Saturday, May 30, 2015

Bat Hotel with Pond View

Large native area in the back of the Mount Pleasant Village Hall 2014
For several years I have been concerned about the plight of the honey bees, hive collapse, and the disappearance of Monarch butterflies in the Midwest. The media mentions these problems from time to time and I’ve done quite a bit of research on these topics, to see how I can help. Now as a master gardener volunteering at the Mount Pleasant Village Hall, I hope I can help the pollinators a little bit. Native plants and other flowers which the butterflies and hummingbirds like have been planted in the gardens and rain gardens around the property.  But what about the bats?  They are considered as pollinators too.

Yes they are creepy, and as I child I had two run-ins with them, but I’ll spare you the details.  Bats are having problems too.  My neighbor has a bat house in her yard for years, it looks interesting but I never really considered using one myself.  Now I’ve rethought the problem, maybe we can help them a little at Mount Pleasant.
Here is the Bat House, just purchased, before installation. 12" x 18" x 5".
When shopping at the local garden center there was one for sale under $50.  So I proposed the purchase and installation to Logan Martin who coordinates with me and the Master Gardener program.  He said “yes,”  and today the bat house was installed!  I have accomplished another step in my goal to help pollinators.

 So what’s the big deal?  Bat houses should be placed on buildings or poles a minimum of 15 feet above the ground.  How would I get a tall enough ladder over there, to nail one up?  This is where Logan helped. He arranged for me to meet with Bob at the Dept. of Public Works; we decided where it would go; and he arranged for a truck with a cherry picker and an able person to hang it for us.

Ideally, a bat house should face the Southeast, it needs to be up high, and have plenty of open space for the bats to approach the box.  They need to be in a sunny spot where the temperatures inside reach 80-100 degrees!
The rear of the salt shed has an eastern face, the house will be installed on the SE corner

This morning, May 28, I met Peter Shilling behind the Mount Pleasant salt shed, we discussed a few things before he climbed into the cherry picker.  Then up he went with some tools and the house, it was secured into place with long wood screws so that high winds would not knock it down, the sun can warm up the box, and now it’s ready for occupancy.
Peter Shilling installing the bat house, slightly above 15 feet from ground level
Thank you Peter, for helping to install the box.  The open bottom and side ventilation holes can be seen.
To me, the location seems perfect. The box is placed up high enough, in a spot near water, the little retention pond should offer a lovely view as well as plenty of bugs. It is on the back side of the municipal salt shed, so it is away from where most people would be walking to and from the village buildings.  Will some nice bat family find our cozy hotel and move in?  From my research, I find it is possible that it could take a year or two until that happens.  For now we wait.  The red carpet is out.
Here is the view of the pond, which the bats will enjoy when living in our bat hotel!

Helpful links for bat enthusiasts: 

Follow all the links and you will learn all kinds of stuff.

Kind of batty,
Ann Fahl

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Mother's Day Treat

Trillium in the Sun, quilt by Ann Fahl, 43 x 43 inches
 This weekend I was going to treat myself to a gardening weekend.  This means no household stuff, no family history research, just playing outside in the dirt!  All winter I look forward to this time of year and now it's here.

It turned cold last night, a new front came through and it rained all night.  There will be no gardening today while the temperature is in the 40s.

The good news is that the trillium are blooming and they are wonderful. My woods is full of these lovely white flowers. When this happens I try and design another trillium piece in my head.

Ann Fahl

Friday, April 10, 2015

A Puddle in the Basement for Inspiration

You never can tell when an event might trigger some inspiration or a memory.  In Wisconsin yesterday, we had terrible rainstorms with tornado warnings.  Late morning when I returned home from errands I saw I had a small leak in my studio.  This happens when either the sump pump or the down spout near the door is clogged. 

