Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween *****WARNING- NOT FOR THE SQUEAMISH*******

When our family visited a Holmes County Amish farm open to tourists, several Amish in the community had gathered at the farm to butcher pigs. As we walked over to get a buggy ride, I saw a cat gnawing on something strange. It turned out to be the head of one of the two pigs that were butchered. To see a dozen or so Amish men standing around, cleaning meat, creating sausage and rendering lard was quite a sight. I imagine that my ancestors butchered pigs all the time just to have something to eat and didn't think twice about it. Today, I don't see what goes into the pork chop that I buy at the grocery store. The Amish seemed to be using everything from the pig except the heads, which this cat gladly nibbled from. Happy halloween, and I apologize if this is entirely too gross.


P.S. Check out my Sky Watch contribution at Tom Arbour Photography.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Back from Amish Country

If you haven't been to Ohio's "Amish Country in and around Holmes County, Ohio, in a while, you might be in for a surprise. It is ridiculously commercialized and full of people. At certain points on Saturday, I thought some giant person had grabbed me up and plopped me down in the middle of an imaginary swiss village that would be found at some place like Disney's Epcot center. Overall, the experience wasn't bad, it actually was quite good. Megan and I had a great time with my parents and brother. I just wasn't ready for the people and the commercialization that has occurred over the past 15 years since I last visited the area.

To follow up on the plant quiz from Friday, the small trailing vine in the photographs was actually cranberries. I'm not sure if they were small or large cranberries-- both species probably at the bog. I ate some of the berries- a little tart but not too bad. A little sugar and they would be ready for the thanksgiving dinner table.

This week I'm participating in the "that's my world meme" over at my new photography blog. This week's contribution is a scenic view of Ohio's Amish country. For my next blog post here at Ohio Nature, I'm going to leave it up to you- Would you like to see an interesting but fairly graphic picture (not for the squeamish) of Amish life, or would you rather see a scenic view?


Friday, October 24, 2008

Sky Watch Friday- Fall at Little Pond

Fall at Little Pond in the Oxford Hills region of western Maine. The red shrubs in the foreground? Huckleberries.

See more here.


The Plants of Little Pond Day 2

Hi All- I had some computer problems last night, and wasn't able to post the answer to the plant quiz like I had promised. Would you believe that the yellow shrub is actually a pine tree? It is tamarack, Larix laricina. Usually, they are tree-like, but this one was behaving as a shrub. The stringy shrub in the picture is leatherleaf. Both of these species are potentially threatened in Ohio. The best place to see them is in the bogs of Northeast Ohio, like Triangle Lake and Kent bog. Also, the red stuff? It is a species of sphagnum moss that is quite attractive. I've seen reddish sphagnum at Kent and Triangle, but at little pond, it dominates certain areas, and as Lana said, this scene was almost completely void of any blue or green tones, just reds and yellows.

Here's another plant shot from the bog and little pond, and I hope this one is more familiar to everyone.

Any guesses? This photo is shot with an extreme wide angle lens that I rented for our trip to Maine. I decided on the Canon EFS 10-22 from, and what fun I had with it. Although landscapes are what you typically think of when thinking wide angle photography, I tried taking closeup up shots of various subjects, including this scene of the Sphagnum moss and today's mystery plant.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Bog of Little Pond

Yesterday's scene of the bog lit only by the light of the moon was interesting, but you really couldn't make out any of the plant species that dwell in this interesting community. Here in Ohio, we have bogs- we used to have more, but they have been drained and mined, so the very few that we have left are mostly state nature preserves. But in Maine, bogs are a dime a dozen. What is most interesting to me is see how plants that are very rare here in Ohio are dirt common in Maine.

Here you can see two of Ohio's potentially threatened species that are really common up where Megan's parents live. Can you guess these pick out these two plant species? I'll give you a hint: they are on Ohio's rare plant list. If you've been to Triangle Lake Bog or Kent Bog in northeast Ohio, you have surely seen these species.

Finally, anybody have an idea what that red stuff is?

Answers and more plants tomorrow.


Monday, October 20, 2008

A Clear Night at Little Pond

This shot is lit only by the light of the moon, stars, and Megan's Parent's house. Exposed for 4 minutes at F22 with the Canon EFS 10-22 lens.

What an amazing place little pond is, and this was the first time I captured the bog and boardwalk at night. The moon bright, the sky was clear, and I didn't even need a flashlight to set up my camera. Notice how the boardwalk is sharp, but the rest of the image is definitely soft. The wind probably moved the vegetation, resulting in the soft background but the boardwalk and soupy wet peat weren't moving at all.

The question here? What is that white thing to the left of the boardwalk? I should have taken it out of the photo when I shot this one, but it wasn't bright enough to see everything. Any guesses? A hint: the pond is right behind the camera, at the end of the dock.

