. He did not care about the babies at all.

How do we recognize a parent robin? It's that bird that comes at you when you are looking at the babies in the nest. They can get very upset with you if they think you are meddling with their young. Nature gives them a fierce protective instinct, because if the mother bird did not care, who would? In nature, we so seldom see bad mothers, because the offspring of bad mothers do not survive. I favor a non-interventionist policy that keeps it that way. So I film what I see, but I don't interfere. Laissez faire! That's my motto.


For those of my readers in Texas County Missouri, there is a meeting tonight, May 4th at Checo's Mexican restaurant in Licking with a representative of the Austin Petersen campaign. Dinner at 6:30pm. Speaker at 7:30pm. Pay for own meal.