After a seemingly eternal winter and some late snowfalls, it’s finally looking and feeling a lot more like spring in Northfield. One of the most noticeable harbingers of the new season is the sudden outburst of birdsong around campus.
Monday of last week, Arboretum staff, student workers, and community volunteers kicked off the prescribed burn season in the Arb with a small fire in the 2003 prairie of the lower arboretum. Known as a burn break, it didn’t cover a full zone, or much acreage, but rather burned along a mowed path in the prairie to improve its ability to act as a firebreak in subsequent burns.
Although the mid-week snow (in May?!?) may cast doubts on the presence of spring, the brief warm spell was enough to unleash some hopeful signs. Many of the trees are starting to bud, and if you venture into Stork Forest, many of our spring ephemerals are blooming!
Despite the notable absence of key springtime features like sun, green leaves and grass, and warm weather (not to mention an absence of snow), spring is nearly upon us. Although the sluggish spring has been a bit disappointing, life in the Arb continues more or less as usual.
With the exception of eight holdouts as of Monday, the 514 members of the Class of 2015 finished declaring their majors by 5:00pm last Friday. Continuing with last year’s trend, Biology once again had a strong turnout, and the growth in Computer Science majors continues again this year.
Seeds Farm is a four-acre sustainable, diverse farm just one mile south of Northfield. We produce over 100 varieties of delicious vegetables. We also raise happy laying hens and several contented hogs in our pastures.
Despite our own disbelief that spring is just around the corner, all we have to do is look up now and again see that spring is truly on its way. The sight of migrating birds returning from their warm wintering grounds is something that’s seen every spring, but is truly never more welcome than when snow and 30 degree weather extends into mid-April.
If you’re in the Arb this spring, particularly in the floodplain or near the banks of the Cannon River, there is a slim chance that you will see a Wood Turtle, also known by its Latin name Clemmys insculpta, a threatened species found in Minnesota.
In the middle of December, during one of the coldest weeks of the year, I found myself driving out of the Portland cityscape to the beautiful Washington countryside near Ephrata to meet some pigs.
With last week’s fresh snowfall, now is a great time to strap on your snowshoes and head out into the Arboretum to look for tracks. Track identification can show us a lot about the behavior and movement of an animal, as well as its favorite haunts.
The Tree Removal grant project in the Arboretum is already well underway. Three of four sites have already been cleared of non-native trees and invasive brush. However, some arboretum visitors have wondered why the trees and bramble were removed in the first place.
This Tuesday was Mardi Gras, and Bon Appétit at Carleton celebrated in style. For breakfast, students could have traditional New Orleans style “donuts” at the Wild Thymes Beignet bar.