I ran to the basement and got my basket full of rags, and threw them down to soak up the moisture on the carpet. Then proceeded to look outside for the cause of the problem.  When I finished with all my delightful tasks, a threw all the wet rags in the washer and dryer. 
This isn't just a rag bag

I'm done mopping and everything has dried out. It's time to put my studio back in order.  It might look to you just like a basket of junk but as I was folding up the cleaned rags I found the most interesting things:

A piece of a t-shirt with some experimental embroidery
My son's t-shirt from college
An old Case IH shirt that they gave away at company picnics when my boys were young
My very first T-shirt purchased at Paducah when my flamingo quilt won a prize
A pair of my husband's underwear
Pieces of my first flannel sheets
The striped towel my grandmother got free in a box of detergent. This is a true relic.

This isn't just a rag bag it is full of family memories!

Ann Fahl

Friday, March 20, 2015

Is Spring in the Air?

Spring in Wisconsin always arrives several months late.  About June 1st is about the time we can plant annuals in our gardens with safety from frost.

Today it's 50 degrees and sunny, so it's time to start crossing stuff off my gardening and bird care list.  I found the ladder, took down the 2 bird houses that I have, emptied them out, and scrubbed them with soap and water.  Each one had several families hatched last year and wow, they were stuffed with sticks and feathers!

My daffodils are showing their little green tips, so it'll be a month until their flowers open up. This is such an exciting time of year.
Tea and Daffodils, quilt by Ann Fahl  22 x 22 inches
The above is my all time favorite April quilt.  I can hardly wait until the daffodils begin to bloom. I have probably a thousand in my yard and last fall we added more bulbs to the main entrance of the Mount Pleasant Village Hall. I hope they look gorgeous and are welcoming to the citizens of our village.

Whenever your spring arrives, I hope you have a lovely one.

Ann Fahl

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Trip to Fort Wayne--I Found It!

It was supposed to be a weekend trip to the family cottage at Winona Lake.  The temperatures were below zero, and snow was in the forecast, so I drove to Fort Wayne to visit my aunt and uncle instead.  They gave me a tour of the city, it is much larger than when I visited as a kid. The most important part of the tour was showing me where the Allen County Public Library was located.

Grace Shaw Harvey, my grandmother
Who cares? Well this library holds one of the largest collections of books for genealogy research in the nation. The genealogy center is on the second floor and there are always librarians and volunteers to help answer questions.

In fact, my grandmother Grace Harvey, did most of her research there.  The building is beautiful, fresh new with lots of windows and books. If Grace was alive today she would love doing research on the computer which gives us access to so much more information.

I spent two afternoons there. The first afternoon didn't accomplish much, but I kind of figured out stuff like where to park, how to use the copiers, where the restroom was, carts for picking the books for study etc. But I did find 5 of the family history books that were on my wish list. The next day I had a specific mission: to find Dr. William Ralston M.D.

There had been a biography about him in a small Indiana publication that included a portrait. I've been trying to locate it for the last several years. I found where the publication was located, but there is one volume for every year, there were at least 100 years.  UGH.  So I asked one of the genealogists for help.  This man looked everywhere and it didn't seem like it could be found.

Dr. William Ralston of Southern Indiana 

Feeling very disappointed, I went back to my work table to clean up my stuff and get ready for the drive home.  All of a sudden this guy came into the study area, waving a book, saying "I found it." William was born in Scotland 1786.  He became a doctor in 1815.  Within several years he and his wife Agnes with 2 daughters sailed to America.  He arrived in southern Indiana via the long route taking waterways and rivers all the way from Newfoundland to Madison IN.

He had a fascinating history with a large territory for his medical practice and pharmacy,  his wife going with him to act as a nurse.  They had a total of 8 children.  One daughter named Ann born on Christmas day in 1836 and died on Christmas of 1920; became my great great grandmother. It is so wonderful to find your ancestors, especially if they have made a contribution to their community. But I have one question: How did Agnes have time to raise 8 children and be William's nurse?

Not quilting, but having fun,
Ann Fahl