The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Ustream

NT Greek Lessons - Thursdays, 7 PM.

Saved worship files and Greek lessons are at the live worship link.

email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
which works as gregjacksonedlp@gmail.com too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
Book of Concord Selections
Bente's Historical Introductions,
and Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Diapers in the Rainbarrel - The Grackles Are Back

The common grackle is a member of the crow family:
grackles invented the disposable diaper.
Their strong sharp beaks are digging up grubs in the soil.

I appreciate the many people who write to say they like the gardening articles. They are the fun part of the day in writing, although polemics can also be a riot. One member looks for articles twice a day. A friend in WELS looks for them three times a day. The Icha-peekers who want a new article at midnight are sometimes disappointed, but I try to begin each day very early with horticulture.

I was standing by the main bird observation post, waiting for some to arrive at the platform feeder when a grackle landed, looked me over, and took some sunflower seeds. That reminded me of the fact that they were leaving their diapers in the rain-barrels again. That item - disposable bird diapers - intrigued me when I first learned about it, and readers are astonished by it. The baby grackles form little diapers rather than marking the nest area by firing out of their homes, leaving tell-tale white streaks. Eaglets do, but who want to mess with mother eagle.

The parents drop off the diapers at nearby water sources, supposedly to let them wash away and confuse their natural enemies. Note that these facts assume intention and purpose in the babies and the parents. They used to say "Instinct!" but the enterprise is really a matter of

  • Creation, 
  • Engineering, and 
  • Management. 

All three functions work together to make this happen, and all three belong to God.

Norma Boeckler's robin.


Grackles are different from other birds in leaving their diapers in water sources. One reader said, "Extra vitamins in your rainwater." I never overlook the value of different contributions, because each organic source tends to concentrate one item more than another. For instance, some manures are quite hot (high nitrogen) and better for greening up vegetation: birds and rabbits. They may also be too hot for that same reason, but I never had a problem with rabbit manure mixed with well fed red wigglers, who need nitrogen for their muscles.

Rain is coming again, perhaps, on Thursday, so I am looking at topping off my supply and using more of it on the following sunny days. Rain is the perfect gentle fertilizer for greening up plants and feeding the entire soil universe, which works together to maximize whatever is offered. Last summer was the wet straw era in the sunny garden, which made it a slug paradise. The same garden is not a slug paradise this year because they do not have enough rotten material to enjoy, and the mulch is down where the slug predators can easily reach the slugs. Still, slugs have a vital role in rasping or shredding organic material, to help it rot faster.

Beetles track and eat slugs and their eggs, but another humble creature is a slug foe gourmand as well. As readers may recall, I have doted on the crepe myrtle bush since we moved here, piling up grass, wood mulch, and mushroom compost underneath to feed the future blooms. I have also piled maple leaves up high, an organic pyramid, each winter.

The pyramid was a big circle of rotting leaves underneath the bush, then it was gone, somewhat blown away in the spring by the wind, but also drawn into the ground by earthworms and eaten by other soil creatures - like mites. Then I saw the moles feeding tunnel appear at the base. When the mole was done, the entire area under the bush, where the leaf pyramid had fed the soil creatures, was dug and mixed.



Almost Eden and I had a talk about moles just before. He said, "Am I upset that the moles mix my soil for me? Not at all." What drives lawn-worships nuts is actually good for the soil. No lawn maintenance man can do as much for the soil as the mole does, even if the man walks around the yard with spiked shoes to "aerate" the soil. Yuk, yuk.

Mr. Mole does eat the valuable earthworms, but they always come back in numbers supported by the organics in the soil. The mole does not get rid of that organic matter but recycles it. At the same time he devours delicious grubs. Like the grackle and starling, he is despised for his most noble characteristic - eating the Japanese beetles (June bugs) before they hatch and chew up the roses and other ornamental flowers. Almost Eden said, "I cannot remember seeing a June bug around my place." Nor could I.


Crepe myrtle bushes (not mine)
can be lush with flowers when heavily
mulched during the fall, winter, and spring.