To see a larger version on black, as always, go here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

We're Back from Maine

And, I have created a new blog to feature my photography. I choose a URL that might suggest it will just be macro photography, but here, any type of photo will go. I just tried my best to come up with a catchy title. At the new blog, there will be no words, just pictures.

And I have posted the first large image of what I expect to be many more. What a wonderful time we had in Maine. The foliage was blazing with light.

See one of my favorite shots from the trip at:


Thursday, October 09, 2008

Wrapup of our Highbanks Hike

I was able to capture these photographs using a setting that I discovered deep within the menus of my Canon Digital Rebel XTI camera during our trip to Highbanks Metropark. If you don't recognize this critter, it is a developing human being. That is right, Megan and I are slated to become parents, if everything goes well, around February 27, 2009. We are excited, to say the least. Tomorrow, we will be exactly twenty weeks into the pregnancy, half way there. Ok, I have to fess up. I really didn't capture these images on the trip to highbanks. Our doctor did, at an office, using this interesting GE digital camera with a very strange lens which you smear some clear jelly like stuff on. Fairly amazing camera, isn't it? I wonder where I can get one of those myself!

Everything came out well. See the lines? The doc drew eyes and a smile right on the pictures. And we did not want to find out the sex- we'll wait for it to be a surprise. Still though, we were nervous. I don't think I've ever hoped for something to be more "normal" than any time in my life. Just counting limbs was a big deal. Does it have two arms? Yes! Two legs, yes! This should be a fun ride. Hopefully blogger will be around long enough for our child to read this very post. That is weird, isn't it?

Meg and I are often to Maine tomorrow, what will probably be our last trip until the baby is ready to travel. Pretty cool, eh?

Wish us luck!

Tom & Megan

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Highbanks in Bloom


There are plenty of interesting flowers blooming in the fall. Some plants grow all year and don't flower until very late. Why are we so fascinated by flowers? Is it because they bear fruit? Because they represent new life? I'm not sure, but we as humans certainly have an innate attraction to them.

To make this an educational post, I have marked one of the photos with a question mark below the image. Whoever (or is it whomever?) guesses correctly the genus of this plant, common name or scientific name (both would really be impressive) wins the very unofficial "Botanist of the Day" award, which I have just made up. Good luck. Tomorrow, I wrap up our highbanks series before we are off to Maine on Friday. And, don't forget the major announcement as well.


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Olentangy at Highbanks

On Sunday, Megan and I took a walk at highbanks metropark, about 4 miles north of where we live. The river is the same, just a little further north, and a little more wild. Over the next few days, I'll share photos from our adventure, culminating with a major announcement at the end of the series.

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Fowler Woods Sate Nature Preserve

A kingnut aka shellbark hickory (Carya laciniosa)
A few shots from my trip today to Fowler Woods State Nature Preserve. The purpose of the trip was to help my colleague from the Forest Service collect Ash seeds. These other things caught my eye as well.
A western chorus frog.
A pumpkin ash (Fraxinus profunda) samara that had pierced a spicebush (Lindera benzoin) leaf.

Slug and eggs.

To learn more about Fowler Woods State Nature Preserve, go here.

And to see more pictures of animals, check out Camera Critters.
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Wednesday, October 01, 2008


Hi All-

Can you believe that it is fall already? Amazing. I remember how we were all just pining for spring. Meg and I are are taking in the baseball game on the couch right now- L.A. vs. Chicago tonight. The field season is finally coming to an end- the frost will hit soon and kill most plants. Still, I have one more trip scheduled tomorrow to collect ash seeds at Fowler Woods State Nature Preserve with a colleague from the U.S. Forest Service, and a trip to Lorain County scheduled the day after Columbus day.

And guess what? Megan and I are going to Maine one week from tomorrow. We'll be there in the height of what Mainers call "leaf peeping season", when tons of out-of-staters flock to the state to take in its scenic beauty. I can't wait- I've never been to Maine at this time of year.

And to capture Maine photographically, I've once again turned to Roger Cicala and I just put in a order for the Canon EFS 10-22 mm lens for my digital Rebel XTI. This lens allows super wide angle capabilities, and I can't wait to attach it to my camera. I've been reading up on several articles on how to use wide angle lenses, the best one is here.

If you own a DSLR camera, and haven't visited, you are missing out. This will be my third rental from them, and I've been impressed. They rent Canon, Nikon, Sony, and Olympus lenses and camera bodies. Renting lenses has allowed me to shoot with some of the best glass Canon makes, but without emptying our bank accounts.

I've been working on a post about two dragonfly species that are Franklin County records (never been found before in Franklin County) It is a bit of a long story, so I've got plenty of pictures, text, and hopefully a few maps. Look for it soon.