Monday, June 29, 2009

Week 6 from the Fatherland

The days keep rollin’ on here in Germany.
Of course I’m continuing to monitor the movement of wild boar across the 625 acres of our Nature Conserve. Since about 1/4th of the land is adjacent to fields and we are responsible for the Wildschaden- wild game damage to the crops, a good amount of our time is spent trying to keep animals in the forest and away from the fields. The forest has wild game clocks that help track the movements and specific times of wild boar and the footprints they leave in the moist dirt of this area let us know about how old and how many there are in a group. The forest land adjacent to fields is lined with high seats and hunters sit according to where this information we gather leads us to believe they are most likely to be. It’s my hope that my analysis of the Wild Uhren will shed further light on this.
I spent this weekend mainly doing trail management with Julias who originally hails from the Slovakia. He has a manner to him that breaths comrade and likes to give you a strong whack on the shoulder when telling an especially good part of his stories. I thoroughly enjoy his company and working with him. All the while we worked and moved from path to path clipping off overhanging branches he talks and gives helpful relevant hints. On how to best talk to the farmers when they complain of the damage done by the animals, on Jagdsprache- the language of the hunters that really seems to be a old language of its own where the words match up not at all with either my German or English skills, on which plants to cut and how while where doing this trail work, so they won’t return next season in the same place, and generally just what goes on in these parts and the inner workings of the Revier.
There is a large area of forest on our Nature Preserve that we sometimes drive thru but rarely stop at and then only to quickly observe something. The area is called Bannen Wald and until a little while ago I just thought of it as a name. This past week I was told that it is the area of the Nature Preserve that is not allowed to be touched in any way. You cannot log trees in the area or change it in anyway. This makes sense because the name actually means Banned Forest. I look forward to exploring this area further and am going to take some pictures to try to capture it. There are very few places left in the densely populated Germany that are considered wild.

Nils Bell

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Week Five...Still Alive

Hello All!

This past week was my fifth and final week of my internship. Even though my hours are completed, I am still working the rest of the summer with my employer. I will most likely be posting about the following weeks just for fun, even though it's not required. I found that I was given a raise during my second week back. I didnt even notice until last weeks paycheck! I went from the agreed $10/hr up to $11/hr. What a great surprise!

Monday, we started the week with another huge slaughter job. We were hired to cut down about 16 trees, that included some Oaks, a Poplar, a Pine, and a Maple, to make way for a pool being put in. This is the second job that we have clared an entire backyard to make way for a pool. Needless to say, it was rainy and humid and the wind was blowing. Most of the trees we were able to set a line in and pull over by hand or with the hand winch (called a come-along). We do this by running a rope through the crown of the tree and back down the backside of the trunk. It is then tied off to the trunk with a running bowline. The other end is pulled on while the cut is being made. I did get to climb one of them. It was a medium sized Oak. I spiked up teh tree, set a line and went crazy cutting brush. It was fun. The reason we didnt crash it was because it was too close to a red-maple clump the homeowner wanted to save.

Tuesday, two of my co-workers, Nick and Greg, attended a safety conference in RI that lasted all day. While they did that, my boss and I went to Upton to prune part of a Norway Maple hedge. I did all the climbing on this one. I threw a line and tied into the center tree of the three needing pruning. I climbed up, maoved to one of the side trees, and raised all the lowers. I then swung to the middle tree and did the same, climbed back up, moved to the last tree, and did the same. When I was done, I swung back to the center tree and cleaned up the stubs I had left as steps. We raised the lowers so that her garden could get more light.The homeowner also left us a bunch of brush to chip besides the mess we made. So, we cleaned up the big mess. Before we could finish, our chiper glogged. Wet leaves mixed with the fact that we didnt clear it properly was the cause. So Dwight and I spent the next 15 minutes unclogging it. We decided that it was good timing and we went to get a coffee. We came back, finished chipping, and started on the next tree. This tree was an old Golden-Chain Tree That was hollow and very structurally unsound. So, we put a cable in it and removed an old metal tie that was put in by the homeowner. I also pruned off a lot of deadwood in it as well as a large branch that had cracked and fallen, but continued to grow.

Wednesday, we went back to the worksite from Monday, and finished the job. Nick was sick, so we were down to three guys most of the day. The log truck came in at the end of the day and picked up a good portion of the wood. The other smaller wood was taken by a neighbor for home heating.

Thursday was a good day. We started by doing a small pruning job. First, I pruned a spruce tree. I took out the top to reduce the height and encourage spread. Then I tipped bak a few branches that were very long up top to encourage a better shape. I then moved on to a sandcherry. I pruned it away from the house, reduced the height, and then my boss came by and took a few more cuts in the front showing me what could have done to help keep it in its own area. Then I moved on to the next plant which was a Japanese Pagoda tree. I took off some wild looking branches ot the top and tipped back a few of the side branches while my boss did the other half of the tree. There was also a Japanese Maple and two birches that my boss pruned while I was doing the others. We chipped our brush and headed to the next job. The next job was a huge Norway maple that needed to be cabled and pruned. My bass one I were in the tree for the rest of the day, setting up a 5-cable hub and spoke system. This is where we cable each leader to a steel ring centered over the base of the tree. We also took some weight cuts off the ends and cleared some deadwood while we were in the tree. It was a fun job, but long and exhausting. Thankfully it wasn't raining, but it was hot and muggy.

Friday was a short and laid-back day (like most fridays at Full Circle Tree). We first went and did some pruning in Upton. I pruned two large leaders off of a Mulberry tree one of which was over some shrubs and a shed. These are difficult to deal with because they tend to be heavy and brittle. My boss pruned a small oak and started a small ash tree while I did the Mulberry. I went to the side yard and front yard when I was done and pruned a Weeping Cherry, then I took a couple weight cuts off of some Ornamental Pear trees. I also removed some lower branches to allow for lawn-mowing and walking on the front walkway. We chipped everything, then went out to breakfast in Douglas. After the food, we went actross the street and pruned a couple of Hemlocks in front of the Post Office. We hand sheared them and clibed them to give them a haircut at the top. We fished just as it started raining, so we called it a day.

My internship at Full Circle Tree has been an awesome learning experience for me and I hope that the rest of the summer is the same. In case I don't post again, I wish you all a happy summer! I cant wait to get back to Unity to teach what I have learned!


T-Bo the Treewalker

PS: Check back for photos on this post, I am looking for my SD card so I can upload them.

Hello again reporting live from Camp Farley in Mashpee!! This past week has been a pleasant experience. Although it rained most of the week, the staff was able to put on smiles and be more appreciative of the warm days we did have. We have spent a lot of time talking about how to run a good cabin and how to be a good counselor. I listened intently because I want my kids to have a great time while they are here. I have opened my mind up to any suggestions and I am willing to try something new. The staff continues to surprise me with their friendliness and kind personalities. Earlier this week we played a game called 'reach out and touch somebody'. The game involved everyone, but the assitant director to sit in a circle facing the outside. He then would pick random people and ask them to stand in the middle of the circle while the rest of the group kept their eyes closed. Then he would tell us to reach out and touch anyone whom we respected and so forth. The objective of the game is to show each participant what people think of them and instill confidence and a warm fuzzy feeling inside; well, it worked. After that activity everyone was as joyous as a kid on christmas!
Lats week I got the chance to review a few games with the staff that I will be playing with my adventure group. The games went well and I was proud of myself for doing a good job. I did notice a few things I need to work on though; one was not being a fraid to be the facilitator. It is important for the games to have some type of structure, but I also need to remember when to give my campers the opportunity to explore. At various times during the games I often got flustered and let my voice escape from me. I need to maintain calm in all scenarios because if I freak out, so will my participants. Also this week I retrieved the ropes euipment from the cellar and took inventory of it all. I looked through the ropes manual and discovered plenty of trust games to play with the kids! I am excited to start, but also nervous. I also got a chance to operate the 2 high ropes elements in camp; the zip line and climbing wall. Although I receieved training I was so nervous and found myself slipping up, but in the end I regained my composure and faciliated the elements. With each passing day I am more aware of my own capabilities and these revelations have caused me to further stimulate my mind. I am approaching more challenges with confidence and spunk that will aid me in the succession of each task. Until Next week!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Week 7, home at last!

