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Notes From The Field Blog



Bethany Majeski

Bethany MajeskiBethany loves her job as a Cleveland Metroparks Naturalist! She spends a great deal of her time trying to inspire individuals to shake up the status quo by growing their own food, cultivating green space for wildlife, building community relationships, and celebrating wellness in nature.

When able to escape from garden chores at home, Bethany and her husband Mike enjoy hiking, camping, foraging and learning to be self-reliant.


Topics

Leeks Are Up!
Posted: 3/3/2016
I’ve never seen leeks up this early, but sure enough, while preparing for our upcoming Maple Sugaring program, I spotted some popping up at the end of February! Wild leeks- Allium tricoccum - also known as ramps or spring onions, are among the very first signs of spring in our forests. They usually pop up sometime in the latter half of March, their determined spears of early growth piercing up determinedly amongst the thawing mud. I usually notice them first while we are out leading tours of our maple s...

 

Don't Blame Goldenrod
Posted: 9/3/2015
Fall allergies got you sneezing and wheezing lately? Don’t blame beautiful goldenrod! Goldenrod plants may look like an easy target for allergy sufferers’ ire, but because they rely on animal pollinators to spread and reproduce, their pollen mainly stays put in the flower, where it awaits for a visiting bee or other insect to stick onto.   So what is making you ah-choo? A likely culprit to look to would be ragweed. Ragweed blooms at the same time as goldenrod, but because its flowers are green and ...

 

10 Things You Didn't Know About Milkweed & Monarchs
Posted: 8/6/2015
Monarch butterflies have been in the news lately, and now more people than ever are becoming aware of just how important one plant can be. Milkweed- the only food source for monarch caterpillars- is quickly catching on as a desirable ornamental garden plant (who wouldn't want monarchs in their yard?) read on to discover more about the amazing relationship of these Ohio flora and fauna: 1.      The scientific name for the members of the milkweed family is Asclepiadaceae, after Asklepi...

 

Ticks Ahoy!
Posted: 6/4/2015
One animal no one wants to encounter on a hike is a tick. These small arachnids crawl onto passing animals like birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals. After embedding sucking mouthparts into their host, ticks feed on blood, ballooning to several times their original size. The most common tick you may encounter on you or your pet, the American dog tick, resembles a grayish, blob-shaped M&M when fully engorged. Gross!  Luckily, it takes several hours for a tick to embed into skin and start feed...

 

Doctrine of Signatures
Posted: 5/7/2015
Did you ever notice that spring wildflowers often have funny names? What’s with “wort” being tagged on the end of these plants? Why the references to human anatomy?  To me, one of the best parts of greeting these early bloomers is getting to know the often-fascinating history behind the name.   The term “Doctrine of Signatures” refers to an archaic belief that a plant’s physical resemblance to a  part of the human body was a divine sign indicating that plant’s medicinal properties. Before...

 

Fresh This Month
Posted: 4/2/2015
It's amazing how quickly spring starts. One week, it's 20 degrees and snow, and the next, green growth is popping up out of the ground. As a homesteader, I try to prepare as much as possible for this sudden burst of energy and life. Often the transition is all too soon, and I am behind in pruning, weeding, planting, etc. before I even get started! As much work as this time of year is, I relish the chance to be back outdoors working in the soil I love. Here's an update on what's fresh and growing right no...

 

White-winged Crossbill!
Posted: 3/4/2015
Well, I had this nice blog all lined up talking about sustainable yard and garden design… but I guess it will have to wait until next month because WE HAVE A WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL AT GARFIELD PARK CENTER!!! ​ It was hard to get a good photo of our shy visitor. Here he is in profile, munching sunflower seeds   I have it on good authority that this migrating bird is a rare sighting for the year, with fewer than five reports state-wide. ​ ​ White-winged crossbills are birds of the northern boreal for...

