Sunday, July 14, 2024
Chris Judd

How can they know?

Every now and again, season, year, or just occasionally, I am reminded that wild animals know things that we may never know. I am talking about wild animals as big as a black bear and as small as a hummingbird. Hummingbirds have brains as small as a BB, yet they spend the winter in some nice warm country that I have never visited and return to the same hummingbird feeder in the same yard in Canada year after year.
Last Wednesday, in the afternoon before it started to snow for three days, we passed thousands of acres of farmland where corn, soybeans, wheat, hay and other crops had grown last year. But in one field we counted, at 90 km/hour, about a hundred deer eating something. Why just that field? It looked like soybeans had grown there (combines had shaved the field down to an inch from the soil).
Then I remembered that that farm had grown special non-GMO soybeans for export to Japan in previous years. Some soybeans always blow out the back of the combine even if is set up perfectly to save all the beans. Soybeans are very high in protein, energy, and fat. They are an excellent supplement for the diet of deer and turkeys to survive the cold winter. I then remembered that more than 40 years ago I had combined the first GMO corn varieties in a test plot where 20 different varieties of corn, some GMO varieties and other non-GMO varieties.
Only the very best corn varieties are used in local test plots where yield, moisture at harvest, per cent of broken stalks, and bushel weight are recorded on each variety. Because there had been a problem with black bear damage in many corn fields in our county, I also rated each variety for bear damage. None of the 20 corn varieties were marked with variety or the company that sold it. The owner of the field where the test plot was, knew where each variety was and had it recorded in a safe place where nobody else knew. This was just in case some unscrupulous seed salesman might sneak into the field at night and sprinkle a little extra fertilizer on the corn variety that he sold. During 20 years of doing corn test plots, I have never seen any of that kind of seed salesmen.
When combining the plots, I didn’t know which variety was which until all plots were off and the owner finally disclosed the variety of each test row. Since I was the combine driver in charge of estimating bear damage, I watched closely the damage to each variety. Although most varieties had some or a lot of bear and other wild animal damage, such as squirrel, racoon, deer, porcupine and birds, there were five varieties with zero wild animal damage, except a couple times when a bear had sat back on a few stalks to eat another variety of corn. When all results were in and calculated, I was told that every variety that had zero wild animal damage was a GMO variety. Why were there no kernels eaten by birds, no deer damage, no coon damage, or no trails where squirrels had dragged a cob to the woods? What do the wild animals know about those varieties that we humans don’t?
A few weeks ago, as we drove past a freshly-combined corn field, I noticed a very small pile of corn grain that had fallen on the ground while loading a truck. I stopped and filled a small paper bag with some of those corn kernels to put in a bird feeder in the yard. Though several small birds and even three squirrels visited the bird feeder, they did not eat any of the corn, nor did they return again. I later thought, I know the owner and that corn field was planted with the very best and most expensive GMO seed corn that money could buy. Little birds and other wild animals can neither read nor write, but how can they tell GMO seed from non-GMO seed? Like many others, I cannot tell the difference in GMO or non-GMO grain. However, if I eat anything that contains GMO grain or is manufactured from GMO grain, such as vegetable oil, margarine, some sugars, beers, liquors, or prepared foods that use GMO crops, my stomach gets sick and I get very embarrassed.
I am amazed that a butterfly that winters down in Mexico goes through many generations before its future generations can return to that same field in Canada where its ancestors fed on those milk weed plants.
I know several people who can douse for water, buried electric lines, and magnetic or energy lines in the earth which are about every 16 feet apart both north-south and east-west. A few people that I know can also douse for buried human remains even after they have been buried for a hundred years. Only last year, a study in Europe using an electronic signal attached to migrating birds proved that they follow those precise magnetic lines in the earth to guide them from South Africa where they winter to the same place, or branch in a tree, that they spend summer each year in Europe.
The next time someone says to you, “he’s bird-brained,” what does that person really mean?

Chris Judd is a farmer in Clarendon on land that has been in his family for generations.

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