Well! My last week was a hand full!!

First, 4 of the does in the pen had their fawns! Chatter, O4, Tinker, Maybeline, and C.B. (who had triplets.) When Chatter had her fawns, we took one fawn (Cake) who we were trying to hand raise (but she wouldn't take to the bottle) and gave her to Chatter. Chatter immediately began to care for Cake. Tinker, Maybeline and C.B. all had their fawns in the past 48 hours. Tinker's doe fawn was pulled to be hand raised, as Tinker is too crazy. C.B. had three buck fawns one was pulled because he wasn't eating so well. Both of O4's fawns were pulled because she was not taking good care of them. We named the buck Tank and his sister scooter. Maybeline and Chatter very tame, so their fawns will stay with them. And while this is the first time that they have seen Maybeline raise fawns (she aborted her fawns last year) I think that she will be a good mother. Today when I walked the pen to check on everyone, she was surrounded by 5 fawns and was tending to all of them!

Since the past few days have been very hot and stressful for the deer, we have been putting out sprinklers to help them stay cool. They will run and play in the falling water and will also lay in the cool mud. We also put one in the fawn pen to help them stay cool as well. Its fun to watch the little ones run and jump in the water. The sprinklers have to be moved often to make sure that the ground doesn't get to muddy. Friday was so hot, that we had to take several of the fawns that were in the doe pen, inside with the A.C as their temps were way to high. One we even ran fluids to, to make sure that he was hydrated.

We have also received a new fawn from a customer this past week, Y933. She is doing very well, and has been moved to the three hour eating schedule. Another fawn the we are now raising, is the tiniest fawn in the pen. Her name is Bonnie, and when she first arrived, she was only 2.25 lbs! Being so small, we were unsure that she would even make it through the first 24 hours. But she immediately latched on to the bottle and is now a week old and 3lbs 11 oz!! I have a picture of her in my hat!

This internship, while much shorter than intended, feels like it was very long, and I am very tired. It is good to be home at last. I never truly felt like I belonged there at Fawn Country. I still want to work with animals, but this particular job is not for me. I would rather raise a wild animal only to return it to the wild, as opposed to keeping it in a pen for the rest of its life. And while this internship is not something I would do for a living, it did help me narrow down my options for my future. I now have a better idea of what I would like to do for a career.
It is good to be home!


Cape Cod Canal Update

I've been so busy recently that I haven't had time to post much. I came back from my four-day weekend to a week filled mostly by urban First Responder training. The following Friday three of my coworkers -- Aimee, Zach and Gabe -- and I were sent to Southbridge for district-wide training. The training was good; we learned a lot of Corps history, and the trainers did some cool stuff with Interpretation. The training also gave the four of us a chance to get to know each other outside of work. The hotel had a really nice pool that we were able to swim in, and there were pool tables in the lounge. Zach and I, who are both beginner pool players (I'm really bad at it), found ourselves playing on a "tag team" against Aimee, who is quite good. We won a couple of times, but that was only because Aimee put the eight ball in by mistake! Then on Sunday three more coworkers -- Andy, Kevin and Bob -- showed up for part of the training. Sunday included pepper spray training, and anyone who wanted to had the opportunity -- if you can call it that -- to get sprayed with pepper spray. Gabe was the only one from our group who elected to get sprayed, and he said that a person would have to be a "really big" jerk "to deserve that."

After training we had two days off. We came back yesterday to finish our urban First Responder training. Today Ann, one of the permanent employees, took me on a hike on Sagamore Hill to show me the ropes for the tour that I will be giving once the official summer season starts. I spent my afternoon working on the text for the evening program that I will be giving in cooperation with a community partner in August.

The next three days I will be in the Visitor Center, so I plan to take my computer to work so I can work on my Interpretive programs when visitation is slow. So that's what I've been up to. Every day brings new adventures!

Hawk Presentaions Look Promising

I have made so much progress with Jasper the hawk in the past month it is crazy. Two days ago we had a friend named Wendy, who has a lot of knowledge on raptors, come and help us with our birds. We toweled Jasper and put jesses on his legs and trimmed his beak and talons. At the same time we trimmed one of our owls and a broad winged hawk's beak and talons as well. I learned how to put the jesses on and practiced by putting on one of Jasper's. I also got to trim our broad winged hawk's talons myself and I trimmed his beak too and filed it down using a drummel. It was very nerve-racking but I did it. I learned so much from Wendy about not only trimming talons and beaks and putting on jesses, but also how to handle the birds as well. She does a lot of educational programs with the Burlington Science Center so she had so much to teach me.

Ever since we put the jesses on Jasper it has made it so much easier to work with him. Since he trusts me enough to sit on my arm and eat from my hand, I have been walking around the zoo with him and getting him used to other people. Because now that I have the jesses to hold, I can have complete control of him. I never let him be in control even when I bring him back into his enclosure; I am the one to place him back on his perch rather than have him fly to it. Everyone at the zoo is so excited for me to start doing hawk presentations, since right now we do not have any bird of prey shows, and guests always love to see these amazing birds up close and learn more about them.

Right now I'm working on my script for my show. I'm going to talk about the history of falconry and how birds of prey are used today. I'm going to tell the audience how I was able to gain the trust of Jasper by making him realize the only way he was going to get food was if he came to me, and that is how I was able to "man" him. I am also going to teach everyone important facts, not only about red-tailed hawks, but of birds of prey in general. I'm going to focus a lot on hawks' eyesight (which is about 8 times as strong as a human's) since Jasper can not be released into the wild because he has really bad eyesight and therefore, I was able to use him as an educational animal, and I know he was made to do this job.

I know that I want to be able to work with animals like Jasper for the rest of my life. It gives me such joy to work closely and form a bond with such a wild and powerful creature. I hope to teach many people about not just birds of prey but all animals and hopefully they can appreciate these animals the same way I do.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Adventures in Acadia

Hello Unity, and all friends of Unity! I dearly miss life at the college, but it is only a few more weeks and in the meantime I am keeping busy with an amazing internship at the Schoodic Education and Research Center. SERC is located on Schoodic Point in Acadia National Park. My official job title is Science Communications Intern, which means that I (and my roommate/fellow intern) am responsible for making advances in science at the park accessible to the general public. Once I week I go out in the field with reasearchers or park employees and learn about the ways that Acadia is keeping abreast of innovative science and its practical applications. I then write a research or program brief for the National Park Service, as well as at least one weekly blog describing my experience in Acadia. It is a wonderful opportunity, especially since the degree that I'm working towards is in Environmental Writing and in my experience so far writing internships and jobs are not exactly easy to find. So I feel very blessed to have this chance, and very grateful that I responded (on a whim) to the email I received via Unity alerting students of the position. Life is sublimely serendipitous at times. I have never had a particularly strong science background, so sometimes writing about it is somewhat challenging, but I am delighted at how fascinating the research going on here has been so far. My first day of fieldwork entailed working with the invasive plants crew at park headquarters on Mount Desert Island. That was an exciting day; tackling the noxious invasive Giant Hogweed, a nasty plant capable of inflicting severe blistering and burns of human skin through its sap. My second week I went out marsh coring, a method of research I had never heard of before. However I quickly discovered that it is an invaluable tool for measuring carbon sequestration in marshes, a topic that is directly applicable to climate change. Unfortunately my fieldwork this week was rained out but I'll soon be working on a brief about Acadia's peregrine falcon program. In the course of these 10 weeks on the Maine coast I hope to become a better writer, a better scientist, and increase my awareness of the intriguing possibilities of my native state. Despite growing up in Maine I've never really experienced the coast and it is tremendously exciting (although a little lonely at times) to live here for a summer. If you would like to check out my official internship blog through the park service, check out I will check back in as further developments unfold. Missing Unity every day!

