Monday, March 30, 2015

Saw- Whet Owl....written by Emily M.Stone, Naturalist at the Cable Museum

Hey there readers! I know there are alot of you that are like me and find it amazing to see all the great animals, flora and fauna that we have in NW Wisconsin. This was a great email waiting in my email box today. I just had to share it as I have had the privilege to see one of these up alive and personal- they are soooo cute! Enjoy!

By Emily M. Stone 
Naturalist/Education Director 
Cable Natural History Museum

If you are interested in volunteering for the Annual Midwest Crane Count on Saturday, April 18, please email Deb We coordinate Ashland, Bayfield, and Sawyer Counties.

"Wow. Look at the stars," said Drew as he stepped out of the car. With no moon, they glittered brilliantly in the inky black sky. I paused from unloading the car, and gazed heavenward with him. Breathtaking. I love living in the middle of nowhere. But after I closed the car door, and even the dome light went dark, a sound penetrated our consciousness, too.

Hoo. Hoo. Hoo. Hoo. The repeated note sounded kind of like a back-up beep, or the car's warning ding that I left my lights on or the keys in the ignition. But all was dark, the keys were in my hand, and no engine noise accompanied the mystery. Suddenly my synapses zapped, the sound registered, and my eyes lit up in the darkness. "It's a saw-whet owl!" I grinned, excited at the prospect of a new avian neighbor.

The last time I heard the incessant (and somewhat annoying) call of a saw-whet owl, I was in the Sierra Nevada mountains of northern California. From there to Wisconsin seems like quite a stretch, but saw-whets breed in mature forests with an open understory from southern Canada to the northern and western United States.

While their habitat preferences are pretty well understood, the movements of saw-whets are not. Granted, it's hard to track small things that are well-camouflaged and only fly at night. We do know that they can cross the Great Lakes and other large bodies of water. One saw-whet owl even landed on a fishing boat 70 miles from shore in the Atlantic Ocean! Concentrated banding/recapture efforts have started to fill in the blanks.

One study in southern Indiana found that saw-whet owls tend to move into a territory when prey numbers are high, and move somewhere else when prey numbers are low. Deer mice are their preferred prey, along with other small critters. The study also noted that during a year when the owl numbers were below average, it had also been the worst year for acorns in recent history.

This is just one more example of how mast trees send ripples far out in the ecosystem. Mast trees save up their energy for three to five years before synchronously producing thousands of seeds (acorns in this case) all at once. Since mouse populations are known to fluctuate with acorn abundance, it follows that during a non-mast year, the mouse population would be low, and the owls would migrate somewhere else.

It also makes sense that the mast of acorns we experienced last fall may have increased the local mouse population and attracted this cute little hooter to my backyard. (Remember our discussion of how passenger pigeons might once have eaten all the mast, leaving no acorns for the mice, and no mice for the deer ticks? And how acorn caps made the ski trails rough this winter?)

A banding study from Maryland found that saw-whets increase and decrease on a two year cycle, with an irruption (a migration in response to irregular changes in food supplies) every four years. Based on that data, 2015 should be an irruption year for saw-whets!  In theory, it's a simple equation: more acorns = more mice = more owls. In nature, I know that nothing is quite that free of complications.

No matter why he's here, I'm excited that the smallest owl in eastern North America is beeping in my woods. Without feathers, the saw-whet owl is the same size as a robin (another sign of spring that's singing in my woods). With feathers, he is an adorable, top-heavy oval of brown-and-white-streaked fluff with expressive yellow eyes. If he's lucky, a female will arrive soon; responding with her own series of whistles. To seal the deal, he must fly in circles, and then present her with a gift of food - the limp body a mouse.

If they decide to breed here, the saw-whet couple will likely place their nest in an old woodpecker hole, excavated by the pileated woodpeckers or northern flickers that also frequent my woods. She won't do any interior decorating, but just starts her family on whatever debris is at the bottom of the cavity. If the mice are plentiful, she may lay up to eight eggs.

Perhaps it's a little early to throw a baby shower for my new visitor, but I'm thrilled at this addition to the neighborhood, and wish him a well-fed and productive spring.

For over 45 years, the Cable Natural History Museum has served to connect you to the Northwoods. Come visit us in Cable, WI! We are currently constructing our new exhibit: "Lake Alive!" which will open May 1, 2015.

