Country Scribe : Eric Bergeson's Weblog

April 07, 2007

Enemy birds



While idly watching the bird feeders tonight, the blurred arrival in a nearby shrub of this raptor caused the entire flock of songbirds to flee in terror and not come back for quite sometime. This is either a Cooper's hawk, or a sharp-shinned hawk. According to internet sources, distinguishing between the two requires that one be an "advanced birder," so I am not going to even try.

However, the description of the bird is interesting. It flies low over marshes and captures song birds in hedge rows with a quick two-foot lunch downwards or sideways. That is a perfect description of how this bird ended up in this perch. Can you imagine how quick you would have to be to capture song-birds, especially when they are obviously inately equipped to know you are coming?

This photo was taken at dusk. I had just finished some exercise, so my hands were wobbly. One out of forty of the photos was clear.



Rarely does a blue jay look this humble. This one looks like the poor girl waiting to be asked to dance at the prom, the one who is mature and quiet and will be a success in time and wow people at the twentieth reunion but who is a duck out of water amongst adolescents.

Enough psychoanalyzing blue jays.

Another fun item from today: Received an email from a friend in Perham asking me to identify a bird in a picture taken by his co-worker. It was driving them all nuts because the bird was so very odd. It took me quite a while, but I finally identified it as an American woodcock. I had never heard of such a thing. Now I have. Pretty soon I might be considered an advanced birder.


April 06, 2007

More Carneal

Here is a great montage of Herb Carneal calling some big Twins moments. There are two no-hitters in the collection. Keep in mind that the last out is likely the first time Herb mentioned the word no-hitter during the game.


April 05, 2007

Blyleven and Carneal

Today was the funeral for Herb Carneal. The Star Tribune reports that one of four eulogies was delivered by former Twins great Bert Blyleven.

Blyleven came up to the big club when he was 19 years old in 1970. He called Herb "Pops," and Carneal became a grandfather figure to young Bert. Bert said today that Carneal, next to his parents, was the person he most admired.

Of course, after retiring from baseball with 287 wins, Bert Blyleven is now a Twins television announcer.

They don't make players like Blyleven anymore. I liked him much better as a player than as an announcer. He was a good, old-fashioned strikeout pitcher. Gritty. Competitive. Mean. Huge curveball, above average fastball. He was my first baseball hero.

The best thing about Blyleven was that he could give up three runs in the first inning, and he often did, and then, after giving up on the game and turning off the radio in disgust, you could turn it on two hours later, and Blyleven was still in there, probably on pitch number 165, with 15 strikeouts, and the Twins had a 7-4 lead.

It was a sad day in 1976 when Calvin Griffith traded Blyleven to the Texas Rangers. Blyleven left on bad terms with Minnesota fans, giving them the bird as he walked off the mound as a Twin for the last time.

But what a great day in August of 1985 when the Twins got Blyleven back from the Cleveland Indians. Those next three years were a lot of fun. I remember skipping out of the wedding dance of one of my best friends with another Twins fan to sit in my car in a pounding thunderstorm and listen to Bert's first game back in a Twins uniform, which he lost 4-3 to the Angels.


More cold

If a person thought about this weather too much, it could get you down. Last night, some people reported below zero. Officially, some areas had as low as 5 degrees above. It looks and feels like January, until you see the geese poking around looking for open water and something to eat.

Dad is keeping the greenhouses above freezing, which is no small task. We had to open the large greenhouse due to a lack of space. To make heating easier, the guys built a partition so the furnace doesn't have to heat the entire 10,000 square feet. Even so, we are going through about 300 gallons of propane per day. This is not natural for April.

The alarms went off at about six a.m. this morning, which indicated that somewhere in the greenhouses it was down to near freezing. Dad then goes out to see how bad it is. If it really got close, I think he would light up some torches.

We had sold a few trees before the freeze-up, but that all stopped with the cold snap. You know, this is a lot like 1997, except for that we didn't have seven feet of snow on the ground to melt. The big final blizzard of about 15 big storms in that year was on April 4, I believe, and it was cold. That took a while to thaw out. So, we've been through this foolishness before.

Today, I drove over to Ada to record radio shows with Woody at KRJB. That always goes well. Woody is a pro, and we got it all wound up in a little less then an hour.

Then I drove down to Detroit Lakes to speak to a dairy farmer's banquet. Their leader asked me to speak on China. China's dairy industry in fledgling. They are just starting to discover milk. As a rule, the Chinese find cheese to be foul. So, there is a lot of work to do if they are going to be a market for American milk products.

