Walter Scott: Signs of spring are everywhere down on the farm

Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Drakesville, Iowa.

Columnist Walter Scott

Signs of spring are everywhere you look. From the early morning gobbles from the turkeys across the valley to the constant singing of the songbirds in the nearby trees, a person can have no doubt, winter is finally behind us.

When we hear the first Baltimore oriole song or see that unmistakable flash of orange as they flit from tree to tree, we put out grape jelly. Several years of doing this has given notice to quite a number of orioles that there is free food to be had.

I do not know who first determined orioles love grape jelly, but there is no doubt they do. Since it is difficult to find grape jelly in the wild, they are attracted to our jelly feeder for us to enjoy.

If the jelly dish is let become empty, it is not uncommon to see seven or eight pairs of orioles waiting impatiently near the feeder, giving me dirty looks while scolding my slothfulness. A few of the rose-breasted grosbeaks have also developed a taste for grape jelly.

I would like to thank the anonymous donor that left five jars of jelly at my office door. With refilling the feeder every day, the donation was put to good use.


The bluebirds have filled most of the nesting boxes we put out for them. They are currently on their eggs and we do not see them as much as when they were frantically searching for just the right home. The most we see them now is right after we mow the lawn. They enjoy catching bugs in the short grass.

A couple of days ago on a sunny morning, I looked out of the kitchen window while getting a cup of coffee and thought the lawn had developed a bad case of dandelions overnight. On closer inspection, I discovered the bright yellow spots were between 50 and a hundred goldfinches. They put on quite a show as they feed on the lawn.

Each year, during deer season, a pair of bald eagles appears and eats anything the hunters leave in the field. For the first time this spring, they are back.

For about the last month, a mature bald eagle will spend an hour or two in the big oak tree in front of the house near the lake. It makes me wonder if they have built a nest nearby. We are certainly hoping so. It would be quite a thrill to have a family of eagles as permanent residents.

The garden is planted and growing. Gardening can be a challenge when the garden is surrounded by wildlife. Last year we lost our green beans to deer, our cantaloupe to raccoons, and most everything else to rabbits.

I will win this year. I put up a three-strand electric fence to deter predation and Jag no longer sleeps in the garage. I have more faith in the electric fence than I do in Jag, but it makes him feel important to chase things off.

Last evening, Jag and Billie we both on the porch when they suddenly started barking toward the garden. I went outside to see what was going on and saw a deer laying down, in the yard, about 20 feet from the garden.

I am not sure if she was waiting for the fence to disappear or if she just found a comfortable spot to rest. She did not move until both dogs took out after her, running across the yard. Only then did she calmly jump the fence and wander into the timber.


The dogs returned quite proud of themselves though the deer was not alarmed, only slightly annoyed at having to move.

Things are never dull, down on the farm, but we enjoy every minute of it.

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