Archive for August 13th, 2009


The Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele) is a common and widespread butterfly. Great Spangled Fritillaries have just one brood each season, but are in flight through the summer. The males emerge first, with females following. The eggs the female lays hatch into tiny caterpillars that hibernate through the winter. When they emerge in the spring, they feed on native violets, their larval foodplant. Great Spangled Fritillaries are named for the metallic silvery-white spots that spangle the underside of the hind wing. This individual appears to have had a narrow escape from a predator.


It is nectaring at a monarda flower. Purple monarda (Monarda fistulosa) is an easy-to-grow native plant that is popular with pollinators. There is also a red variety (Monarda didyma). Both make attractive garden plants that hummingbirds, bees and butterflies all appreciate. In fact, one of the common names for monarda is bee balm. Monarda is also referred to as bergamot because it has a scent that is similar to that of the bergamot orange, which is used in Earl Grey tea. Monarda is a member of the mint family and was used by natives to brew a hot drink, which is the source of yet another name, Oswega tea plant.


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Sharing the ring with the Miniature horses at the Merrickville fair was a draft horse show. This made for a curious juxtaposition of tiny horses and giants, but the show secretary noted that alternating the classes from one group to the other allowed everyone more time for the time-consuming process of harnessing. The morning halter classes featured Belgians, and Percherons such as the grey above.

Percherons have their roots in France, where the breed originated in La Perche, a district of Normandy. Through the Middle Ages and 18th and 19th centuries, Andulusian, Arabian and English Thoroughbred blood was introduced to the Percheron breed. In 1823, a horse named Jean Le Blanc was foaled in Le Perche and all of today’s Percheron bloodlines trace back to this horse. Percherons were first imported into the United States in 1939. As modern equipment displaced draft horses on farms, the numbers of draft horses plummeted. Interest in draft horses was renewed through the 1960s and numbers have rebounded, with draft horses popular for recreational purposes such as sleigh and hay rides and work around small farms, as well as showing.


While bays and sorrels can be registered, most Percherons are black or grey. In contrast, Belgians are usually a light chestnut or sorrel colour, with flaxen mane and tail. As the name suggests, the Belgian originated in the country of Belgium. Through the 1800s, the breed was promoted by the Belgian government, and breeding stock was exported to other countries. In 1903, interest in Belgians was generated in the United States when the government of Belgium sent exhibits of horses to the St. Louis World’s Fair and the International Livestock Exposition in Chicago. As with other draft horses, a decline in numbers through the 50s was followed by a draft horse renaissance thereafter.


One of the most impressive events to witness is the 6-horse hitch class. At Merrickville, there were two teams, one of Belgians and one of Percherons. The Belgians were the entry of the Kelly Farm.

belgian hitch


The Percherons were the entry of the Greir Family.



When the teams trot by, you can feel the ground shake. Awesome!


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