Update from Erik

Hi All,
Hope that everyone is doing well. I'm not doing too shabby. I've been keeping rather busy here.
This past week, I did a lot of analyses in the lab, it's lots of fun! I went out to the field twice this past week. I went out once to place data loggers in some wells. I also went out to collect some bugs, place a bunch of new ones, run three discharge measurements, and locate a sink hole to run a trace out of next week. While we were out wandering around the woods, I found a spring all on my own!! Go me!! Haha. We celebrated thirsty Thursday last week. That was fun. We all hung out in the undergrad lounge in the Geology building. Good times.
On Saturday we all went on a field trip with Calvin (he printed a 40 page book he wrote for us about the trip!). We explored a few springs, a few sinking streams, and two caves. We explored Niagra Cave, which is a private commercial cave. That was fun. Most of the conduits follow bedding plains, faults, and joints. Pretty obvious I guess. So we wandered around there, Calvin was our guide, as he was one of the first persons to go into that cave, and map it. We then went to Mystery Cave which is owned by the state. That was pretty cool. The part we explored didn't have lights in it, so we got to bring our flashlights to wander around. Pretty cool. Again Calvin was our guide, as he made the maps of that cave. It's pretty cool in the welcome center half of the pictures are of Calvin, and most of the figures and the maps are made out to his credit. He's been around a bit I guess. He's still a lot of fun to hang out with. On our way home Saturday nite, he took us around to look at a old car show (pretty sweet). It was fun pointing out all of the cars, and arguing what the nicest cars were.
Today was a pretty easy day. It was my first day off in the last 2 weeks. I basically just chilled the whole day. I think the only thing that I did that was productive was go grocery shopping!! Haha. It's good though, I needed a break. I almost wish I had another day, but oh well. Next weekend will be here soon enough.
I'm going to attach a picture of the group of us interns. Well, not everyone is in it, but most of us are....
L-->R Back Row: Will, Me, Nobu
" Middle Row: Julie, Angela, Alissa, Becky
" Front Row: Chelsea, Liz, Michael
So Will, is a cool cat, this is his second year at this REU, he's been working on the same project. You already all know way too much about me. Nobu works with Calvin as well, he's also pretty cool. Julie, also works with Calvin, she's nice, I guess. Angela is really nice, she is working on modeling something. Alissa works in the IRM (Institute for Rock Magnetism), so I don't see her too often. Becky also works in the IRM, she on the other hand is very nice! Chelsea is working on some project in the chemistry labs. Liz works in the LRC (Limnological Research Center), she's looking at charcoal (0.5cm resolution!) from a lake core from NW WI. Michael is my room mate, he's working on petrology of martian basalts. Way over my head.
So that is most of everyone that I am working with. We are all getting along real well. Next weekend we are having a party to celebrate a bunch of their birthdays, they are all lined right up. Should be fun.
I've been reading tons here, I've read three books in the past 1.5 weeks, and read a textbook as well. Fun fun. I think that I'm learning tons here. It's pretty sweet.
Not much else is happening.
Oh, finally have a project. I am going to be mapping the karst terrains in Houston County. What fun. I guess that since I am the only person competent in GIS, I get that honor. Though, it should be fun, and not take too long. I plan to spend as much time doing other projects as possible with Andrew and Kale (both grad students I've been working with)they have cool projects, and it's good to talk with them to learn more, and see what research is about for them.
For those of you that haven't taken GIS.... take it, it's probably one of the best skills that I've learned, and it can get you into lots of new places since not many people can use it fluently (yes Joe, this includes you as well!).
I think that is about it. It's been really hot and humid here. Which is absolutely horrible. Oh well, I'm just getting use to sweating when I'm sitting still, damn summer. Though it is good for those 15hr field days!!
Well, I'm pretty tired, so I think I'm gonna crash soon.
Hope everyone is well,

Germany Post 5

This week on Thursday we put up our first electric fence around a wheat field. The seeds are hitting the stage where they are sweet to the taste and all animals are lured to feed. Places where wild boar are spotted easily especially if they come into the fields in groups because they often dig around in the ground where they feed. The difference between wild boar and deer can also be told by how the crops look that have been fed on. Wild boar grab onto plants and shear of everything edible by pulling it off, whereas the deer simply snip of the tops of the grain they seek.
In my first blog I wrote that the nature preserve I work on is 250 acres large. It is actually 250 hectare which is roughly 2.5 the amount of an acre so around 625 acres. It is a wet swampy area surrounded by a loop section of the old Rhein. The Rhein is one of Germany’s largest rivers and was straightened out as Germany’s population grew to make it easier to navigate. This old loop section surrounding our land still often floods with water that saturates the ground and gives it its swampy appearance, especially in the lower lying areas. It also makes for an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes. Other animals I have seen since I have gotten here are hedge hogs, hares, European badgers, red foxes, reh deer, wild boar along with a variety of birds including storks and a large population hawks.
The European badgers and red foxes both dig deep mounds in the dirt, sometimes even residing in the same mound. I’m excited to see what other animals I will spot before my internship is thru.

Herr Brecht is excited about my data collecting project for the wild game clocks. I hope it will provide him with some valuable insight on where, when and how the wild boar are moving across his land. But I will wait at least until the end of the month for my first analysis so I have a good amount of data to work with.

So-wa-di-ka! (Hello!) again from Thailand.

I've just completed my second week of my internship, with three more to go. I have pretty much gotten used to the schedule during the days. Waking up at 6am and getting done with my day at 5:30. This week was a very interesting one indeed.
During the beginning of my week we had a macaque escape from his enclosure. Because the center is surrounded by forest, we spent an hour and a half searching through the woods to look for him, and then for another hour the next day. Unfortunately, we have not yet found him and it isn't looking too well for finding him. From this I've learned how important keeping up with the enclosures is an important aspect of keeping up with the center.
I also started working in the quarentine area with 14 of the newest gibbons and macaques. I like working in quarentine because you can kind of make up your own schedule fror the day and the animals there are the ones that need attention the most because most of them were previous pets who still look for human interaction and will probably never be released into the wild.
That is all I have for you this week, but look forward to another update soon!

Amanda Smith

Hi All,

Hope that all is well. I guess I am a little behind the curve, so I better make this a good one!!

I have been rather busy this last week or so. The first part of last week was very relaxing. Both Monday and Tuesday were short days. There wasn't much to do. We have been busy cleaning the lab as I mentioned before. Last week involved more titrations than I ever want to do again in my life. I ran 60+ alkalinity titrations on Thursday and Friday (however my average standard deviations (n=3) were less than 0.5ppm calcite, Barry would be proud with all those stats!). What fun. It is actually a really cool data set. We have a data logger set up at a spring and whenever the stage changes by so much it triggers the automatic samplers and they collect water every half hour. We plotted the hydrograph of the event and it looks really interesting. Normally it would look like a right skewed Gaussian curve (or close to it), but this one does not. This one has the rapid climb, and a slow decrease followed by another increase, that then is steady. It is kinda neat; they have never recorded that in a spring. They do not think that the second jump is caused by a new rain event, since the precipitation recorded did not see anything. We think that is might be caused by a sinking stream, then providing new and continuous flow to the system. We are going to trace the sinking stream in a few weeks to see if that is a possibility.

On Saturday we had a REU wide field trip. We went up to the north shore of Lake Superior to look at the hard rock geology there. That was pretty fun. We got to see all of the different basalts, gabbros, ryolites, and granites. It was pretty neat. We also went to see Gooseberry Falls, basically a water fall that goes over a basalt feature. Sunday I went back out to SE MN to look at some more karst stuff. We were looking for new sinkholes, and springs. We were successful. We found several, so they are now on the official state map. Yippie!

On Monday I went out to the field again just about 30 miles south of the Twin Cities to an old Ammunition Manufacturing Plant from WWII. We put data loggers into a bunch of the wells there. Apparently there is a huge amount of gravel under that area (10's of billions of dollars, so I'm told), so needless to say it is going to be collected soon. We put the loggers down in so we know some basics about the water table before it gets disturbed. Basically background information.

