Fall 2014 in Northwest Alabama

Reader Contribution by Mary Carton
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Farmers are finishing up combining corn around our area and planting wheat no till over the stubble. Soybeans that were planted after some of the wheat was combined – before the rain deluge – are also being harvested. Those planted after the rest of the wheat was combined are still nice and green. Some of the fields had wheat and soybeans growing due to late harvesting, but the hot weather stifled the volunteer wheat. Hay is also being baled.

The Oka Kapassa Festival took place on September 13. It commemorates the kindness of the citizens of Tuscumbia during the time the Native Americans were forced to relocate to Oklahoma in the 1830s. Congress passed the Indian Removal Act in 1830, which forced approximately 100,000 Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks and Seminoles to move from their homeland in the South to Oklahoma from 1830 to 1850. Approximately 3,500 Creeks died in Alabama during the removal.

They had encountered hardships, beatings, starvation and theft of their property along the Trail of Tears removal corridor except in the city of Tuscumbia. Here they were given food, clothes, shelter and a doctor before leaving the area through Tuscumbia Landing. The Landing is long gone, blasted by the Union forces during the War Between the States. During its heyday, travel on the river had to stop at Tuscumbia Landing or Decatur because the shoals between the two cities prevented river travel. A train was taken from each city around the shoals and back on the river at the next city.

A return walk symbolizing a return to the homeland, the Walk of Life from Tuscumbia Landing back to Tuscumbia took place in the morning. Before the walk, the story of those removed via the Landing was told. Feathers were tied around the Landing honoring the ancestors removed, indicating that it is a sacred site. It also symbolized that the American Holocaust of removal should never happen again.

This year was the first time all of the tribes removed from the southeast had representatives at the walk. My most emotional moment was watching those who came from out of state to make the walk for the first time. Watching them realize that this was the site their ancestors left on their forced removal to Oklahoma.

The hummingbirds are in the last stages of their migration back to Central America. Since July, my yard has been like an air raid zone with hummingbirds buzzing around the seven feeders and by the ones guarding feeders chasing the others around. One afternoon, while up on a ladder washing the top of my truck, I almost had my ears buzzed off by one of the chases.

I came home one afternoon a couple of weeks back, and it was so quiet. My guests had left on their migration. A couple of days later, I had another large group hitting the feeders heavily. After two inches of rain from Thursday night until Friday morning, they were hitting the feeders Saturday morning and had moved on with the cooler temperatures. Today another smaller group has stopped to rest a spell.

When feeding the hummers, don’t use the store-bought red stuff, it may cause tumors of the tongue in the little birds. You can easily make up a batch and store the leftovers in the refrigerator. Use one part sugar and four parts hot to boiling water, cool and fill feeders. Be sure to clean the feeders every three to four days depending on the heat.

If you are having problems with ants, you can make an ant guard with a cap from a spray can. Make sure you wear gloves. Cut a length of wire; file the ends to get rid of the sharp edge. Put a loop at one end. Drill a hole a tad smaller than the wire in the middle of the cap to keep it from being so floppy. Feed the wire through the hole and make a loop at the other end. Caulk around the hole on top and inside, dry well and hang open end upwards on your hook. Fill the cap with water and hang the feeder from the loop below.

If you have praying mantis hanging on your feeder, move them to another spot away from the feeders. They are good critters with a voracious insect appetite, but apparently can’t tell the difference between hummers and a bumble bee.

I’ve been busy trying to find my flower beds. They got out of hand when I had Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever earlier in the spring. Since the ground is so dry, I can’t pull or cut the weeds and grass out, so I’ve been busy cutting down hackberry, privet, redbud volunteers and several varieties of tall weeds that get up to 10 to 15 feet tall. If we get a rain, I can start pulling and mulching the lower stuff. My Cherokee purple heirloom tomatoes finally started ripening up this month.

The Hooligans have been busy dragging up pears from the Lower 40 and leaving them on the driveway and around the yard. They only want to eat the good ones, and these are one with rotten spots on them. I don’t know why they are going through the trouble of dragging them up, just to dump them. I’ve had to scrape a couple off the driveway after I ran over them with my truck.

Levi likes to sleep in one of the chairs on the front porch. With the daylight hours getting shorter, it’s dark when I go to work. I opened my blinds on the living room one morning only to see a dark shadow outside. After I did my cardio dance, I realized it was Levi sitting up in the chair watching the world go by.

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