Brute's Bleat May 4, 2016

After a couple of comments about seeing families of Canada geese with newly-hatched goslings, I paid special attention to a pair in the pond just west of Varner Lake Sunday and spotted their offsprings following them. There are numerous species, both domestic and wild, and I gave the internet a quick look and learned they are more than numerous. I also learned that “Geese are bred mainly for their meat, which is particularly popular in Germanic language countries around Christmas. Of lesser commercial importance is goose breeding for eggs, schmaltz, or for the fattened liver (foie gras). A few specialized breeds have been created for the main purpose of weed control (e.g. the Cotton Patch Goose), or as guard animals and (in former times) for goose fights (e.g., the Steinbach Fighting Goose and Tula Fighting Goose).” Both of my parents came from German backgrounds and a goose dinner on Christmas seemed to be a tradition with them. I can also remember my mother talking about using geese for weed control in the garden as well as us kids (the geese were more effective). She also liked to tell about rescuing me from a mean gander that was beating the daylights out of me with its wings and beak. I was about two years old at the time and don’t recall a thing! . . .
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Vanna and I are seeing a lot of birds in Ney Park that seem especially interested in the new bluebird houses that have been installed along one of the trails. It’s probably part of an effort to bring back bluebirds in Minnesota. I assumed the birds we were seeing were the real thing, but an authority on birds, Richard Demars, suggested they might be swallows which are similar looking and have some blue feathers. He said swallows have a forked tail. He suggested binoculars. The internet says, “Bluebirds are a symbol of happiness. They like to eat meal worms at bird feeders. Male bluebirds are much more brightly colored than females. Although sighting a bluebird is considered an early sign of spring, a few usually linger until late December and some return as early as February.” They can be found in all of the counties in Minnesota . . . We also got to talking about yellow-winged blackbirds which are not as prevalent as the red-winged variety. We agreed the place to look was in swampy areas.
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My Florida connection, Mike Muller, called Saturday to let me know there was still time for George Palmer and myself to come down for fishing before he comes back in mid-May. He whetted my fishing appetite with a tale about the four of them, guide, Jesse, a relative, Lenny, and his fiance, Bonnie, and himself, catching 124 Shell Crackers that day with some of them going a pound. They also caught some catfish and another specie which escapes me. He said they fished with live crickets and used up something like 300 that day. . .
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Catching grasshoppers were part of the sunfish fishing trip ritual a friend of the family used to take me and my brothers on to East Battle Lake when we were kids. They were effective bait, both for sunfish, crappies and an occasional bass. Pasture grass or short alfalfa were good places to find grasshoppers. I haven’t been out fishing since the cooler weather showed up, but hope to get out Wednesday. . . In the meantime, I’ve been hacking away at the honey-do list and I noticed Sunday most of the lawns on my block have been mowed except mine. I gave that a try late Sunday, but was forced to quit when I discovered I hadn’t purchased any gasoline since last fall. . . It’s also time to think about looking for Morel mushrooms and, with all the rain we’ve had, there should be a good crop this year!

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