Tomorrow I am going out in the field back to SE MN. We are going to do a little caving, to get some in cave channel discharge measurements. We are also going to do some spring discharge measurements. We are going to replace a few probes, and finally collect the data off of some loggers and collect the automatic water samples. Oh boy. That will be a very long day. I anticipate another 17hr day, like both Saturday and Sunday were. I'm getting pooped!!!

I'm starting to get use to using DOS, the floralspectrophotmeter runs on a DOS system. I'm also getting decent at fitting Gaussian curves to the readouts using PeakFit. Fun fun.

Yesterday I baked a whole bunch of rhubarb crisp, and made some home made whipped cream to go with it. yum. I think everyone appreciated it. Basically all 12 of us hung out last nite watching me bake, and then they all ate it up. Pretty sweet deal. The lot of us all seem to be getting along very well. We all went to a bar the end of last week to watch the hockey game (only two people actually cared, the rest of us just had a good time!). Basically I'm working with a bunch of pretty cool people.

I'm going to attach a few pictures from Saturday's trip up to see the Duluth Complex.

Not too much else going on here. Trying to keep out of trouble which is pretty easy considering I'm almost always working.

Hope that all is going well for all off you.



Using Hair to scare of the dreaded German Wild Boar

Today I was introduced to a most interesting way of keeping wild boar away from farmer’s crops. Hair. Human hair supposedly smells awful to Wild Sau and keeps them away anywhere from two weeks to a whole month, depending on how much it rains. Our natural smell as well as the perfumes found in the shampoos we used is enough to ward off these omnivores that are causing so much havoc over here. So I found myself feeling most peculiar this week as I walked around the edges of fields, throwing out clumps of hair every few feet. Herr Brecht assures me it works for short periods of time and is a lot less time consuming than setting up fences everywhere but I am skeptical. He’s been doing this for a long time though and hasn’t been wrong as long as I have been here.
My experiment with tracking the wild boar population via wild game clock, or Wild Uhr, can now continue. There are a few times in life that you hope your suspicions are wrong and this was one of those times. As I wrote in my last blog we believed all three clocks where stolen by curious visitors that stumbled upon them while hiking through. Together in a group we combed the areas surrounding the original locations of the wild game clocks that get set off when they are knocked over by pigs digging through the ground for food. A good half an hour search at each location yielded all three clocks found by the eagle eyes of Herr Brecht. They had sharp teeth marks in them and it is Herr Brecht’s believe that some young curious pigs carried off the clocks with the corn scent still on it thinking it was some type of food. They where a good 30 meters or more away and tucked away under some bushes and I am sure I would have never found them on my own. I am now logging the times these clocks are “hit” by pigs and am then going to try to do some analysis to see what seats should yield us the best results for wild boar.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Week Four ...I Want More!

Its always something new and exciting. That is why I love doing treework. You never know what your going to get. This past week was a grab bag of jobs that kept me on my toes.

Monday we went to go take care of a couple Sugar Maples (Acer saccarinum) to start the day. My boss, Dwight, took the smaller tree near the road. In this tree, he removed a dead top and some other deadwood. Also, he took some weight off the ends in order to reduce the weight on the already stressed tree. I went up the one in the backyard. This tree was so large, I had to put a knot at the end of my 120' rope. My line was set at around 50' which uses 100' of rope. Only 20' to play with minus the 3' ft used to tie in with. If I had to set my line higher, i wouldnt be able to make it to the ground! Once in the tree, I set the other end of my line in another leder in order to walk out on it and take out deadwood. The tree, overall was about 75' tall and afforded an awesome view over Douglas. It took me a couple hours to get in the tree, prune out deadwood, take some weight off the ends, and inspect for decay and structural deficiencies, which there were some. Most of my time was spent slipping around due to the rain. Here is a video to show you my view from the tree.

Tuesday was wet too, but the rain itself held off a little. We worked at a condo village in Hopkinton, MA. We split into two groups of two. Nick and I went to the bottom of the village while Dwight and Greg went towards the topside. Dwight gave me the list of jobs for the area and Nick and I went to work. I pruned a beech first, taking off a couple limbs near the condo. Then, I moved down the road and removed a leader from a black birch tree that was over a Dogwood. It went smoothly and I managed not to break any dogwood branches. I also took a few limbs off the backside of the tree that were on a garage roof. Last, I pruned some branches off another beech that was crowding the entrance to another condo. After all that, Nick and I chipped the brush and cleaned up. We met up woth Dwight and Greg, who took off for lunch while Nick and I set up at a large two leadered Red Oak. After lunch I removed a large branch that was hanging over the roof of the condo. First, I set my line, footlocked my way to the top of the tree, pruning any lower branches that were in the way of dropping the limb or growing towards the condo. Then, I ran a tag-line (a rope used for lowering) through the top of the oak so that the branch would swing towards the tree and away from the condo when lowered. I then walked out on the limb and took a few smaller branches off the end to reduce weight. Then, I tied it off with a clove hitch and dropped out the top of the branch. I then moved down and took the remaining wood out in two more pieces. On the way out of the tree, I removed a couple of large pieces of deadwood just for kicks, so the condo people would be happy with the look of the tree. Last, I moved down another road to prune a Red Maple. It was very busy, so I thinned it out, and took some weight off the ends over the rod and a driveway. Last, I made a few structural cuts to help the tree later on as it grows more. We then headed back to the ranch to end the day.

Wednesday we went on the pipeline. The pipeline refers to the Town of Uxbridge's sewer line. We have been contracted to clear the line of brush and trees so that the town can access the man-holes. It was built and then left of some 30 to fifty years, in which time, the forest has succeeded in reclaiming the area. Our job is to clear a 25' wide path along the entire line. Over the course of three years, the company has cleared almost 10miles worth of piping, with only a couple hundred yards to go. We started that couple hundred on wednesday and we are one day awy from finishing all the lines in the town. Pipeline days are always different, but on each day you can be sure there is a lot of tripping, bugs, poison ivy, and in this days case, rain of top of it. Its mmierable work, but we always make the best of it. We bck the chipper in with my boss's 4-wheel drive pickup and chip all the vines, thorns, shrubs, and trees we encounter. It's on these days that I saw how destructive invasive species are. We cut a lot of multiflora rose, deer-briar, russian olive, and tons of honeysuckle, all of which are not native. Today was a good day though, because we cleared around an old oak that must have been over 200yrs old. Nothing like the sight of an old oak tree to brighten the spirits!

Thursday and Friday were fun days. It rained on us both days, but by this point we were getting used to being wet all the time. We went to a cul-de-sac in Mendon and knocked down a whole bunch of oaks and a birch so the homeowner could put in a pool and have it not be shaded. In total, we cut down 21 trees with a grand total of 24 stems, because some trees were doubles. The reason this made a difference was because I set a tagline in each tree so that we could pull or winch over each stem to ensure they all fell in the same area. This made chipping and logging a breeze. We called in a local sawmill to grab the stems. Thursday, we had finished the cutting and chipping and the logtruck took a full load of logs out. Friday, Greg and I went back to grind 5 of the stumps, and help the logtruck grab the rest of the logs, wich turned out to be another half-load. We finished up there, and then headed a few miles across town to take care of another quick job. At this house, I pruned a Purple Plum that had been massacred by the homeowner. I fixed her cuts, took some height off of it, thinned it a little, and took out the dead twigs. After I finished, it looked much better. Then, i moved on to a red maple that was structurally terrible. It had multi-lederd stem that was jointed in a V-crotch with included bark. I topped one of the leders and thinned out the tree as it was really busy. I also made a few smaller structural cuts that helped with the thinning. When I was done, I took the pole-pruner and tipped back some of the longer branches. When I finished, the tree looked uglier than when I started. Hopefully the homeowner calls us back in a few years so this tree can get pruned again and fixed the rest of the way. I would love to see how it reacted to my cuts.