 

What's Cookin' at Garfield Park?
Posted: 2/4/2015
Garfield Park Reservation’s visitor center is transitioning into an Urban Agriculture Center that promotes homegrown foods and backyard sustainability skills. We have the opportunity to try all sorts of new public programs, and we’re having a lot of fun along the way.   Today, my co-workers and I were cooking up a storm preparing for upcoming programs. Cleveland Metroparks Naturalist Beth Whiteley commandeered virtually every pot in the building as she created natural dyes for an art program. The k...

 

Seed Fever
Posted: 1/1/2015
It may be freezing and gray outside, but in my head, next spring’s garden is in full bloom. It’s that time of year again: the seed catalogs are arriving in the mail. A variety of shapes and sizes from all over the country stuff my postbox, each catalog boasts a dizzying, color-saturated cornucopia of fresh foods across its cover, tempting would-be buyers to open their pages with promises of vegetal nirvana. Some gals might go crazy over shoes or purses, but for me, it’s all about the seeds. I do believe...

 

Five Ways to Eat Local in Winter
Posted: 12/3/2014
More and more folks are catching on to the fact that eating local foods is a great way to support healthy bodies, communities, and environments. The exact distance it takes to make “local food” local varies depending on who you’re talking to. If you find it helpful, think of local food as that which has been grown, produced, and processed within the region you live, generally within about a 100 mile radius.   Food grown locally is, generally, healthier for you. First off, it’s fresher, so it’s high...

 

Adventures in Cheesemaking
Posted: 11/5/2014
My interests lie in creating as much of my own resources as possible. One of my favorite things to experiment with making is cheese. I see it as an art, and love nothing more than to try the plethora of varieties out there. On our yearly pilgrimage to Vermont, my husband always rolls his eyes at me as I wander into cheese stores, inevitably emerging with an odd assortment of wedges and hunks worth a quarter of our mortgage payment. “It’s three-time blue-ribbon winner! Cloth-bound and cave aged!” I defen...

 

Planting Garlic
Posted: 10/2/2014
October is garlic-planting time in Ohio. You may be surprised at just how easy it is to grow your own year’s supply of organic garlic. It’s virtually pest free, not at all fussy, and best of all- the deer don’t eat it! All garlic asks for is some fertile, well-drained soil that gets good sun. To make my planting bed at home last year, I just tilled up some of my heavy clay soil and added generous amounts of compost and leaf mulch. Each clove in a head gets planted individually. I place the cloves about ...

 

Fine Lines
Posted: 9/4/2014
As a professed nature lover, I sometimes find myself in the odd position of rooting against wildlife. I’ve decided to try and grow as much of my own food as possible on my two-acre parcel, and this has placed me at times in direct odds against the wild things that I love.   Last week, a red-shouldered hawk almost flew off with one of my chickens. I was having breakfast inside, and suddenly heard a raucous uprising in the backyard. I flew outside in my pajamas to witness the bird of prey on top of o...

 

Walk a Mile in No Shoes
Posted: 7/4/2014
I had a revelation while walking in the woods the other day: our shoes spoil us.   My husband has been entreating me to hike barefoot for years. “C’mon,” he says, “it feels great.”   No, no, I reply. It’s too hot, too cold, too muddy. The rocks hurt. What if I cut my foot?   My husband shrugs, “you don’t know what you’re missing.”   I’ve always kind of dismissed him. I mean, who wants to walk around barefoot? Shoes keep us safe. They give us traction and balance. And, less practicall...

 

Bugs Are Not Bad
Posted: 5/7/2014
"Bugs," a term loosely applied to insects, spiders, millipedes, and all other creepy crawlies, are everywhere. They run the planet, in fact the vastly outnumber and outweigh us. In the U.S., there are about 400 pounds of insects per acre, compared to about 14 pounds of human flesh per acre. Yes, some of the insects, mites, and other bugs out there can be pests in our gardens. They can transmit plant diseases and destroy foliage and fruits. But here’s the thing: if you kill them with pesticides, you kill...

