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Enjoy spring things
Marsh Musings
Dam Witt
American Bittern
King Rail

Spring brings a renewal of our spirits and makes us think about new things. I moved my tomato plants to a new place where I’ve never had tomatoes before. Apparently, the soil gets depleted of some minerals or develops some fungus that stunts the growth of the plants. We will see. My asparagus has gone bonkers this spring. That bed is also aging, so I am planting new rows of 3 year crowns.  

There are so many master gardners in our area. I am always amazed at the Farmers Market in Great Bend with so many different and wonderful choices. Those bakery and jelly/jam specialty items always grab my attention. Don’t go there hungry.

I haven’t heard about the protocol for the market in these viral times. I hope it gets to open and function.  

I will tell you an asparagus story from my days as a physician. A gentleman came in for a routine check and we started a conversation about gardening. We peeked out my back door to look at the asparagus and he said: “let me tell you a story about asparagus. When my granddaughter was in the 3rd or 4th grade I put about an acre of ground into asparagus plants. We got a couple of wagons to sit on and work the asparagus. We did that every spring and took it to the farmers market. She and I did that together until she graduated from high school. We had enough money to fund her college studies. She missed a few weekends of school and social activities, and I got to know and spend quality time with my granddaughter. She knew the value and source of her college education.” That story put asparagus in a completely different light as opposed to just a wonderful vegetable for the table. The simplicity of hard work and dedication always seems to make us better folks. It seems pretty normal in our area and always makes me proud.

The Bottoms are busy at this time. Lots of new birds. I saw the first Bittern of the year a couple of days ago. Bitterns and rails are about the most secretive birds in the marsh and it is always special to find one that will give you a peek. There are several different kinds of rails — I will show you a King Rail and an American Bittern for photos this week. Bitterns stick their beaks in the air and don’t move a muscle until they launch. They have a really ugly “squawk” when they take off, and always seem to be unhappy or aggravated about something. Great Blue Herons also are cranky. Probably the most cheerful bird in the marsh is the Ruddy Duck. Their little tails stick up and the males have a bright blue bill in breeding season. There are lots of them out there right now. I’ve wasted a lot of time just sitting and watching those little guys. Just another bird that makes us happy and gifts us with their presence.

Stay alert on the roads at the Bottoms right now. Lots of our reptile friends and snakes are moving around and crossing the roads. Don’t make them hawk and raptor food by smashing them with your tires. They don’t understand traffic and that makes it our responsibility just like motorcycles and kids. Everyone has a place.

Plant some asparagus and water your tomatoes.  Life goes on ...


Doctor Dan Witt is a retired physician and nature enthusiast.