Well, I am off to bed to try and get some rest before I start work up again tomorrow. This week sounds promising with some more pruning and cutting. Hope you enjoyed the post. Keep an eye out for my next!


T-BO the Tree-Walker

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Staff Training at Camp Farley

I have just arrived at Camp Farley and I am excited. I will be the new ropes instructor so I think I am ready for more responsibilities and I cannot wait until the kids arrive! The staff here are friendly and amazing and I hope to have a great summer with them. I have not really done much as of now. The rest of the staff will arrive tomorrow and the training will start tomorrow. The camp was extremely nice and let me bring my bunny so I am grateful to have him here with me! The camp itself is small, but that's where we come in! The surroundings are beautiful and what is even better, the kids have the opportunity to swim in a lake!! It is very clear and warm so I hope that they will enjoy that. I have my past experiences from my last camp job so I am ready. I will have the utmost patience and kindness and I will try to provide them with a postive learning environment that will stimulate self-confidence and courage. I guess I will be writing a post every week so stay tuned!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Week 6: Change of Heart

Hello everyone!

This week, four new fawns were born to two does. The first doe, Patty, had a buck and a doe. We took the doe to hand raise her, and the buck, sadly died a few days after birth. The second doe, O5 (she is just a tag number as she doesn't have a name), also had a buck and a doe just this morning! Still a little wet when I found them. We will most likely end up hand raising her doe fawn as well, as O4 is not very tame.

The point of having tame deer, it to make everything easier on the owner. Tame deer will walk right up to you, and that makes it easier to check them out, make sure that there aren't any signs of illness, and if necessary, to treat them. Treating a sick but tame deer is easier then treating a sick deer that isn't tame. It also makes dealing with their fawns a lot easier as well too. A tame mother will have tame offspring. But the deer can lose their tameness, if they don't have continual contact with humans.

Over the past few weeks, I have learned quite a bit. Not just about deer, and raising their fawns, but also about myself. When first going into this internship, I was a little skeptical about raising and treating whitetail deer as farm animals. This skepticism has turned into a bit of a moral dilemma. I want to perform well here at Fawn Country, but at the same time I think its wrong to keep deer penned up like farm animal. This dilemma is making it difficult to do my best here, and so I've decided to cut my internship short. I was originally going to stay until mid August. But now, I'm going to stay until next Friday. I'll be home June 26th.

I simply am not a good match for this position, and I can admit that. Its not that I don't like deer or working with animals. Its just that I'm not passionate about this internship, and its hindering me, and it will also hinder the program here as well. And it breaks my heart to see such a beautiful wild animal locked up in a pen.

I will post one last time before I head back to Massachusetts for the rest of the summer. Hopefully with some pictures.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Great Day at ZooQuarium

Today, like my other days at the zoo, I continued working with our red-tailed hawk Jasper. I have been getting closer and closer to accomplishing a huge goal with him, and today I finally did! Jasper sat on my arm and ate an entire mouse while perched on my arm. It is amazing that a wild animal who was afraid of everyone and everything when I first met him, is now accepting food from me. I have successfully been able to "man" him. On Thursday, we will be putting jesses (the leather straps that go around the legs of birds to handle them and is a common term used in falconry) on Jasper so that I can start taking him out to the pubic to use for presentations. I am very excited.

Also this week we got some of our summer animals that we take care of. They come from the Needham Science Center. One of those animals is a great horned owl named Micetro. I get to start working with and handling him as well.
Today we got a really big skate from the Buttonwood Park Zoo and she is absolutely gorgeous. I'll try to get some good pictures of her soon.

One thing that really surprised me today was how many people had never seen a skunk before. After my skunk presentation today, many people approached me at the end and told me they had never seen one and that they learned a lot. It always makes me feel good when people get something out of my shows and what I have to tell them.

Well that's about all I can think of right now. I'm just so happy about how far I have come with Jasper. I will post pictures of me with him as soon as I can.

Mountaintop Removal Week 4

Week 4
7 June
Day 1 (22)
Went to church today. It was really energetic and the sermon was right on. I got to watch over one of the volunteer’s little girl today: super fun. Then I stayed up till 2pm gardening because the above ground greens had to be planted before this cycle of the moon ended. It was a really great lesson in gardening though: I needed it. Due to a recent personal discovery in just how much corn is in our system, I have to get into gardening a lot some day.

8 June
Day 2 (23)
I slept in today then toured the watershed that I’ll be testing in within the following weeks. It was simply beautiful in the area: very few houses and an abundance of nature. In some places you could visually tell that the water was polluted. The issue then is that these people live so far away from civilization, that they can’t really buy water. They had gardens and animals for their own food: a simple, beautiful life.

9 June
Day 3 (24)
I didn’t go to appeals court today. I should have, but I would have fallen asleep. Today is more of a personal day to take care of a few things and rest. At the end of the day we watched an old Stephen Segal film called “Fire Down Below,” about Segal beating up people in the coal companies: obviously not something we support.

10 June
Day 4 (25)
We made final preparations today for the Icthus Festival. We finished fine tuning the brochure I made, finished fine tuning the poster that Jason designed, and other outreach materials. It’s pretty cool to actually do these things after you learn so much about why outreach materials are so important in advocacy. We also finished planting today, but the fencing isn’t up, so the rabbit is having a field day. I’m glad I got to do all of this gardening, since it’s such an important part of sustainability.

11 June-13 June
Days 5-7 (26-28)
Icthus is great so far! I can feel myself really getting closer to God and understanding Him more. We’ve also had some great outreach successes. Some discussions lasted an hour, others short but successful. A lot of people signed up to volunteer. We also made connections with other groups there like organizations and youth groups. A big part of Christians for the Mountains is bringing in groups to educate them about mountaintop removal hands on: not just pictures, movies, and statistics. Groups coming in will go on hikes to appreciate the area and learn about the biodiversity here, then visit mine sites and understand the clear difference. The mine site visits include tours and information from people who live in these communities and are leading activists like Judy Bonds and Maria Gunnoe (winners of the Goldman Environmental Prize). One group that we connected with is a Christian Adventure group that has a creation awareness program; they do trail work and wilderness trips.

Today was the last day of the festival. It's really late at night and we're staying up for a gypsy Christian rock band, then driving back. Some wonderful connections were made on the trip. I feel like I've come to understand how to interact with people boldly to spread a message. I even got a seemingly passive man to say, "Well, I can do that!" When asked to send emails through a website to his representatives and senators about mountaintop removal and the current legislation on it (Clean Water Restoration Act and the Appalachian Preservation Act). A lot of people in Kentucky (this is where the festival was) thought that mountaintop removal wasn't happening anymore (in fact it's happening much, much more) or had never heard of mountaintop removal. The interesting thing is that parts of eastern Kentucky are being strip mined.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Week three in the Tree

Just as a heads up, this post covers the dates of May 25-29th. These past two weeks I have been in Harrisburg, PA training with the Army Reserve. In addition, my invitation had expired, so I had to wait for that to get cleared up as well.

So, the week started rainy and ended pretty much the same. It was a week full of slipping and sliding in a mix of Pear and Green Ash Trees. We worked at one group of condos for the entirety of the week. Day one, we spent time pruning a bunch of Pears. We took bigger weight cuts to relieve stress during the winter with snow. I also punched a few holes in the top to let some light and air into the canopy. Last, we used arbor-tape (a polyester-blend fabric) to tie off several leders to eachother for support during the winter. Snow is a big problem with these trees as they have many leders that all grow with very tight V-crotches. Those crotches tend to be weak and will split under a heavy snow-load. That was only the second time I was allowed to tie supports for a tree. I made sure that it was done right, a bowline around each stem with some slack in the middle to allow the tree to move and bend.

The other trees we did were some Green Ash. These trees are not the prettiest trees, but they can survive a lot of abuse, and their deep green in the summer does look neat. For these, we did some real quick weight cuts and took off the lowers that were bending really far down. My boss found a girdling root on one and did a root collar excavation on it. The trunk was girdled the entire way around. Hopefully the tree will make it. I put up a picture of the crown. You can see how thin the foliage is and how sick it looks compared to the other trees.

