Even though the leaves are off the trees, beauty remains in the Kickapoo Valley

Even though the leaves are off the trees, beauty remains in the Kickapoo Valley

Ah, another beautiful October week came to a lovely close. It’s all I could ask of this autumn month as far as the weather goes. It’s been comfortably warm with temperatures in the sixties with a little rain and lots of sunshine. It was a good week to get things done before the cold sets in: washing the windows, stacking firewood on the back porch and mowing the grass one last time. I was grateful for the nice weather in October, it’s hard to get those fall chores done when it’s always cold and rainy and, besides, the older I get the more I seem to procrastinate.

Wednesday, I watched a pair of sandhill cranes as they flew over, high in the blue sky, headed east. They were probably going to a gathering of cranes near the Wisconsin River, fifty miles from here. They gather together to fatten up in the soybean, corn and hay fields along the sandy bottomlands of the river. If the weather stays agreeable to them they might not head further south until well into November.

The autumn marsh provides colors as beautiful as any throughout the year

The autumn marsh provides colors as beautiful as any throughout the year

I love the look of the marsh in autumn, the subtle yet beautiful colors reflecting in the still dark water. The vibrant colors of summer are gone since the hand of Jack Frost touched the landscape. All too soon the landscape will turn to black and white so I hope the colors of autumn linger a while longer.

Roadside vole hunting is legal for the wild fox, but never for human deer hunters

Roadside vole hunting is legal for the wild fox, but never for human deer hunters

The October weather has been very kind to the farmers, so they’ve been very busy in the fields. The soybean harvest is on and the dust whirls in the breeze around the combine as it makes its way around the brown field. A red fox has discovered that the grassy roadside ditch that boarders the soybean field is a good place to catch voles. Many of the voles had scurried to the ditch to escape the all-consuming combine and the fox spent over an hour stalking them from the road. He would stand perfectly still with his nose twitching and his ears straight up then, like a cat, he would pounce into the tall grass for his prey. I saw him catch three fat voles and I’m sure he caught many more than that. When a noisy truck came up the road, the sly fox simply hid in the grass until it passed then went back to the business of catching his breakfast.

There still are many Canada geese in the area spending their days together preening on the open water. In the evening they fly off to their favorite picked cornfield or soybean field for a nightly meal of grain. With their crops full, they return to the safe open water of the pond to sleep. Before sunrise, they will fly back to the fields for breakfast, and then back to the pond again. Geese put on a lot of miles. They don’t mind flying 200 miles a couple of times a day for a meal of grain. On a good migration night the powerful geese may fly across three or four states before touching down.

It was sunny Sunday so I took a ride down one of my favorite river roads. I wanted to check on a sunny backwater pond in hopes that there might be a few turtles out enjoying the rays. It’s getting late in the year for turtles but, sure enough, there were six painted turtles basking on three different partially submerged logs. I’ve found that turtles are very shy and skittish in the fall, so it’s hard to get a picture before they scamper off into the water. I was parked quite a ways away and tried to be quick and quiet as I raised the camera, yet there was only a single turtle left when the shutter clicked. He was still sitting there as I pulled away.

I don't often see the beaver, but I see his work all along the river road

I don’t often see the beaver, but I see his work all along the river road

As I drove slowly along the gravel river road, I noticed several large trees whose trunks had been partially chewed through by beavers. A couple other large, soft maple trees had been felled. It’s not often I see a beaver on a sunny day and today was no exception—I see the beaver’s handy work but no beavers. I turned my attention to a flock of twenty bluebirds that were fluttering around in the treetops and power lines. It’s a beautiful day for singing a song as I fly along and the bluebirds seemed to be enjoying their trip south.

This young buck is "tasting" the air as he follows a doe

This young buck is “tasting” the air as he follows a doe

Monday morning a pretty doe nibbled at the fallen apples under the tree near my house. She hadn’t been there long when suddenly she bolted out of the yard and across the creek. She stood in the tall grass with her ears raised high, watching to see who was following her. Then a young buck came bounding out of the woods and stopped in the yard where the doe had been. He’d been following the doe’s scent and now stood with his head up and his long tongue tasting the air. Putting his nose to the ground, he was soon back on the doe’s trail and in hot pursuit. Of course, the doe knew he was following her but she wasn’t ready to meet him yet, so off she went along the creek to the south with her pesky suitor following, his nose telling him the way to go. Love is in the air for the white-tailed deer. Let the games begin.

A leafless landscape means only one thing in the Kickapoo: winter isn't far away

A leafless landscape means only one thing in the Kickapoo: winter isn’t far away

Brisk winds followed the rain on Friday and the skies were full of falling leaves. The landscape looked much different by Monday morning as the autumn colors now covered the ground, a leafless scene that offered the first glimpse of what is to come—winter!

Naturally yours,

Dan