“Old-timers Agree, MN River Needs to Recede!”

Submitted by Art & Barb Straub

“How come I never get to do one of those ‘poll’ things? I cart you all over but never get in on that kind of action!” Frances the faithful Ford Focus had been listening to her radio, which consists of either polls or political ads these days, so we decided to give her a chance. She polled five river-rats, youngsters over fifty with roots in the Minnesota River Valley and water in their fisher-boots. The question she postulated to them was, “In your opinion, as of December 8th, is the Minnesota River at its highest level you’ve observed, going into winter, in your lifetimes?” The answer from these august personages was, a unanimous “Yes!” Frances went further, “Would you agree that the situation last year at this time was historic as well? And did these two high water records contribute, in your opinion, to the floods of the last two years? Without hesitation, the response was “Yah!”
At this juncture, Frances was placated, as she along with thousands of users of Highways, 19, 6 and 93 were greatly inconvenienced by high water the last two or more years.

Good job, Frances! We are told that flood stage at Henderson is 732 feet. As of December 8th, the figure was 723 feet. With a minimum of winter snowmelts, another high-water spring can be expected. Might as well not worry about it, rather, take one day at a time, as we are pitted against circumstances beyond our current control.

With the Ney Center Christmas Bird Count next Saturday the 14th, citizen scientists in Belle Plaine, LeSueur, Henderson and outlying districts are gearing up, making certain the bird feeders are full for a long winter’s nap, or should we say winter’s alert. One doesn’t know what to expect this time around. Some years Henderson/LeSueurites have counted in shirt sleeves. Other times they’ve worn long underwear and driven through twelve-inch drifts. If a count was done at our shack December 6th, the ‘highs’ would have been five chickadees, two downy woodpeckers, one hairy woodpecker and a little red squirrel…whoops, squirrels don’t count in the count. Little did we think that white-tailed deer (thirty) would outnumber last year’s count winner, the dark-eyed junco, three. On the other feather, someone heard a cardinal doing its spring call on December 4th, while a hairy woodpecker was drumming away to its hearts content on Sunday the eighth. Folks, what’s it all about? Eagles outnumbering (20) wild turkeys (7) at Bucks’ Lake on a wintery day, December 7th?
We still need helpers for the CBC anywhere within 7.5 miles of the Ney Center. Either phone for forms (507.665.2658) (507.357.8580) or scribble the highest number of same specie birds OBSERVED AT ONE TIME, then pass the word to NEY Center. Give the adventure a try, we highly endorse it!

White tailed deer had to switch from autumn plenty on harvested bean and corn fields in a hurry as they went from fruit of the earth to leaves, grasses, nibbling on brush and mast. Actually, the snow did the long-haired mammals a favor. Deer “lays,” that is, resting places in the snow, are more comfortable than cold wind-swept ridges. (See photo)

By the way, when you come upon Henderson’s well-known Bill Deno these days, check to see how many fingers remain on those gifted electrician’s hands. Bill has a cozy henhouse on his estate, and when he attempted to gather the chickens’ treasures this past week, reached into a nestbox to find beady eyes and fifty razor sharp teeth grinning up at him, rather then calcium encased egg treasures. Usually a possum will look up at you with dripping slavering jaws before whittling on finger digits, but, there’s always the possibility.

So, the big CBC lies ahead. Can we beat more participation than 2019’s hardy 80 souls? 2010 found 344 black capped chickadees perking about; 800 dark-eyed juncos thrilled the 2009 troops; 198 gold-finches flitted about in 2011; and 357 snow buntings bounced about fields and down country roads in 2008. What treasures will YOU report in 2019? The feathers are in your hands!