Monday, May 23, 2011

Ultra crane experience moving closer

By David Horst 

Photo courtesy of
Fox Cities residents soon will have less than an hour’s drive to watch big white birds following ultralight aircraft.

The Whooping Crane Recovery Team, which has been teaching captive-raised crane babies how to migrate to Florida from the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in central Wisconsin since 2001, is not seeing the desired nesting success when the birds return to Necedah and is looking to give them a new summer home.

And the winner is … the White River Marsh Wildlife Area just west of Berlin in Green Lake County. 

It’s a 40-mile ride from Appleton, compared to the 100 miles to Necedah. Joe Duff, CEO of Operation Migration, the nonprofit that supplies the expertise, air power and parade of support vehicles for the crane training and fall migration, says his team has a memorandum of understanding in hand for use of the state land from the Department of Natural Resources and only a little red tape – such as verifying adequate insurance coverage – remains.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Monday, May 2, 2011

Tornado carries off hay farm's future

By David Horst

Delores and Russell Miller and what's left of their barn.
Russell Miller has been outfoxing Mother Nature for years.

It's part of the job description for a farmer who sells hay. When he cuts his alfalfa, he's betting against nature that he can put together four straight dry days to be able to claim: "Hay for sale. Not rained on. No mold."

On April 10, Russell and his wife Delores beat nature in a big way, though they willingly admit it was luck or divine intervention.

At 6:30 p.m. that warm and pleasant Sunday, the Millers were enjoying an ice cream at Charlie's Drive-In in Hortonville. An hour later, they were watching a lifetime of farming be wiped out in seconds.

When a tornado decided to drop out of the evening sky over Dale, it chose their farm as its victim. It took the top off of their 40-by-143-foot barn, spread 300 bales of last year's hay to the wind and tossed hay wagons and pickup trucks around like Tonka trucks.