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Shadow: Even fish and mushrooms like this weather

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The Mackinaw River State Fish & Wildlife Area in Tazewell County provides an excellent place to hike and look for birds and wildflowers.

Realizing that the weather changes every hour in Central Illinois, I’m going out on a limb to do some bragging about the weather we're having as I write this.

Eighty degrees and sunny is wonderful even if the wind is howling about 40 miles per hour. Probably it’ll be raining by the time you see this and you’ll all think I’m nuts, but that’s OK. I’m enjoying the sunshine as I make a new elevated tomato planter for Rosalie.

I used a big plastic container, cutting it off to about 16 inches high and screwing it to a pallet that was cut to the same size. A wooden rim secured to the top, adding rigidity to the cut edge and also made it look nicer. The tomatoes grow better if they are proud of their environment.

Darrell brought Rosie over a load of black topsoil since there’s not an ounce of black soil on this farm. We drilled holes in the bottom and placed several inches of straw over them to delay them plugging up. Then we added 14 inches of topsoil to complete the project. Got some big boys and better boys in the ground, and I'm looking for some ripe tomatoes.

Lots of mushroom and fish stories this week with all the local lakes, ponds and wooded areas producing fine table fare. I even found a mess of mushrooms while cleaning up out behind my barn. I’m thinking that the manure from my ol' mare may add to the size and quality of next year's crop, so I’m going to fertilize the area where I found them and see what happens.

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I saw nice pictures of both crappie and bass from all of the local waters. They seem to be biting on artificial offerings just as good as minnows.

I spent too many hours on horseback to have any personal fish stories, but that’s the way it goes. Maybe this next week I can reverse that. I try to put as many hours on my horse and my bass boat as I do on my lawn mower, but that’s hard when the grass is growing this fast.

Maybe I’ll have to do at least one of the processes in the dark. My grasshopper has headlights, unlike my horse or my boat, so I guess I’ll have to mow in the dark.

The farmers are doing a lot of field work now and this puts them on the roads more, making two additional hazards. The first is their presence on the road with the big equipment and the second is the presence of deer running across the roads having been spooked by the equipment close to their habitat.

I was horseback riding along a fence row a few days ago when seven deer jumped out into the field ahead of my ol' mare. She thought sure they were going to eat her but soon calmed down and enjoyed the view as I did. We are sure fortunate to live in a time and a geographical location where we can enjoy these and many other outdoor activities. I urge you to get out and take advantage of God's creation in all of its wonder.

Dave Shadow is an outdoor columnist for the JG-TC.


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