The last two days were the more important, as we were taking out branches on the condos, deadwood and the lowers. I was able to put my training to the test by pruning a branch out that was over the condo roof and over a lightpost. I tied it off using a clove hitch secured by a half-hitch. Then, I put a scarf on the far-lower side and did the back-cut with my handsaw, leaving extra holding wood on the topside. It swung out picture perfect and my boss lowered it to the ground without hittig anything. Success! I included some before and after shots so you can see the difference!

Each day, we were pretty much racing the rain. We started out usually with the rain, it would let up, then we would work our butts off to get a section complete, just in time for it to start pouring. It made for an interesting week. One day, my boss took me over to do a fertilizing job to kill some time. We fertilized about 35 evergreen foundation plantings to help with overall health and vigor. We also took a ride over to another town to spray a woman's cherry tree for winter moth. It was the first spray I got to do. We used hort oil mixed with a stomach poison. I had to be aware, because there was a crew working in her garage nearby, and I had to wait to make sure they were inside, and that the wind was not blowing. I wore a mask and goves for protection. First I sprayed from the underside of the tree outwards, then moved to the outside and moved around, drenching the entire tree. While I was doing that, my boss lined up some more work while we were there, and I ended up spraying a Mugo Pine before we left. This was being eaten by sawfly, so I sprayed it with the same chemical we used on the cherry, since it works for most leaf-eating larvae.

So, after some short wet days, we had a farewell brunch for my co-worker, Jesse, who was recently hired by the state of MA to work on the Asian Long Horned Beetle epidemic that had engulfed the entire Worcester Area and now has hit a few surrounding towns. I will miss him as a mentor and friend. He taught me a lot last summer, and I hope his skill is put to good use at his new job!
Until Next week...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Week 5 with 14 fawns

Thats right, we now have 14 fawns! Many of the newest fawns are from a customer who is paying Fawn Country to hand raise them for him so that he may have a tame herd. One of them is from a doe, Spirit, in one of our pens. She gave birth to a buck and a doe this past saturday. The doe was pulled about 24 hours after birth as the mother is not as tame as they would like her to be.

One recent discovery was made involving one of our fawns. Miss Ann, our is not a Miss Ann, but rather an Andrew! Some how, this important fact was missed. Bucks, as a rule are not hand raised for safety reasons. There are exceptions however, such as when a buck becomes ill and his best chance of survival is to be pulled from the mother.

It's been getting rather hectic with 14 fawns to care for, along with keeping an eye on all the does. The does will chase each other sometimes and its important to know who is being chased by who. If a doe is kept running, her fawns could starve. If such behavior is caught early, the does can be separted. The doe pen also needs to be walked frequently. Not just to make sure the does are healthy, but also to check to see of there are any new fawns, and to make sure any current fawns are healty. Fawns in the doe pen are checked for a full belly, and for cleanlyness and ant bites around their rear ends. Fire ants are a big problem here in Texas and will literally eat the fawns from the inside out. The fawns response to the bites is to play dead, so it is very important to check for bites, and to check the pen for ants.

A reason to check to see if the rear is clean, is not just to see if the mother is tending to her fawn, but a dirty butt can be a sign of an illness. Many times, the first sign of an illness can be found by looking at the fecal matter of the fawn. The quality and smell of it, and how often it is removed from the body, can inform us if the fawn is ill. But this is where it can be a bit complicated. How the fecal matter of a healty fawn looks, and how frequently is it voided from the body ( some will go almost every meal, while other onle once a day), is affected by the age of the fawn, thier diet (are they eating just milk, or milk and pellets?) and external temperature. Really hot weather can affect how the fecal matter looks. This is all very important information to know, and is rather challanging to absorb. But I am getting better at analyzing fawn waste, it just takes practice.

peace out!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Greetings from Thailand!

Greetings from Thailand! I'm here at the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand in Phetchaburi, Thailand. I arrived here on Sunday, June 7th and got a tour of the facility. WFFT is not a zoo, it's rescue center that rescues wildlife in thailand that are being mistreated, especially for those who are trained for exploitation. The public is allowed to come in and visit but they will not be seeing animals that are in such good health, a lot of these animals have been traumatized.
On my first and second day here I was assigned to work with the bears. We started our day at 6:30am. Our first duties were to clean their enclosures and scatter their food about. The enclosures are made so that they are as close to being real habitats as possible--that is why we scatter the food around in places such as on top of climbing areas, in tunnels, or even underground so that the bears have to dig for their food.
On my third and fourth day (today) I was assigned to work with some of the primates. At 6:30 am, my group and I were assigned to do food preparations. This included cutting up the fruits for all of the primates and distributing them as needed. In Thailand, this can be one of the more hectic chores, only because it is so hot here and there are millions of flies around, and the food house, where the food is prepared, is their favorite spot to hang around. After that, the primate areas are separated into three sections, for yesterday and today, my group was assigned to the biggest area. Feeding the primates is a very difficult task, especially with gibbons, because when they see you coming with the food, they just want to reach out and grab it, and from personal experience, I can tell you that there arms are a lot longer than they appear! After they eat we collect the bowls, wash them, and then do it all over again in the afternoon. There are other duties that need to be done around the center, such as scrubbing the feeding stations, collecting garbage, and composting. The center has great composting system!
So far the experience has really given me a great insight to what my career path will lead me into. It's hard work, but it's very rewarding. We were shown a video when we first arrived about the rescue of one of the bears. Some of these animals had never seen trees or grass before. a lot of the gibbons spent years of their lives in cages that were just too small for them. All of the work I have done so far has been exactly what I expected it to be. Everything from collecting garbage, to observations, to food prep is going to help me get a head start in the captive wildlife care and education field.
Internet access is very limited around the area I am in, so blog updates will be minimal with no photos, but be sure to look forward to more updates from Thailand!
-Amanda Smith

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Mountaintop Removal Week 3

Week three
31 May
Day 1 (15)
I went to a Holiness church today because they started the Pentecostal movement and today is Pentecost! The preacher didn’t really have a message and didn’t talk about the Pentecost, so that was disappointing. I was making baked beans for a potluck tonight, but they didn’t finish in time. That’s the last time I use a Crockpot to cook baked beans: bad idea. The potluck was fun: it was with the Mountain Justice group. We work with them a lot as it is the same cause (to end mountaintop removal/ strip mining). They are getting ready for a court hearing tomorrow because most of them got arrested at an action last week. Some chained themselves to the mining equipment (trespassing and other things), some paddled out the sludge pond and put a sign out there (they got arrested for littering in a sludge pond and trespassing), and others got arrested (the worst arrest: a couple days in jail with 2000 cash bail each while the others pretty much walked away) for simply trespassing. We raised a bunch of money to get them all out of jail.

1 June
Day 2 (16)
I did a lot of gardening today: tilled and dug a bunch of holes. I created an information collection card today for people to write their information on for us.

2 June
Day 3 (17)
I went to Charleston today to help pick-up a volunteer (Sarah). Sarah had a friend at the local Presbyterian Church (Bill Rainey’s church). We informed him about how MTR connects with the faith, the reality of what is going on, and what the opposition has been up to. It was a nice connection to make. Sage and I went to a meeting for the Plateau Action Network (PAN) and made connections for water testing in the following weeks. PAN recently hired a VISTA worker to do water testing in streams running off from local mine sites. We also needed to do testing, but don’t have equipment, so we are making it a group effort to show how MTR is destroying the local watershed. I also made a brochure today for Christians for the Mountains that we hope to hand out with the information collection card I made yesterday at the Icthus Christian Music festival coming up next week in Kentucky. On a more entertaining note: the tent we were drying out blew away in the storm (it was found and is fine). I guess I forgot to put the stakes back in when I drained the water from the last storms :D .

