raccoon

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“In the beginning, our plant exchange was really small,” says Elkhart County Park Department Chief Naturalist, Jerry Good. “But, it’s been growing. This will be our fifth year.”

Yesterday, DH and I traded plants with more than 60 friends and neighbors. The sun was out. We met new people. We took home a Rose of Sharon, a tea plant and yellow irises. I petted a baby raccoon.

It was a perfect day.

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One man’s excess might be another man’s garden centerpiece.

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Queen patiently waits while her family trades plants and tours the gardens.

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Steve Ganglo, DeFries Garden Park Caretaker, with orphan, Coonie.

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Who could resist that face? Coonie is being raised on half ‘n half and baby formula.

THE CALENDAR GARDEN

Designed by Jon Curtell, DeFries Calendar Garden has a section for each season. It is further divided by months. Every month features  grasses, bushes, plants and flowers at their peak. Native Indiana plants are on the outside of the garden. Horicultural displays are toward the inside.

 
Pathways representing four lunar equinoxes, form a compass leading to a pond in the middle of the Calendar Garden.

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The pond with it’s water lilies is the garden focal point. There are goldfish and bluegill, too. The bluegill were added because the park department wanted native Indiana fish. Nobody considered size. As a result, the number of goldfish is dropping.

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A patch of green amidst pink lily pads.

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Every month has a lunar marker featuring a distinct moon phase.

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One of the seasonal sections.

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May is in full bloom.

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The back entrance to the house Beth DeFries built and donated to the Elkhart County Park Department. Steve Ganglo, park caretaker and his wife Linda live here now.

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Benefactor Beth DeFries, an amateur botanist interested in preserving Northern Indiana’s native plants, donated her land and house to Elkhart County’s Park Department.

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The owl is waiting. He has his prey in sight.

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The raccoon dares not move.

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He cowers…motionless between the branches.

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There’s a life and death drama going on in our treetops. Do you see it?

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I’ve circled the owl and raccoon to make them easier to find.

I know owls eat mice. I didn’t know they hunted raccoons. But, there’s no mistaking the owl’s intentions.

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His eyes are glued on the raccoon.

I’m hoping this owl has overreached and that his eyes are bigger than his hunting ability.

He’s a Barred Owl. Only, I probably should have said she. According to this Barred Owl site, the females are larger. Of all of the North American owls, the Barred Owl is the species most likely to be active during the day, especially when raising chicks. The chicks leave their nests at 4 weeks, before they are able to fly. They crawl out of the nest using their beak and talons to sit on branches. These owls are called branchers.

Parents care for the young for at least 4 months, much longer than most other owls. Young tend to disperse very short distances, usually less than 6 miles, before settling. Pairs mate for life and territories and nest sites are maintained for many years.

UPDATE: Today we walked the trails and looked everywhere. NO RACCOON FUR.

 More about Barred Owls:Barred Owls (Strix Varia)

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