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The Westmoreland Journal
King George, Virginia
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February 25, 2009     The Westmoreland Journal
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February 25, 2009
 

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The Journal, February 25, 2009, Wednesday 7 Low cost therapy can bring home the bacon, too Mark Fike and Scatt Rollin When my phone rings, I normally don't care to answer it very often. What little time I have to myself I prefer to spend doing something away from computers and the other electronic gizmos today's fast pace world relies on so much. ' However, when my phone buzzed a few weeks ago, and I looked at it to see who needed to speak to me. I grinned. The name and number were very recognizable and welcome to ring or buzz me at anytime. Local outdoorsman, skeet shooting extraordinaire and all-around good o1' boy, Scott Rollins, was calling and asked me if I wanted to accompany he and his father on the last day of goose season to a farm about an hour away to do a little goose calling and hunting. Nowifhe had asked me to come shoot skeet with, I would have had to ask the charge for lessons as he and his father are both superb at making clays disappear in a short puffwithout so much as breaking a sweat. But this was goose hunting, and even I could dust a goose now and then and make it drop from the sky. After checking my schedule and realizing it had once again been a very long and tense week, I knew that I really had no choice. I had to go with the Rollins men to regain my sanity. i We agreed on a time and place and arrived within a few minutes of each other. The Rollins men are quite adept at setting up a goose spread and have a keen goose sense that allows them to put honkers on the ground and on the table very reliably. I know because I have hunted with them and have witnessed their skills. This day was to be no different. They did most of the set up and then we got into the layout blinds that they brought along. i Our setup was along a small pond that was a magnet for geese in the area. While thousands of geese would not light in the pond, several dozen could. Gently rolling grain and cow pastures surrounded the pond, giving the geese a place to feed and all but sweetening the package for any pass- ing honkers. The dam was to our left and we had backed up the layout blinds to a few fallen trees among the grass and stubble in the pasture next to the pond. I had to admit I was excited. I knew I was in excellent hands in my field goose hunting class and the morning was promising to be a good one. We were not in the blinds very long when I heard Scott say that we had Some birds inbound. I could hear them honking and Scott soon began coax- ing them in with his Zink call His ability was very impressive. Although the geese were cautious and decided to circle around right over top of us, they eventually came right in over the dam, I remember looking up through the mesh in the blind I was reclined in, watching them float over, wobbling back and forth as they checked out the spread, the pond, and the area in general. I could see individual tail feathers as they went over. It was a gorgeous sight to behold with these seemingly ungainly birds gracefully wheeling over our position. Once they passed around, I heard them come back in our direction and then the curt, "Take EMI" i A few shots rang out as I watched the pair of geese tumble to the pond's surface. We did have some disappointment though as my dog was unwilling to retrieve the geese. Some of the problem was likely a few bad experiences he had a few years ago with a lively goose that decided to hammer him, and some of the problem was his age. I really need to retire him as I could see he just is too old to be called upon to do any heavy lifting anymore. k was a tough call for me to make but it was the only bad moment in the whole day. i Mr. Rollins used some ingenuity and we were able to get the geese off the pond within a few minutes. Another lone goose came in a short while later and Scott promptly splashed him too. It was then that the sun climbed high enough in the sky to begin warming the blinds and making the day very The Rollins men know how to set up a goose spread to bring the geese in and put meat on the table peaceful and therapeutic. The flights slowed down and we had an hour or so of a break but remained in our blinds stretched out in a comfortable reclined posi- tion with just our heads poking out. My dog took a turn stretching out beside me and then moved over to sprawl next to Scott for a while. Resting there in that blind listening the melodies of the birds as the wind swayed the trees and rippled the water while allowing the sun to keep me warm was a bit too much. I caught myself snoring and hoped no one else had noticed. I really did not have to worry too much though as I suspect both of the other men caught a few Z's and counted a few geese-errr I mean sheep--in their blinds too. After another hour or so passed, Scott quickly hunkered down in his blind and told us he heard a big flock making its way toward us. We all waited patiently for them to come streaming overhead. Moments later, a flock of fifty birds or so cupped in behind us right over our heads. The setting sun gleaming on their wings gave their feathers a rich amber shine as they glided down to the serene waters of the pond. With the gentle sun on my face, and my heart thudding against my chest from excitement, time seemed to stand still as I stared up at the birds, which were now right above my head. They dipped and jinked from left to right, making their voices heard as they slowly descended down into range. A few of the lead birds crashed down into the water; Scott gave the firing order again and we sent a few more heavy birds spiraling down to the water. As things began to slow down, we eased back into the blinds and "rested" after trading stories, sharing some hunting lore and discussing some of the latest gear back and forth a bit more before calling it a day. Breathing some good o1' farm air while totally relaxing and even nodding offfor a few minutes made me realize that the best therapy that I ever tend to get is with good friends while on the water or in the fields among God's creation. Nothing beats the cost of such therapy either. You can share as much as you want or as little as you want, and then go home at the end of the day feeling better without a huge bill for the hour or so you might spend in someone else's office. Generally I prefer my office, which is the one I share with friends out of doors. If you ever need some good old fashioned, low-cost therapy and have a good friend or two, grab a fishing rod or a gun and head for the fields, forest or waters. I doubt you end up disappointed. Who knows, you might bring home dinner too! You too can contribute to the scientific record Like Thoreau, I hike