3 June
Day 4 (18)
Put a few screens up today and helped build a bookshelf. A woman I met at camp called today. The DEP approved a permit for 100ft near rt11. This is right near her house, where she grew up, and where her parents live. We’re going to write letters to the DEP for the 30 day comment period. We’re going to get others who have or are experiencing the effects and after effects of mountaintop removal to talk with the locals near rt11. They don’t really understand exactly what this means; they don’t understand that their health, children, property, loved ones, neighbors, air, water, and lives are in danger. Hopefully they will be motivated enough to write letters of their own to the DEP. So far, 6 cemeteries have been located along the new mining area: this is typically helpful.

4 June
Day 5 (19)
Put up more screens today. They’re hard to do because we don’t have a staple gun, but we just got one tonight. I helped build a bed, put the books on the shelf in the library, sorted the recycling: basic stuff. All of this tedious stuff is to get ready for a whole slew of guests and so that it’s all done before water testing, site visits, festivals, and such start happening.

5 June
Day 6 (20)
More people came today! They were lots of fun. They volunteer at this food center in Virginia that makes three meals a day for whoever wants it: rich or poor. Super cool.

6 June
Day 7 (21)
Today we got a lot of the gardening done. We spread manure, planted the tomatoes in the first garden and started making rows and planted some herbs and seeds in the second garden. The comfrey was harvested, so we can say goodbye to bad woman’s health. We went up to Kayford Mountain, or once-was-Kayford Mountain, ran across some eco-justice folks from Chicago, and met up with our anarchist allies. Super tiring and energetic day.

Before mountaintop removal

After/during mountaintop removal. Sage (kind of my boss) said that four years ago you could walk out across from the height we were standing to the far edge. Before mtr started here, Kayford mountain was taller than all the mountains you see in the distance.

This is what they call reclamation: restoring the mountain to it's original form. The green you see is a spray on grass with glue and dyes that sticks to anything. You can see where the grass is already eroding because underneath is sand and rock. The contours are nothing like they used to be. Also, the Appalachian forests around West Virginia are "mixed mesophytic temperate rainforests" basically they are the most biodiverse lands in the western hemisphere outside of the tripical rainforest. Now, they are the least diverse.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Cape Cod Canal Week 2

The second week here at Cape Cod Canal has come and gone. On Tuesday I was sent with a coworker, Gabe, to paint numbers on the light posts on the Bourne Bridge. That was interesting because I had never done anything like that before. We were part of a construction crew that was doing other maintenance while we were there, so the police blocked off a whole lane so we could park our vehicles and do our work. The company truck Gabe and I were operating out of had a blue light bar on top, which was useful while we were parked in the middle of the road. However, when we left to go to lunch we couldn't figure out how to turn the light bar off, so we had people pulling over for us all the way back to the office! It was hilarious.

On Wednesday I was part of a crew that went out and constructed a nest exclosure for a family of piping plovers on Mashnee Island. The exclosure is made of fencing similar to chicken wire that is embedded about a foot in the ground and covered with netting. The exclosure is designed to let the plover family in and out while keeping anything bigger -- predators such as foxes, coyotes, and hawks -- out. While we were working, Mom and Dad Plover were running around having an absolute hissy fit, because of course, we couldn't explain to them what we were doing. One of the parents did a classic "broken wing" act in a vain attempt to draw us away from the nest. There were three eggs in the nest. Plover eggs are extremely hard to see because they look like small rocks, so we had to be very careful not to step on them. Hopefully, all three eggs will hatch soon.

One thing that is a regular part of working at the field office is giving tours to school groups. I did that with coworkers on Thursday and today. The kids are elementary school students; we've had third and fourth graders so far. Usually I do the PowerPoint presentation in the theater, which introduces the kids to the history of the Cape Cod Canal and what it would be like to be a marine traffic controller. The kids range in behavior from rambunctious to really good; Thursday we had a rambunctious group, and today we had a really good group. After the kids eat lunch, we play a game called "Tugs to the Rescue" with them, in which each tableful of kids has to answer questions about the canal correctly in order to get closer to a sinking boat so they can rescue its crew.

Saturday and Sunday I worked in the Visitor Center. As time goes on, I am becoming more familiar with operations there. Sunday we had technical difficulties with some of the technology in the exhibits, but my coworker, Jackie, who is in her fourth season at the canal, knew how to fix the problems. My boss, Sam, said she will begin teaching me technological troubleshooting in a few weeks.

At this point I have entered the planning phase for two interpretive programs. One will be a weekly walk up Sagamore Hill, which is near Scusset Beach. The other will be an evening program; for that one, I hope to interpret some aspect of the local pre-Columbian history. My current idea for the evening program would require some cooperation from one or more community partners, so if that turns out to be impractical, I will have to revise my plans.

So that's week 2 in review. I'll write more when I finish week 3!

Update 3 from Germany

I’ve been assigned a group on three hunting seats to maintain on my own. I am to lay down feed in the muddy wild boar pits or Suele in German hunting language, as well as maintaining the shooting lanes and clearing the paths leading to the high seats. Maintaining clear shooting lanes is best done with two people, with one seating up in the high seat pointing out the branches and bushes obstructing the view and the other trimming them down. The paths to the high seats must be periodically cleared of small branches and leaves to a width of approximately 50 cm to allow the hunters a clear quiet way to the high seat. I was also told to set up three Wilduhren in three of the most heavily visited Suelen.
These Wild Game Clocks are designed to stop when they are tipped over. Since they are placed in the mud over the corn feed the only game that sets them are Wild Boar. It is an accurate and relatively inexpensive way to keep track of game movement on a piece of land.
At the moment these times are simply told to Herr Brecht, the Jagdpaechter, and he then tells hunters where to go on a day to day basis. I wanted to record these times by seat and then analyze the data to give us a better understanding of what seats are visited at what time. This information could help aid hunters in being more successful by choosing seats most traversed.
As chance would have it, a mere two days after I started recording these times two of these Wild Game Clocks disappeared. Herr Brecht informed me that Wild Boar have occasionally dragged them off or buried them but a more likely explanation would be that a nosy visitor to our nature preserve stumbled upon them in the forest and decided to take home the curious looking device.
So it turns out that my experiment will have to wait a while longer until new clocks have been bought.

Nils Bell

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Week 4 with 2 more!

That's right, we now have 6 fawns! Of course we are expecting 40+ fawns, so there is a long ways to go! But the two newest ones are Mushroom (in the front) and Feisty (in the back). They arrived here at Fawn Country this past Sunday to be hand raised.

Boy are these six girls a handful! They now have an out door play area that they have free access to during the day. The older fawns love to race around it at top speed, narrowly avoiding each other. The younger ones are more apt to jump and skip around, then to race the older fawns. Once they tire they will either curl up outside in the pen, or walk back onto the porch and fall asleep in some hay or in the dog kennels that have been put out there. When its time to feed them again, we call them to us by grunting to them like their mother would, and they come running! Some times were are still getting the bottles ready when they swarm us. They usually know when its time to eat, and will come before they are called. The two youngest fawns don't yet come when called, but they will learn yet.

During and feeding time and after when wiping butts, you have to watch out because some of the fawns, mostly Miss Ann and Sandra have taking to chewing on the baby wipes, both clean and dirty. Miss Ann also has taken to chewing on my shirts! Chewing on clothing and giving nips and licks are signs of the fawns bonding to us. So while the nips may be a bit painful, they are a good sign.

Something sad happened this past week. A young buck fawn that was brought to us died. Normally we don't hand raise the bucks, but this would have been the exception had he lived. The owner, and one of our customers had brought him to us after one of his does gave birth to triplets. One was born and an appeared healthy, one was a still birth, and the finally one was born very very small. He was hardly 3 pounds (average is about 6 lbs) and could not stand to nurse. Even if he could stand, he would not have been able to reach is mother. So they owner brought us the little buck in hope that he could be saved. Unfortunately fate was against us. The owner waited over and hour before picking up the fawn. He should have been grabbed immediately, as he was to small to reach his mother, regardless of whether or not he could stand.

