Signs of Spring: Pussy willows by Hauser Pond.
Crossroads at Big Creek offers programs to learners of all ages. And when I lead nature hikes, I find that the young, the old, and everybody in between have at least one thing in common. Groups of all ages seem fascinated by animal droppings.
The fascination in body waste should not be shocking. Clearly, human babies are aware of their own waste. It’s the first things about which they communicate. And young animals are riveted by their own droppings and those of others. Truth is, animals have good reason to be fascinated by droppings, for the scents they give off provide wild animals with a great deal of information about the age, gender, health, sexual maturity, etc. of the creature which left that particular calling card.
Actually humans can learn a great deal about animals by studying their droppings….or scat, as scientists call it. There is actually is a field of science called scatology through which researchers can learn about the diet and general health of an animal. Because different species have distinctive scat, one can learn to identify animals through the shape, consistency, and size of a deposit.
Everyone Poops is book for children by Japanese writer Tarro Gomi. This classic is based on the premise: “all living things eat so everyone poops.” It been translated into many languages and is loved by children around the world. This book has such universal appeal that a quick visit to You Tube will provide “Everyone Poops the Movie” and a several charming readings. I particularly like the rendition done by Morgan Freeman.
The book starts “An elephant makes a big poop; a mouse makes a tiny poop.”
Here in Wisconsin, we might say that a chipmunk makes a tiny poop, a dairy cow makes a big poop.
How big is a cow plop? The Internet provides a range of answers. After all, there are big cows and little cows and cows producing milk, or not. But several sources estimate that an average dairy cow excretes about 150 pounds of waste a day. Back in pioneer days when a farm had one or two cow, that was just fine because manure is an excellent fertilizer.
But do the math. Hundreds of cows, each eliminating every single day of the year? Some farms have so many cows, they produce more solid waste than a small town.
Oh. my. I don’t even want to think about that much manure, but many people are thinking creatively about exactly that. Some large producers have actually built waste water treatment plants. Other large farms have developed digesters.
According the Environmental Research and Innovation Center (ERIC) at the University of Wisconsin -Oshkosh : “using the biogas available in manure and turning it into electricity has become common at larger dairy farms, reducing phosphate contamination from farm run-off and creating higher quality compost/fertilizer. The process also reduces the need for chemical fertilizers. The industry has shown wet biodigesters have economic viability on these larger farms (over 350 head) and have also allowed rural communities to increase the number of jobs while reducing stress on the environment. While these large digesters are important, small farms are the mainstay in rural communities.
“Building on the success and experience of running the first commercial scale dry biodigester in the Americas, it is the goal of UW -Oshkosh to expand the capabilities of waste management and renewable energy technology to incorporate small dairy farms. The collaboration between an international energy industry leader, a local dairy farmer and the University resulted in the design, and installation of a small farm (50-350 cows) ‘mixed’ plug flow digester.
For those interested, a one-day training session called “Organic Waste Stream Management for Rural Communities and Small Farms will be offered at Crossroads at Big Creek on Thursday, March 19 from 10:00-12:00. This free training, sponsored ERIC and Healthy Water Door County, will be an informational session to educate the public on digesters, nutrient management plans, and to have digester industries come and talk about their products. For information or to register visit uwosh.edu/eric or call 424-3148.
From 6:00-9:00 on March 19, a different workshop, “Brain Injury: Basic Concepts for Those Who Help” will be offered at Crossroads by Door County Human Services. Dr. Donald Mickey, neuropsychologist from Madison will present on the unique challenges involved in supporting individuals who have suffered trauma to the brain. The unique problems often experienced by individuals with injuries will be reviewed. This presentation will afford participants the opportunity to discuss concerns identified in their work.
Crossroads at Big Creek is a donor-supported preserve offering programs for learners of all ages in science, history and the environment. The Collins Learning Center, located at 2041 Michigan, is open daily 2:00-4:30 and during scheduled events. Unless we receive significant snow, all trails are open for hiking and biking.
Thursday, March 19
10:00 Organic Waste Stream Management for Rural Communities and Small Farms
This free training will be an informational session to educate the public on digesters, nutrient management plans, and to have digester industries come and talk about their products. For information or to register visit uwosh.edu/eric or call 424-3148.
6:00-9:00 “Brain Injury: Basic Concepts for Those Who Help”
Dr. Donald Mickey, neuropsychologist from Madison will present on the unique challenges involved in supporting individuals who have suffered trauma to the brain. The unique problems often experienced by individuals with injuries will be reviewed. This presentation will afford participants the opportunity to discuss concerns identified in their work. Free. Sponsored by Door County Human Services.
Saturday, March 21
7:00 Viewing Night at the Astronomy Campus (Clear Sky Only)
Weather permitting, the Door Peninsula Astronomical Society will hold a Viewing Night at the Astronomy Campus starting at 7:00. Explore Door County’s beautiful night sky with members of DPAS as your guides. Use the Utah Street Entrance (turn at the sculpture of ExoPlanet X) to reach the StarGarden and Leif Everson Observatory. Free and open to the public. Check www.crossraodsatbigcreek.org for cancelation notices.