The banquet was in a curtained room with no windows. I think everybody was about to go to sleep before I talked, including myself. The meal was turkey, too, which didn't help. After I spoke, I risked offending my hosts by leaving before the keynote speaker, who was going to give a talk on improving your herd.


April 04, 2007

Around the horn

Spent the day on the road. I do radio shows for four local stations each spring. I think this is the twelfth year. Eventually you figure things out. One thing I have figured out is that it is better to make a trip to the studio and do all of the spring's radio shows at once than it is to try to connect by phone three mornings per week.

So, I went to Fosston first and did 18 shows with Phil. What an improvement over last year when I did three per week at 6:30 Friday mornings with Tom. For the past 10 years, Tom's sound board hasn't worked real well, so I could barely hear him ask questions of me--so we had an arrangement where he introduced me and I rambled for two minutes and then quit and he closed it out. Nothing spontaneous.

Phil informed me that Tom is getting a new sound board this week. But no need. I just sat in the studio with Phil, who has a great basso profundo radio voice, and we did the shows one after another.

Then I went up to Thief River Falls to do shows with Linda.

I was early, however, so I went to the newspaper office to see if they had a morgue (the newspaper term for bound stacks of past issues). They did. Publisher John Mattson graciously allowed me to dig into the 1952 volume, and there I found gold. I could have stayed for hours. Most valuable: An article about the regional title game between TRF and Halstad that was almost a basket-by-basket account. It confirmed many details given me by their star Roger Williamson last week, down to some specific fouls he remembered.

Classic headline elsewhere in the paper: "Cigaret smoking may cause lung cancer."

Then over to the radio station for 22 shows with Linda. We used to do the shows over the phone, but when we were in the same room, it worked so much better. You can signal to each other and almost direct the action. It took an hour-and-a-half, but now I don't have to do the ads three days per week early in the morning.

Of course, there were some obvious deceptions and lies. Such as when asked me how Mother's Day went and I responded that we were absolutely overwhelmed. It is likely to happen. I hope it happens. But it hasn't happened yet.


Ortiz comes through

What an encouraging performance by retread Twins pitcher Ramon Ortiz tonight. He went seven innings and gave up only two runs. He looked sharp. The Twins continued to hit. Although the game isn't over, it is all but in the bag, given the quality of the Twins bullpen. A very fun start to the Twins season.


Protest from Alaska

A weblog regular from Alaska writes that Rev. Robin Roaster's assertion that pigeon tastes like chicken lacks credibility. She's eaten pigeon, and it was dark and dry.

Well, I suspect Rev. Robin Roaster was using the phrase in jest. That's just what you say about anything wierd. It taste's like chicken.

I honestly can't remember if we had a pigeon dish in China or not. And I don't intend to have one here. So I really can't settle this cross-continental dispute.


April 03, 2007

Correction

The aforementioned robin-roasting Lutheran minister has sent an email protesting his innocence of the crime of killing, roasting and eating a protected bird. Apparently the bird roasted was a woodpecker and the roasters of the unprotected species were Rev. Robin Roaster's two older brothers. Knowing them as well, I do not doubt it.

Just when Rev. Robin Roaster's reputation was cleared, he sent an additional conscience-striken email confessing to killing and eating several pigeons.

They tasted like chicken.


Sparrow stares and a finch feeding



On this stormy day, various sparrows are starring at the bird feeder. I can't name them. They come in different shades of brown, and for some reason, they seem to glare at the camera.



The sparrows on the ground do a two-foot maneuver where they quickly jump forward and back in hopes of uncovering some fallen seed.



The color on this sparrow stood out from quite a distance. It was the reddest of the lot.



Here is proof that finches don't need niger thistle to survive. A the big sunflower seeds work just fine.

Other bird incidents on this otherwise dreary day: A fairly large bird came cruising over the swamp directly towards the house this morning. It screeched to a halt on a branch, and I could see that it was a raptor, but a small one, possibly some sort of falcon. I ran for the camera, which was in the pickup, but by the time I returned, it was gone.

Apparently, the falcon feeds on song-birds. And the song birds knew it. The feeder, which has been crowded for most of the day, was empty for a good ten minutes after the falcon left.

Later I was up in the crow's nest watching one particular reddish sparrow jump around on the dogwood branches through the binoculars. Of all things, it got its tail caught in a branch and hung there for a bit, bouncing up and down as the branch sprung. It would flap, than bounce up and down upside down, then flap. It was pretty funny. Just when I was about to go out and rescue the thing, it worked itself loose.