Find us on the web at to learn more about our exhibits and programs. Discover us on Facebook, or at our blogspot,

I would love to hear your comments, questions, and ideasabout this article!
At eight inches long and 2.8 ounces on average, the tiny saw-whet is our smallest owl.
The Cable Natural History Museum is lucky to have a specimen of this cute creature, and you can visit us to see it up close!
Photo: CNHM collection.
Cable Natural History Museum 
13470 County Highway M
Cable, WI  54821

Phone: (715) 798-3890
The Cable Natural History Museum c
onnects people to Northwoods nature through educational experiences that inspire wonder, discovery, and responsibility. 

Seed Starting and Seed Saving Workshop- Tuesday March 31st from 6-8:30, 2015

This is an invitation to attend a Seed Starting and Seed Saving workshop at the Spooner Ag Research Station on Tuesday March 31 from 6-8:30 pm
The discussion will focus on a review of general botany (flower parts), pollinations/cross pollination, seed saving (including proper sanitation and seed borne diseases) and seed starting techniques.
MGV Russ Parker will be leading the discussion and promises to enlighten us with lots of thought provoking ideas and practical concepts.
This session will include a short presentation and lots of hands-on activities and demonstrations!   Everyone will be asked to help/assist in seed planting of our tomatoes for the North Country Master Gardener Plant Sale.  Everyone will also have an opportunity to take home supplies and seeds to start their own seeds.
If people want to bring seeds to exchange you are encouraged to do that as well.
This will be a great hands-on learning session and I encourage you all to attend!!
Space is limited to 30 people.
Please RSVP to this email by Monday March 30.
Thanks and looking forward to seeing on Tuesday at 6 pm.

Kevin and Russ
"A volunteer's time is the true example of selfless giving"  JRC

Kevin Schoessow
Area Agriculture Development Agent
Spooner Area UW-Extension
Spooner Agriculture Research Station
W6646 Hwy 70
Spooner, WI 54801
phone:   715-635-3506 or 1-800-528-1914
Fax  715-635-6741

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Spooner Advocate- Springbrook/Trego Column, March 26, 2015

Good morning! Hope this finds everyone out there doing great. It sure is bright and beautiful out there! I am loving this weather I hope you are as well. 

Sorry the column has been a little sporadic lately. I have had quite the adventure with my heath lately. I do want to say a thank you to Mitch and David for the great care that they gave me in the ambulance on the way to Duluth. Thanks also to all the doctors and nurses that took care of me and ran ever kind of test imaginable on me. Thank you to Dr. Andrei in Hayward that removed my gall bladder and has put me on the road to feeling better. I have one more surgery this week and that will be the end of all this being lazy! I am the worse patient let me tell you! A Huge thank you goes out to the Barber/Johnson family for taking care of me, rides, taking care of the animals and well putting up with me being surly.

Thank you to all the people that worked on putting the New Ventures Gardening Seminar on this last weekend. You all did a wonderful job again! All the presenters were great. I have to say I really loved Pat Thomas talk on pollinators as well as our own local Mike Heim who showed great pictures of his wonderful plants! I learned alot and am pumped to get going on the garden. Thanks to the Spooner Garden Club for all the great desserts and helping out at the seminar-the garden cub meets the fourth Thursday of the month at 1:00 pm. Questions 715-645-2346. Also thank you to the North Country Master Gardeners Association fr their help- more information about them can be found at If you missed this great event and want to go next year put it on your calendar- its held every year on the third Saturday in March.

A BIG happy birthday goes out to John Hendricks of Trego! This is a belated Happy Birthday as his birthday is March 23rd! Arlene Hendricks- Hencz and her sisters send you their love and wish you a fantastic Birthday! 

If you would like to access the LCO Community College calendar please visit them at LCOOCC Extension on Facebook. Any questions or to have a copy sent to you via email please call Amber at 715-634-4790 x156.

Do you know anyone that would like to get their GED? Maybe its you that would like to get your GED and go on to take some college classes. Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College is both a place where you can study for your  GED as well as test for it. f you would like more information please call 715-634-4790 and ask for Nicole.

Happy birthday to all the people in March! So excited that it is March- but man I got to get my gardens planned and start some plants!  If you have a birthday this month you are among some awesome people !!  Happy Birthday goes out My brother Lutius, Diane Cutt, Aunt Bonnie, my niece Cheyenne Horner, as well as my niece Bailey McAlpine, John Hendricks of Trego- have a fabulous day folks! If you have a birthday this month please give yourself a hug, do something that makes you happy!! We love you!