daily through the forests and fields surrounding my home. I glimpse fox, bear, and coyote searching for food, and in the sky I often spy nighthawks or monarchs in their cyclical migrations. In winter I taste icicles dripping off cedar boughs, and in summer I yell curses at the snappingturtles invading my pond. I know the hummingbirds arrive from their miraculous journey across the Gulf of Mexico to my home sometime in mid-April. But I've never recorded the exact date of their appearance at my feeders. I believe Thoreau would have re- corded such a monumental date in his handwritten dairies. He kept detailed observations of the natural world around his hometown of Concord, Massachusetts from 1852-1858, and probably he would have recorded the slightest seasonal changes in the appearance of newborn rabbits or flowering bluebells. Today scientists are asking us to fake time as Thoreau did to get utside our comfortable thermostat- flriven temperatures and document changes we see in our environment. They want us to participate in "Proj- ect BudBurst, A National Phenology Network Field Campaign for Citizen Scientists." The project simply asks as citizen-scientists to spend a bit of time outdoors and then enter our ob- servations on the BudBurst website. The more volunteers the better, for that increases the database and less- ens the chance of errors. The database of observations will allow scientists to investigate climate change. Citizen-scientists can monitor almost 4,000 plants through Project BudBurst, but the program specifi- Cally targets 100 plant species that are easily identified and found across the U.S., including common dandelion, ,yarrow, and elderberry. Everyday sightings of when such plants bloom offer scientists a broad vision of how our nation wakes up in springtime. By comparing current observations to ones from years ago, they can answer questions. Are cherry trees blos- soming sooner? Is ragweed releasing pollen earlier? What other changes might be brought on by global climate change? How do these changes affect animal populations? Anyone from children to senior citizens can participate, and many of these plants under study are found in backyards and school grounds. In fact school groups and science classes are strongly invited to join Project Budburst. Dr. Kay Havens, director of plant science and conservation at the Chi- cago Botanical Garden, encourages children to become phenologists. "You can sign in and become a Bud- burst member and record your loca- tion. And after that you can look at species guides, decide which species you want to monitor, watch them in your own yard and then log in and tell us the day that they first come into bloom, or you see the first leaf or you see the first fruit." Phenology is, as Kirsten de Beurs, a geography professor at Virginia Tech, puts it, "the study of periodic biological events," Scientists in this field investigate how non-living fac- tors of our environment such as day length or temperature affect living species and their habits, for example migration or blossoming. Through the years, farmers have used such information to increase crop production, and I personally know when to avoid the ragweed- filled fields in the fall. When the ironweed by Big Branch begins to bloom in its purple glory, my sneez- ing and drippy nose soon follow. By documenting and evaluating even the smallest personal phenological events, we can further understand larger changes in our surroundings. Findings are already being tallied. For example, from Thoreau's time in 1852 to ours in 2006, scientists have found that Concord warmed by 2.4 degrees C. PROAD3U$1 [ THE PERFECT ADJUSTMENT Wellness Should he a Way of Life... For many people, embracing the idea of wellness is a com- pletely foreign concept because they don"t know all of the facets of wellness. Wellness is often ............... . confused with being free of pain. ...... The truth is, wellness : " is very different from being free from pain. Wellness is a way of life. Wellness means that you are en- suring your body for the future. Call Now (540)775-2250 Hours: Mou. 8-6 .Tues., 3-6 • Wed. 8-6 • Thursday Closed • Friday 8-6 • Sat. 8-11 King George Family ChirOpractic 10244 Kings Highway, o°'-oo >.. Journal Complex ,,,,) "On average, plants in Concord appear to flower now seven days earlier than they did when Thoreau made his observations," report state scientists A.J. Miller Rushing and R.B. Primack. They continue, "Most of this change in flowering time is probably due to rising winter and spring temperatures." These rising trends in temperature have been documented worldwide, and they are affecting the flora and fauna around my home too. This year Iwill record the exact date that I spythe first hummingbird quenching his thirst at my feeder. Also I plan to document for Project Budburst the blooming of monarda and lobelia, two flowers that hum- mers love. I think Thoreau would be pleased. For more information go to: http:// www.windows.ucar.edu/citizen_sci- ence/budburst/index.html Sarah Minickteaches reading in Virginia. Distributed by Bay Journal News Service Outdoor Calendar • March 8th --Ice Breaker Tournament at Motts Reservoir. $35 a boat. Proceeds to go towards the Kid's Fishing Derby in June. Fishing from 0730-3:00PM. Open to the public for the tournament and just to fish. Last tournament was won with 3 fish weighing nearly 17 pounds. • March 21st --VDGIF will be hosting a kid's fishing day at Old Cossey Pond in Fredericksburg from 9am-3pm. This free event is open to children 12 and under. The pond will be closed to fishing on Friday, March 20th for stocking and will not re-open to the general public till after 4pm on Saturday, March 21st. Children can harvest 4 trout and 4 channel catfish per person. Registration will begin at 8am on Saturday. Loaner rod/reel combos will be available for children to check out if needed. More infor- mation can be obtained by contacting the DGIF Fredericksburg Regional Office (540-899-4169). • March 21st --Hunter Ed Class at the Marshall Center in Spotsylvania. 540-570-7535. • April 4th --Annual NWTF Dinner and Banquet at 5PM at the Eagles Lodge on Cool Springs Road. In memory of the late Tom Rogers (founder of NWTF in 1973) Call Bill Newman at 361-7824 or Buddy Fines at 775-7294 for tickets. This is a great event for the whole family or a good date for your spouse. The company is good and the food is excellent. • April 4th --Youth Turkey Hunting Day. • April llth --Spring Gobbler Season • April 25th -- Earth Day at Barnsfield and Wayside. Begins at 9 AM. Many events through noon. • May 9th -- Youth Fishing Day. This event went very well last year despite being rescheduled for the evening due to weather. Some very nice fish were caught. Call 775-9780 to get registered. OAK GROVE, VA Montross Rt. 3 West " Rt. 3, East From 301 10 Miles 10 Miles King George [ i1 • GREAT SERVICE/GREAT PRICES! 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