April 02, 2007

Immigrants

One of the rewards of writing a mildly controversial column on the immigration issue is that I am still getting nasty emails from people who forward me all kinds of nauseating stories about free-loading pregnant illegal aliens who are filling up the maternity wards in Texas and then demanding, yes demanding, free bilingual education for their newborns as well as full Social Security benefits and the list goes on. The implication is that we should load up all those free-loading pregnant aliens in a Ryder van and dump them on the other side of the border to have their dark-skinned little rugrats who will just grow up to eat junk food and throw out the free lunches that they demand at school.

I kid you not, every one of these scenarios has been forwarded to me. Mexican kids demand free school lunch and then throw it all out. Pregnant aliens get angry when a staff member at the emergency ward doesn't speak English. These people care nothing about our traditions, our way of life, our government, our religious traditions (which I strongly suspect is some form of Protestantism).

Okay, you are pregnant, poor and living near the border. In Mexico, it costs $100 to have a baby in a hospital. You don't have the cash. You cross the border and find some emergency room that will take you (apparently all hospitals are forced by law to admit all illegal aliens and give them first class treatment with celebrity status.)

The situation is far from ideal. But what about a little sympathy for these poor people who are in desperate straits?


Promoting

I spent the weekend doing public relations. That meant spending parts of Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, manning a booth. Dad relieved me Saturday afternoon so I could run down to Fargo and speak to a gardening seminar at the Hjemkomst Center. Meanwhile, Joe did seminars in Thief River Falls on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. And I did a seminar at the Alerus Sunday afternoon.

I ran into several weblog readers over the course of the weekend. Thanks for identifying yourselves! And thanks for reading.

AUNT OLLA had left a couple of messages on my machine over the weekend. I called her this morning. She is falling behind on her work. She has to identify the people in boxes worth of pictures before she dies, and she also has to respond to stacks of correspondence from nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews. The conclusion: She's going to keep taking vitamins, at least through this summer. I suspect she won't be finished with her work then, either.

She's saying that these are her last batch of letters to the relatives, since she is 95 years old, but I really doubt that. She's been saying that for 10 years.

One of her favorites at the Hilton is Luther. He is on the staff. Now Olla has taken to calling Luther "Truman." I am not sure what the story is there, but I am eager to hear it.

Cousin Ilene brought in more of Olla's momentos to be gone through. Included in the pile was a 1897 copy of the Twin Valley Times in perfect condition. Olla wants me to put it on Ebay to see what it is worth. I told her I wouldn't let her sell it, that I want to keep it.

The next question: How much will you give me for it? She's not going to settle for less than $25, and I think that's pretty high. But she's not going to give it to me unless I cough up the cash, which I suspect will burn a hole in her pocket for one full day before it goes to some vitamin company.

WEATHER: A storm is scheduled for tonight, but it seems to me that the weather people are pulling back. Six inches of heavy snow would thrill me. The swamp is filling nicely, but another six acre feet of water would be nice. That amounts to about 1.9 million gallons. If we get that much moisture, then I'll be satisfied, the swans will probably come back to nest, and I can start hoping for sunshine.

A week like this is what you fear in the greenhouse business: All of the greenhouses are open now, the furnaces are sucking up propane, and it is slated to be in the teens. We'll have to have the propane guy come a couple of times this week, and that ain't cheap.

WE WERE TALKING at the lunch table today about the strange foods in China, which included fried pigeon, and somebody mentioned that a former neighbor and present weblog reader who knows well who he is once killed and roasted a robin during his very creative childhood. (At least I hope it was during his childhood.)

He is now a Lutheran minister. What a story that is. "Reformed robin roaster fills local pulpit." One hopes he doesn't backslide.


Twins 7 Ballamore 4

A very satisfying win for the Twins. Santana did pretty well. The hitters were hitting and the bullpen did its job. There were some nice tributes to Herb from other great announcers. And the Dome was packed.


Happiness

Opening Day! Johan will be throwing the first pitch of the season in a few minutes. This is better than Christmas.


Nursery website

Brother Joe is updating the Bergeson Nursery website quite frequently, for those of you interested in more detailed updates of what is going on in the horticulture world in NE Norman County.


April 01, 2007

Herb Carneal

The Twins broadcaster for the past 45 years died today at age 83.

Herb Carneal was the consumate professional. He was understated. His voice was soothing. He kept all but the safest of his opinions to himself. He was not a showman in any sense of the word.

Herb provided the background voice to my childhood, and to the lives of milions of Midwesterners. I started listening to Herb when Grandpa would turn the Twins' broadcasts up to full volume in his living room, or in his office.

I suspect there will be many rhapsodic tributes to Herb in the next few days.