Put it on your calendar:

July 17-19, 2015- 35th Annual Conference and Campout. Where? Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa! If you have not attended this you are missing out!!! Hope to see some of you there!

July 24-25, 2015- Hayward Piecemakers Quilt Show. New location is at the Hayward Wesleyan Church in Hayward. More information- or call Michelle at 715-661-3575

August 19-21,2015- Return To First Medicines 2nd Annual Gathering. A Gathering for adults and children to learn about Sacred Medicines Growing Traditional Foods and how to care for our environment. This event will will be held at Fortune Bay Resort and Casino.

I know that there HAS to be some events going on out there! Please let me know!

Please remember that I would like any information from all of you of what is going on! This is your column ! Any garage sales, church functions, raffles etc? Let me know- thank you!

Have a friend or family member that would be interested in the column? Maybe they live out of town? They can access the column on my blog on Thursdays, at .

Monday, March 23, 2015

Barron County Master Gardener Annual Spring Expo- March 28, 2015

The Barron County Master Gardener Volunteers will hold their Annual Spring Expo on Saturday, March 28, at the WITC Conference Center in Rice Lake. Registration starts at 8:30am with gardening sessions beginning at 9:00am until 2:30pm. Pre-registrations are due at the Extension Office by Friday, March 20. Registration is $30 and includes a continental breakfast, lunch and afternoon break provided by WITC. Registration the day of the expo will cost $35 (lunch is not guaranteed).  
Our speakers include Jeff Epping, the Director of Horticulture for Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison, Brian Hudelson, Director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Plant Disease Diagnostics Clinic and Linda Degner, owner of Bashaw Valley Farm and Greenhouse in Shell Lake.
Here is the link to our website for more information:

Monday, March 2, 2015

Fifth Annual Traditional and Green Skills Event- Saturday March 7, 2015

Fifth Annual Traditional & Green Skills Event
Saturday, March 7, 2015 8:00 a.m. – 3:15 p.m.
Prairie Farm High School, 630 River Ave. S. Prairie Farm

Registration & Coffee Time 8:00 – 9:00
Socializing, coffee, tea, milk and goodies Commons Area

Session 1 9:15 – 10:00
Introduction to Drip Irrigation English Room
With Mike Racette
Using T tape for effective, conservation irrigation
Low Tech Food Storage Math Room
With Jan Erdman
Easy ways to store your garden bounty
Medicinal Herbs and Natural Home Remedies History Room
With Melissa Higgins
A pharmacy in your backyard
Kid’s Creative Space Art Room
With Nadine WetzelCurtis
Supervised space for kids to unleash their creativity
Easy Yogurt Making FC/E Room
With Kate Stout
Demystify yogurt making
Chicken Butchering Shop Room
With Ty and Audrey Martin
Learn the basics of taking your birds from coop to oven
Square Inch Gardening Ag Room
With Cris Cantin
Get the most from your small garden

Session 2 10:15 – 11:45
Beginning Maple Syruping English Room With Sam Dodge The basics of collecting and boiling off maple sap to your own syrup
Saving and Sharing Seed Math Room
With Experts from Seed Savers
Learn tips and strategies for saving and sharing your own seeds
Home Birth Options History Room
With Nicole Wocelka
Explore the many options in home births
Kid’s Creative Space (continued) Art Room
With Nadine WetzelCurtis
Supervised space for kids to unleash their creativity
Home Canning: Water Bath, Steam and Pressure FC/E Room
With Raine Lampert and Joyce Plunkett
Learn the nitty‐gritty of canning at home
Solar Hot Air Shop Room
With George Adams, Allen Freiermuth
Warm your home for “almost” free
Joys and Challenges of Dairy Goats Ag Room
With Meg Wittenmeyer
Covers many aspects of dairy goat raising including cheese making
Homemade Herbal Teas Commons Area
With Barry Iverson
Explains making tea from wild gathered plants

Session 3 1:00 – 1:45
Xeriscaping English Room
With Douglas OwensPike
Reducing or eliminating the need to irrigate both lawns and gardens
Controlling Invasives & Buckthorn Removal Math Room
With West Central WI Invasive Plant Management Area Staff
Exploration and Explanation of plant control
Intro to Home Scale Mushroom Culture History Room
With Jim Erdman
Grow fungi in your own back yard
Flint Knapping Art Room
With David Skrupky
Learn about this elegant and ancient skill
Blacksmithing Basics Shop Room
With Pete Stanaitis
Demonstration and discussion of blacksmithing
Organic Pest Control Ag Room
With Kate Stout
Tricks of the trade to keep pests away
Blues Harmonica in 20 Minutes Music Room
With Willie Williams
Learn to play tunes very quickly. Harmonica provided
You are invited to a full day of learning from local

