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The Farm Bleat: A day in nature leads to sightings of swans, pheasant, deer and bald eagles

Coverage of the Minnesota Governor's Pheasant Hunting Opener got Editor Julie Buntjer out of Worthington and into nature Friday afternoon and evening.

Fall colors
The grove on the Buntjer family farm sported a variety of hues last week before the winds came and stripped many of the trees of their colorful leaves.
Julie Buntjer / The Globe
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The tree outside my home office window is still desperately holding onto its leaves, ranging from shades of green to yellow, orange and the vibrant red that is my favorite of all fall leaf colors.

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I look out and wonder where the time has gone, and then I see Miss Chloe curled up in a ball in her favorite perch on the couch, her nose buried in her belly fur, and think I should turn up the heat another notch.

Autumn is by far my favorite season — the time of year when the windows are opened (even though the dust accumulates faster on my furniture), the A/C and heat are off, nature beckons me to be outdoors, the combines chew through acres and acres of corn and soybeans and the area’s grain elevators and soybean crush facilities give evidence of a bountiful harvest.

On Friday, I visited the Schwessinger Wildlife Management Area northeast of Wilmont and, after parking my car, I watched a beautiful pair of trumpeter swans fly overhead. Later, while visiting with DNR, U.S. Fish and Wildlife and Pheasants Forever folks at the site, we saw a pheasant rooster glide into established prairie cover across the road.

Julie Buntjer
Julie Buntjer

I’ve been watching the deer too — Mom has four does hanging around the yard at the farm, there’s a trio that come out to forage just south of Worthington’s Puppy Park most evenings as dusk approaches, and the drive home from the Ransom Ridge WMA on Friday evening resulted in the sighting of not just a couple of deer escaping the path of a combine, but a pair of bald eagles perched in a tree on conservation lands.

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Too often I think life has us so busy that we forget to enjoy what surrounds us. It’s why I appreciate those friends on social media who post pictures of brilliant sunrises and sunsets, and the farmers in my social feed who take photos from their combine under sunshine and moonglow.

It takes me back to my rural roots — even though I live in what most consider a rural farming community.

When I was a kid, fall on the farm meant adding the buck to the pen of breeding-age does in my goat herd, a long-awaited and much-appreciated break from twice-a-day milking (by hand), selling off the spring wether lambs and enjoying any extra free time the aforementioned tasks created.

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Sunlight reflected off the snow behind them in a shimmer of brilliant orange and gold.

I don’t know how much free time there was, though, since there was always a need to trim hooves, carry ground corn from the feed shed to the barn and toss grass and alfalfa square bales from the haymow to the alley below. It was hard work back then — good work — that always resulted in a sense of accomplishment.

There was no ATV to drive around the farm, but back then, I probably didn’t appreciate the view of Peterson Slough, Lake Ocheda and the Ocheyedan River as much as I do now.

Being in nature brings about a sense of peace — a sense of calm in a world that sorely lacks both these days between political bashing, the war in Ukraine, and victims of hurricanes, wildfires and gun violence.

If only we could all find and focus on the common ground that brings us together.

Perhaps what is needed for all of us is a day spent in nature — and there’s no time like the present.

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Members Only
Sieve has traveled the world to explore wildlife in their habitats, but his favorite subject is the white-tailed deer found near his hometown of Wilmont, and his home today in southeast Minnesota.

Opinion by Julie Buntjer
Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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