When the tiny fawn was given to us, he was wrapped in a blanket and placed on a heating pad to be kept warm. When his temp was taken it was 93 degrees, normal temp is 101.5-102. He was very cold. We gave him some warm ringers solution and gave him some goat colostrum to try to give him something akin to the passive immunity that his mother would have given him through her milk. Unfortunately our efforts were futile as he quickly passed.

Another scary event that happened this past week was that one of the fawns, had a little run in with a door. Literally. Margarita was in the pen when a truck drove by in close proximity to where she was. Needless to say, the truck spooked the fawns that were outside. So the little ones ran as fast as they could back on the porch. Margarita was unable to stop in time and hit one of the windows on the porch door with her head, shattering the glass pane! We cleansed her wound with a saline solution and put some Nolvasan on it to prevent infection. Then we went about cleaning up all the broken glass and removing broken shards from the the door. After which we covered not only the empty window, but all the bottom windows with cardboard to prevent such another injury.
Well, it sure has been an exciting week! While the six fawns we have now may not be a lot, more should be arriving in about 10-12 days, just in time for the third intern to arrive!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

3rd Week at ZooQuarium

So, I finished my third week at ZooQuarium this past week. The zoo has not been very busy lately but last Sunday we had a ton of people, which was really nice. I was able to do a couple animal presentations at our "Zoorific Theater" stage. I did one on African Animals so I brought out Madagascar hissing cockroaches and an African pygmy hedgehog. Then I did a presentation with Lily the skunk for a Native Wildlife show.

This past week I have had a lot of progress with our red-tailed hawk, Jasper, who I have been working with. I have slowly been getting him used to me being in his enclosure and getting used to the glove that I will be feeding him and handling him with. The first step was to leave his food on the glove everyday, so he would finally learn to take the food from it without being afraid, and I would also spend time talking to him everyday as well. Then I would start waiting for him to eat. At first he would not take his food till I had left his enclosure, but this weekend I managed to get him to eat while I sat on the floor of his cage. It took him a while to trust me, but once he did, it was the best feeling in the world! The next day I also sat in his enclosure but a little bit closer, and he did not take as much time as he did the previous day, so we are making good progress even though it takes time.

Last week I also finished a project I had been working on for our "Walk in the Woods" section of the zoo. We have some spring peepers that I set up an exhibit for. I have been working on it since I got here, and I finally got it the way I like it so that the frogs are happy and zoo guests can still see them as well. I also came up with an enrichment idea for our albino chipmunk in "Walk in the Woods" as well. I took a paper towel tube and lined the inside with peanut butter. Then I put Cheerios, rodent blocks, corn, and some cut up apple inside and stuck it to the peanut butter. He really seemed to enjoy it!

Monday, June 1, 2009


2/3 cheetahs, gigi and claire.
1/2 bongos, prudence.

training session with JW, leopard.

So I tried to post photos with my blog, and it didn't work. So here goes try 2.

Animal Care Internship

I am one of 7 animal care interns here at the Kansas City Zoo. The department I work with is called Baobab, which is divided into two groups: Market and Forest. The forest side is made up of gorillas, red river hog, bongos, african crowned cranes, leopard, black mangabeys, red capped mangabeys, and yellow backed duikers. The market side is made up of cheetahs, warthogs, lilac breasted roller, red ruffed lemurs, ground hornbills, saddle billed storks, aldabra tortoises, leopard tortoise, lappet faced vultures, bateleur eagles, blue duikers, red-flanked duikers, and tons of birds in 2 different aviaries. My department has so many different animals, I'm probably forgeting a few of them..

I started my 3rd week on Sunday, and loving it. So far I've learned all the routines for the different areas in Market and Forest. Besides taking care of the animals in my department I also do keeper chats about cheetahs and gorillas.

One fun thing I did last week was paint with the gorillas. We helped them by holding the ornaments and canvas, while they held the brush and painted. One of the best perks of being an intern is that if we bring in canvas, we can get the animals to paint. And basically all the animals at the zoo paint. I've also got to observe training sessions with one of our cheetahs, and our leopard.

This is the first summer that KCZ is technically doing internships. In previous years they've had assistant zoo keepers, which were paid part time keepers. So since they haven't done it before, and they're trying to figure everything out (ex: if we can shadow other departments, etc) so we're basically a guinea pig group; but it's not bad at all.

Mountaintop Removal Week 2

Week 2
24 May
Day 1 (8)
Today I finished sending letters to all of the members of the US Senate and started sending letters to member of House. I got half way through California.

25 May
Day 2 (9)
Today I finished letters to California House members and Colorado. We did a lot of work around the house today, moving books and supplies into the office, cleaning and revamping the kitchen, organizing the kitchen: lots of handy work. Tomorrow we officially start work. The head of Christians for the Mountains is coming tomorrow and the mattresses are arriving in the morning!

26 May-29 May
Days 3-6 (10-13)
I did a lot of digging in the garden this week and learned a bit about planting with the cycles of the moon. I started to till up a new garden but it started raining. I organized the office: it looks better now that we have filing cabinets and such. The house is also set now. Rebekah has been painting her bedroom and our bathroom (they look much better). We cleaned house for the arrival of our guest.

30 May
Day 7 (14)
I went to a local sustainability fair today in Charleston, WV. It wasn’t impressive at all. We didn’t have a table since we’re just getting started and moved in, but we will have one at a Christian music festival coming up. Our guest Abby is a joy. I learned a lot from her about reaching out the people in effective yet gentle ways. It’s been pretty basic this week. We’re still settling in to the house and office. We’ve made a bunch of local connections with churches, a rafting company, a bookstore, and many others. We also keep getting calls from all over the nation from people wanting to stay a week or so to help out. Basically support is increasing exponentially: it’s great! I went for a hike today. The forests here are mixed mesophytic temperate rainforests: the most diversity in the Western hemisphere and the most diversity of all temperate rain forests in the world! It was pretty exciting; I ate sassafras and wintergreen, walked through giant rhododendrons, smelled amazing blackberry bushes, short needled pine, lots of oak, and some chestnut. The giant rhododendrons were the coolest: I’m used to what my family grows in the garden. The end of the trail brought us out to a ledge looking over the New River Gorge National Scenic River with a famous arched bridge arching over the gorge. It was breathtaking. Truly a work of God.

First Hunt

This week I had my first sit in for a hunt. I went with one of our hunters to a seat called Kur Fursten placed in an area that has seen allot of damage due to wild boars of late. We saw first a fox, then a young buck, and right before we left a medium sized pig all in one night, though it was too late in the night to safely shoot by the time they came out. Each state in Germany has regulations depending on the time of year of when hunters should stop shooting based on the amount of daylight available. Two nights later I went out again and we saw a full grown doe that was grazing on the edge of the field we were sitting at for a good half an hour but Mr. Brecht only wants bucks to be shot at this time of the year because it is mating season and females could be pregnant. So no game was taken home but that’s why they call it hunting. The game we did see gave Mr. Brecht a clearer picture of how the animals are moving across his property.

Wild boars continue to be the topic of main concern for us. A new report was published by Germanys most renowned hunting magazine, Wild & Hunt (Wildlife and Dogs), that found that the wild boar populations had increased at over 300% rather than the 200% previously believed. Their vast numbers continue to cause destruction to farm grounds adjacent to forest property and land owners, like Mr. Brecht, have to literally pay the price. Thus, our efforts remain focused on controlling their population and minimizing the damage they caused. This week we took down an old fence that was put up a while ago when corn was first planted but has become extraneous because the corn is at a stage of growth that does not interest the pigs. Mr. Brecht is now considering the best place to put up the fence. Some wheat fields directly next to his property are starting to reach maturity so next week will probably be spent trying to protect those crops.
To finish off the week I had the rare treat of spotting a Zauneidechse in the forest. In all my years spent living in Germany I have never seen one of these and this one was friendly enough to pose for a picture. Representing Unity College of course!