Session 4 2:00 3:15
Seed Storage Math Room
With Experts from Seed Savers
You saved seeds, now how do you store them
Home Funerals History Room
With Lucy Basler
Learn the ins and outs of caring for your deceased loved one at home
Spinning Art Room With Sheri Stanaitis Learn the basics of spinning wool
Fermented Vegetables FC/E Room
With Brett Laidlaw
How to preserve vegetables and cultivate healthy microbes
More Blacksmithing Shop Room
With Pete Stanaitis
Demonstration and discussion of blacksmithing continued
Soil Health Basics Ag Room
Good soil health is the key to good gardens
Alternatives to Pampers Music Room
With Nadine WetzelCurtis
Learn about the natural ways to diaper your baby

No need to pre‐register, just pay at the door:
$12 per adult, $7 per child under 12 or $30 per family
of 5 or less. Includes class sessions, food and
complimentary childcare. Schedule subject to change
without notice. For more information, please call
Kate Stout at 715‐455‐1569 (
or Cris Cantin at 715‐455‐2088
11:45 – 1:00

LUNCH Multipurpose Room
Round Table Discussions Commons Area
Seed Swap 12:30 – 1:00 Multipurpose Room
Round Table Discussions, Local
Products Bizarre and Special
Interest Information all during

Join with others in the Commons Area to discuss topics
that interest you that have to do with Reskilling,
Resilience, Re‐localization and more. Do you have a topic
you would like to talk about? Bring suggestions with you
that day. We will have table markers. Shop for local
products and stop by to learn more about local special
interests. If you are interested in selling local goods or
services or want to inform people on a topic, all you need
to do is bring a card table and let Kate know you are
planning to come.

The Hungry Turtle Weekend Events- March 13-14th, 2015

 The Hungry Turtle Weekend events, Friday and Saturday March 13 &14:

March maple madness, amazing migrations, and the genius of germination-the
March Hungry Turtle Weekend program is Anticipating Spring, Friday and
Saturday, March 13 & 14 at the Amery Food Hub. The ground may still be
thawing, but it's not too early to plant a seed (indoors) or consider the
remarkable journeys that our avian neighbors make as they travel back north
each spring. And it's prime time for tapping maple trees for sap to boil
down into maple syrup, a true northern delicacy.

Friday evening features a book signing with Paula Westmoreland, author of
This Perennial Land: Third Crops, Blue Earth, and the Road to a Restorative
Agriculture. That takes place in the Hungry Turtle Gallery in the
splendidly renovated Fay Building on Keller Avenue, "the main drag," in
Amery. Local musician Amy Johnson will perform after Paula's signing.

Farm Table restaurant, also located in the hub building, is open for dinner
that night, and from 10:00 am to 8:30 pm on Saturday. Farm Table serves
fresh, distinctive dishes prepared primarily with ingredients sourced from
small local farms (including those that are part of the Hungry Turtle
Farmers Co-op, the third partner in the Amery Food Hub).

Saturday's schedule is packed with events to get you excited about spring:
Cris Cantin kicks it off with a seed starting demonstration at 9:00 am.
Cris will cover all you need to know to get your garden off to a running
start when the real warm weather rolls around. Then at 10:30 am local
teachers, biologists and bird enthusiasts Matt Berg and Brian Collins will
share their fascination with Wisconsin's feathered population.

The afternoon is all about maple-inspired cuisine, with plenty of
opportunities to taste, and to learn about maple syrup's versatility in the
kitchen. Teresa Marrone, author of Modern Maple, leads off the afternoon
session. She'll cover the basics of tapping your own trees for sap, and
talk about her culinary journey to liberate the syrup bottle from the
breakfast table. Teresa will demonstrate a couple of novel uses of maple
syrup in the kitchen, and there will be other maple-y treats to sample, as

The afternoon finale showcases culinary drama as Farm Table chefs and
talented amateurs show off their skills with maple cookery. Attendees will
have the chance to taste all the dishes prepared.

The morning session is free, and extremely family-friendly. The afternoon
of cooking demos and samplings is $15 (kids 12 & under free).

Visit the Hungry Turtle website to sign up:
<> or call 715-268-4510