Saturday, March 8, 2014

A Winter Feast

My step dad Randy sent me a couple photos of a Bald Eagle he witnessed near the Spoon River in Knox County, IL.  He said that the dead deer had many eagles around it including some golden eagles (bottom picture) from what he could tell.  The winter has been harsh so I am sure a dead animal of any kind creates quite a stir in the food chain.  Enjoy.

             (photos courtesy of Randy Smith)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Vitamix Body Restoration

Environmental restoration by day...Total body restoration by night.  A long way to go but this is a tasty start.

2 bananas
2 green apples
8 Strawberrys
2 handfuls of spinach
1/2 of a mango
1 scoop of Chia Seeds (omega 3's)
1 scoop of Raw Chocolate Protein Powder (about 17 grams per scoop)
1 teaspoon of glutamine (joint health)

The vitamix is like a supercharged blender so there is no waste.  This made about 5 cups.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Kankakee River....A Receding Torrent.

I went hiking along the Kankakee River today and as you can see ...nature has its own flood gauge.  Looks like it went down a  few feet.

Environmentalists, Glyphosate, and Butterflies - John Dillard,_glyphosate_and_butterflies/

Ag in the Courtroom

RSSBy: John Dillard,
John Dillard grew up on a beef cattle farm and now works as an agricultural and environmental litigation attorney with OFW Law. His blog analyzes legal issues and court decisions that affect America’s farmers and ranchers.

Environmentalists, Glyphosate and Butterflies

FEB 26, 2014
Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) has petitioned EPA to restrict the use of glyphosate herbicide to protect the dwindling population of the monarch butterfly. The petition states that the rapid adoption of glyphosate-resistant (Roundup Ready®) corn and soybeans in the Midwest has depleted the milkweed "community," which serves as the exclusive food source for monarch butterfly larvae along the route of its annual migration from Canada to Mexico.
NRDC petitioned EPA under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). FIFRA requires EPA to register each pesticide used in the U.S. and set parameters for the pesticide’s use, such as target species, labeling requirements, and restrictions on use. Each pesticide must undergo a re-registration process every 15 years. The current glyphosate re-registration process will be completed in 2015; however, NRDC has requested EPA take action to restrict the use of glyphosate prior to the scheduled completion of the re-registration process.
Under FIFRA, EPA can register a pesticide only if it first determines that the pesticide "will perform its intended function without unreasonable adverse effects on the environment." FIFRA defines an unreasonable adverse effect on the environment to include "any unreasonable risk to . . . the environment, taking into account the economic, social, and environmental costs and benefits of the use of any pesticide." In its petition, NRDC argues that the loss of milkweed communities brought about by increased glyphosate use has brought about unreasonable adverse effects on the environment because it has decreased monarch butterfly habitat.
It is hard to tell if EPA will take any action on NRDC’s petition. While NRDC may have a feasible argument that the increased use of glyphosate is adversely affecting the monarch butterfly population, the law requires EPA to consider the costs and benefits of pesticide use. When viewed objectively, there are a tremendous amount of environmental benefits provided by glyphosate-resistant technology. The most striking benefit is the increased use of no-till or reduced till practices, which decreases soil erosion, water pollution, and fossil fuel use and improves carbon sequestration. Additionally, glyphosate replaces the use of other pesticides that pose larger environmental risks.
Farmers have been trying to get rid of milkweed for as long as they have been planting crops in North America. Now, with the advent of glyphosate-resistant technology, they finally have the tools to effectively control the weed. In other words, if farmers could have eliminated milkweed from agricultural lands prior to Roundup Ready® technology, they would have. I see no reason why farmers should have to handicap themselves to set aside a portion of their land for milkweed habitat, or more dramatically, give up glyphosate as a weed-control tool, simply to protect one species of butterfly. 
To their credit, NRDC’s petition does identify some alternatives to an outright ban on glyphosate or mandatory refuges (like those in place for Bt corn and cotton). While NRDC is not necessarily concerned about a farmer’s need to control weeds, it does suggest that EPA could solve the butterfly problem by restricting glyphosate use in some non-agricultural applications, such as roadside ditches and electric line right-of-ways. If EPA does seriously consider NRDC’s petition, this option may be the right one to take for agriculture. Roads and power line right-of-ways could provide a corridor of travel for the monarch butterfly without imposing a burden on agricultural uses for glyphosate.
I’ll be following this issue and will update you if there are any developments.
John Dillard is an attorney with Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Matz P.C. (OFW Law), a Washington, DC-based firm that serves agricultural clients and clients with issues before federal and state courts, EPA, FDA, USDA, and OSHA.  John focuses his practice on agricultural and environmental law.  He occasionally tweets at @DCAgLawyer.  This column is not a substitute for legal advice.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Baldfaced Hornet Nest at Midwein

After lunch today at work I glanced over at a tree not too far from out work site and found an abandoned next of the Baldfaced Hornet.  Lucky for me no one was home and I could take some pictures.  Not sure what happened to the nest...probably wind damage but I like to think a confused bear was in the area looking for Hornet Honey?...just kidding.

Baldfaced HornetDolichovespula maculataFamily Vespidae

he baldfaced hornet gets its name from the ivory-white markings on the face.  The thorax, legs and abdomen also have white markings. The queen collects cellulose from weathered and rotting wood, chews the wood adding her saliva, and takes this paste and makes a papery material to construct the nest. Baldfaced hornets can be considered a beneficial insect in that they reduce populations of unwanted insects (including other yellowjackets) and will help pollinate flowers when they are searching for nectar.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Seed storage and processing at Midewin Tallgrass Prairie

Once seed is collected and cleaned it is stored in a huge outdoor cooler. The seed is stored at 38 degrees Fahrenheit .  The seed is sorted from where is was collected ( wild, reconstruction, cultivated). Later on , right now as I type , the seed is mixed based on the site and habitat.  This year Midewin has 15 sites the seed is going to. 




Saturday, January 11, 2014

How To Clean Milkweed Seeds in Small Batches

Milkweed seeds are notoriously hard to clean.  This is because the fluff (the parachute) attached to the seed tends to fly away or gets stuck in most machines.  Some people have found success by burning it away but recent experiments have shown that up to 1/3 of the seed can be damaged (  So most this job is done by hand.  However, I offer you an alternative that I came across at work that works very well for small batches at a time.

Milkweed Seeds