February 1

Almost a year ago I volunteered to be an amphibian monitor for Missouri.  I figured I could use it in my class.  So I find out I have to learn to identify frogs and toads by their calls.  I figure, no problem.  I already know a few, and I just have to learn a few more.   Turns out there are about 20, and many of them sound very similar.  Last December I listen to the reference CD, write some notes and take the practice quiz.  The format is difficult: there can be anywhere from 1 to 5 species in the recording, and each time you have all 20 to choose from.  I take the real quiz online and score 63, only two points from passing.  I figure I’ll take it again and pass easy.  I don’t get back to it until this week.   On my first attempt I score a 20.  Ouch!  I saw where I had confused a couple of species, take it again right away and get a 62.  STILL just short of passing.  One more time.  The computer hangs with only 4 questions left and I can’t finish.  I try again on Thursday, the browser hangs about halfway through, but this time the site remember where I left off and I finish with a passing score.  Whew!  That was humbling.  Here’s the response:




“Missouri: Till Plains


Your detection index is: 73

Congratulations, you have achieved a detection index of 73. NAAMP requests that its participants obtain a 65 or greater and you have achieved this goal. Thank you for taking the quiz and for your participation in NAAMP. “

One thing that helped was plugging my headphones into the computer speaker so I could get more volume.  Often there are spring peepers in the background that you can’t hear easily.   Now I’m having dreams about frog calls.  Our ice maker sounds like a pickerel frog.

We’ve been getting light snow, just a dusting.  We’re supposed to have overnight lows around zero or -1 this week.  Ice fishing time!

Saturday was Canton Eagle Day.  It was really cold and windy, which is excellent for eagle activity.  The river is mostly iced over except below the dam.  The eagles are concentrated around the dam and are feeding constantly to keep up with the cold.  Unfortunately, these are not good conditions for people.  I had only 5 show up for my talk in the lock house, even though it’s heated building.  They got even fewer down in the park, where we had spotting scopes set up for eagle observations.  The only good news I guess, is that some of the organizers bought T-shirts from my Cafe Press shop. 

My favorite juvenile red-tailed hawk was sitting on the Do Not Enter sign.


Gizzard shad taste good.  I guess eagles don’t mind the bones.


Comin’ in for a landing.

Sunday morning when I got up the thermometer read 0.0.  I took a picture of it, but you’ve probably seen enough of my thermometer already.  By 9:00 it had warmed up to 3, so I went out to cut firewood.  I was out of wood dry enough to burn, but I figured my neighbor’s giant brush pile was a year old, and at least partly seasoned.  After all, I had burned 3 pick-up loads of the stuff already.  I got two loads cut and stacked, and after considerable effort, I did get the stuff to burn, and hot (see below).   Meanwhile, Stacey and Savannah were at their respective churches.  In the afternoon, Stacey had a fire call (carbon monoxide), then a Fire Dept. meeting.  I took a nap and watched the QU basketball game, which I had recorded Saturday night.  We won again!

Lowell came over.  We watched the Colts walk all over the Bears.  We were all rooting for the Colts anyway, except for Savannah, who switched from the Bears to the Colts about halfway through.  And she was BORN in Indianapolis!

Meanwhile, in Lewistown a valve broke off a LARGE propane tank.  They had to call a conference of all the fire chiefs in the county.  They evacuated the entire town.  They closed the road, so Lowell had to take a roundabout way home.  At the same time, they had a structure fire in a different part of town.  Stacey followed the action on her pager, and helped direct people to places to spend the night.   It took a couple of days to drain it all off.

I took Lowell out to show him the wood furnace, and water was blurping out the vent on top.  It was boiling over because the damper was stuck open.  Oops!  I’ve learned to keep it very clean and lubricated. 

In my class Monday we planted our prairie seeds in trays.  We put the trays in the greenhouse.  Now we cross our fingers.  I discovered the greenhouse was whitewashed on the inside.  No wonder it never came off, even after several years.  I rubbed off a bunch of it, but still have much to do.

Monday night Savannah and I went to the high school basketball games.  We won both. 

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