Today is Sunday, August 20, 2017

A Diorama, What's That???

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Diorama of Bairds Mill

Well, what a sweltering week we had, I didn't know that I could sweat so much, just by walking outside. We've seen hotter, but that is usually reserved for August. It kind of makes it easier to can tomatoes when they come off the vine half cooked.

Anthony Gray picked me up almost bright and early, forget about the early and we will focus on the bright. The sun was shinning, but the birds were drowned out by the huge vocals of the cicadas that we encountered all over the county. Some of them were what I call, "Dog Day" Cicadas, but there were others that was joining in on the singing too.

We headed out to the Cedars of Lebanon State Park where we ran into park manager, Wayne (Buddy) Ingram. Since he has been in that position, I have already seen many changes to the park, and all are good, and beneficial.

If you go out to the park, make sure you check out the new diorama of Baird's Mill, inside the Dixon Merritt Nature Center. A diorama is a miniature 3 dimensional model of something, most often found in a museum. When I first gazed upon this, my jaw dropped. It is so cool looking, to borrow a metaphor from our young people. In my early days, things were "groovy".

I had always heard of Baird's Mill, but in my mind, I only thought that it was a place where people brought corn or wheat to be ground. It was much more going on there than just a grist mill. I will mention a few things that I'll bet you didn't know.

Baird's mill was built by Seldom Baird in 1882. There was no water wheel that made thing work, but it was all powered by a steam engine. It supplied lumber especially for the community that sprang up in close proximity to it. The real shocker to me was that they made whiskey on site too. Crystal Springs Distillery actually used the iron free water flowing out of Jackson Cave to make their whiskey.

Leaving the nature center, we always like to drive through the campground because of the many birds that call the area home. There is several families of woodpeckers that investigates my CD of bird songs. Two weeks ago when we were camping, I called up a large family of Red-bellied Woodpeckers that came into camp, trying to find the strange invader of their territory. Most of what we could hear was those dadburn cicadas again.

Headed out toward Norene, we discovered that the County had paved the road, about time. It rode smoother than a baby's bottom. Stopping out in my favorite deciduous tree area, I could hear the song of the Red-headed Woodpecker above the drone of the cicadas singing there.

We drove down Beech Log Road, which is probably one of the highest elevations in Wilson County. Red tailed Hawks soared over open fields looking for the slightest movement in the grass below. Several small rabbits darted over the roads, just missing the wheels of our vehicle. They were lucky this time. Hawks have such good eyesight, they can spot a field mouse from several hundred feet in the sky.

Driving through Watertown, the area looked almost like a ghost town. Everyone must have been inside enjoying the soothing comfort of their air conditioners. We head our Holmes Gap Road where we find a plethora of Eastern Bluebirds and Indigo Buntings. Even with my parabolic microphone, it was hard to hear the birds singing because of the cicadas. They were everywhere. OK, Anthony, lets head to Peking, where we enjoy a great meal.

Back home, it's time to change out and clean my Hummingbird feeders. One male has to wait just outside my kitchen window until I finish the task. With fresh nectar supplied, it didn't take him but a few seconds to return for a drink. Watch out for "brain Freeze" as I keep my juice in the refrigerator. I talked to Barbara Smith about an absence of Hummers in her yard. Sometimes the Hummer juice sits in the hot sun for days on end and can actually ferment, turn to alcohol. We do not need any inebriated Hummingbirds buzzing around our neighborhood. That would be like an accident just waiting to happen.

I have been asked by several people to repeat the formula for Hummer juice. It is 1 part sugar to 4 parts hot water, stir until it dissolves. Let it cool before placing outside in your feeders. I store mine in the fridge for several weeks before having to make more. Please "DO NOT" put red food coloring in the juice, as their tiny bodies don't need it.

Toward the end of August and into September, we should see a huge influx of Hummers headed south. At this time, I place out at least ten feeders in various places in the yard. It is easy to have close to fifty Hummingbirds at any given time during migration here at my house. When Anthony and I sit outside, it's a wonder that we don't get hit by one.

I would love to hear from you as to what's lurking about in your neighborhood and at your feeders. You can write me at 606 Fairview Ave., Lebanon, TN, 37087, or e-mail me at, rpope15@bellsouth.net

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Our Feathered Friends
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Anthony Gray, Ray Pope, Seldom Baird, Wayne Ingram
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