 

Coyotes: Your Friendly Neighborhood Predator
Posted: 4/2/2014
The loveliness of Spring and all its fertile charms of gold-like green, flowers, and babies is by far most folks’ favorite time of year. Renewal and life are all around us, reminding us of why we live here after all. But, some of the new babes arriving to the world this month may be creating malaise in the hearts of many. Most coyote pups are born in April, and their advent marks a time of increased activity and visibility for these animals. Turns out that, litters of four to nine hungry young mouths re...

 

Liquid Gold in Your Backyard
Posted: 1/29/2014
  My dad is fond of saying that February feels like the longest month of the year, even though it is the shortest in length. I get that. It’s cold, it’s been cold, and there’s no foreseeable end in sight. The charm of fresh snow has long faded away, and the world outside seems like a vast wasteland of barren trees and howling winds. But, that’s only how it looks on the surface. I promise you, life is stirring out there under last year’s dead growth and dirty slush. To me, February represents the fi...

 

It's Only Natural: A New Year's Wish
Posted: 1/1/2014
Oh, man. It’s that time again. Time for all the commercials about whipping your body into shape. To make promises to quit smoking, spend more time with the kids, or finally clean out the spare closet. Very rarely do we pause in the daily routine of our lives to contemplate who we are and who we want to be. The advent of the New Year seems to be the time in our culture to commit to becoming a better person in one way or another. But you don’t need me to tell you how infrequently these things stick. It tu...

 

The Great Equalizer
Posted: 12/4/2013
I’m sheltering hundreds of foreign refugees in my home right now. They’re wanted across the country for the blaze of damage they leave in their wake. Don’t blame me- I don’t want them around. The fact is they’ve taken my house and my family hostage for the time being- though they promise to be gone when Spring breaks. These insidious houseguests are none other than Halyomorpha halys, better known as brown marmorated stink bugs (BMSB), and you may be hosting them in your own home as I write this. While t...

 

Gobblers, Snoods, and Beards- Oh My!
Posted: 10/30/2013
Chances are the basted beauty of roasted turkey will soon be gracing a table near you. Symbolic of family traditions, cheer, and celebration, this is the bird of American holiday meals. After all, over 45 million turkeys are cooked and eaten in the U.S. on Thanksgiving! Alas, our familiarity with this impressive animal rarely ventures beyond the innocuous meat on dinner plate or deli sandwich. It turns out the behemoth bird that lands in many of our homes this time of year is but an obese shadow of the ...

 

All About Galls
Posted: 10/2/2013
They’re all around you, though you may not have noticed: the papery brown balls kicked up by your feet on a forest trail, the odd-looking goldenrod that never did flower, but instead sports an unruly mop of spiky, pineapple-like leaves at its top, the almost-cute, fuzzy lumps on the surfaces of oak leaves that resemble benign little muppets. Often, the most amazing phenomena of nature surround us without our even being aware they exist. Such is the case with galls. Those oddly shaped lumps, bumps, folds...

 

The Butterfly Effect
Posted: 8/14/2013
Where are all the monarchs ? It’s been the top question asked around the nature center this season. Those miracles in orange and black that startle our logical minds with their proven ability to migrate fully across a continent into the same safe haven in the forests of Mexico year after year are painfully, obviously missing this summer. And it’s not just us here in Ohio who aren’t finding them; across their entire range, the butterflies have been scarce, inciting much alarm among monarch enthusiasts ev...

 

Leave Those Babies Alone!
Posted: 6/26/2013
It happens to every naturalist at one time or another. Too often, really. You’re working at the nature center when you see a distraught-looking visitor walking up to the building carrying a cardboard box, Rubbermaid tote, or cat carrier. Uh-oh - there’s something alive in there. Sometimes, the sequestered animal really is in need of help; it’s been hit by a car, clobbered by a cat, or otherwise has been injured. Sometimes these animals can be helped. Sometimes they can’t. Much more frequently however, w...