Jun 19

June 16, 2015 Is the Rain Over?

Posted: under Activities, Land, photography, Plantlife, Wildlife.
Tags: , , , , ,  June 19th, 2016

The rain stopped a week ago; the winter grasses are brown or browning, the early wildflowers have gone to seed.  But soil moisture is still good. The tallgrasses (switchgrass, Eastern gama, Indiangrass, big bluestem) are doing very well (switchgrass in the secondary drainage is taller than we are.)   There’s an area in the east grass we call “The Bowl” because it’s a roundish area that seeps in wet weather as it slopes down to the old drainage line.  It stays green longer.  When we got the place, it was covered with broomweed (non-native), bare under the broomweed with a few scattered grass plants, not doing well because of the chemical defense of the broomweek.  Today it looks like this:

The-Bowl-06-16-2016
You can see the upslope edge (pale beige of dry grass)
Every different shade of green, every native plant, reveals something about the soil where it is.


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Jun 19

May 5, 2016, Between Rain Events

Posted: under Activities, photography, Plantlife, Water, Weather.
 June 19th, 2016

Most but not all the surface water has dried up, soils that were seeping and running with water last week are dry enough to walk on in regular shoes.

Gaillardia-Qanne"s-lace-05-05-2016
Main grass: Queen Anne’s Lace, gaillardia, scattered bluebonnets
stiff-stem prairie flax, coreopsis, goldthread, Venus’s looking glass,
skullcap, green antelope horns, others


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Jun 19

Earth Day 2016

Posted: under Activities, Land, photography, Water, Weather, Wildlife.
 June 19th, 2016

Lg-main-grass-4-22-2016

Earth Day 2016

It had rained in the day before, and dawned cool, with a northeast breeze–a perfect day to go checking the water quality on the east half of the place.  Not as much rain as the previous weekend, so with some difficulty I was able to make it from place to place in ordinary walking shoes.  In the distance, the line of woods along the seasonal creek; to the left the “dry woods” growing on a hump of rock.  Out of sight to the left, the line of trees along an old ditch dug by a former farmer, intended to carry runoff from the highway to the south property line .   A beautiful day, with signs of recovery from the drought…and signs of much management still needed.

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Jul 21

Queen of the Prairie: Big Bluestem

Posted: under Activities, photography, Plantlife.
Tags: , ,  July 21st, 2015

big-bluestem-CloudPav-7-21-15 Why it’s called BIG bluestem: the pole is six feet tall

Four grasses form the foundation of the tallgrass prairie biome in the US: Big Bluestem, Switchgrass, Indiangrass, and Eastern Gama.  Before this land was broken to the plow, fingers of tallgrass prairie existed here in the wetter lower spots, with midgrass (Little Bluestem, Sideoats Grama, Vine Mesquite, etc)  prairie on dryer slopes and shortgrass on the rockiest areas.  This is not quite the southernmost bit of tallgrass country, but it’s getting there.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Apr 13

April on the Land

Posted: under Activities, photography, Plantlife, Water, Weather, Wildlife.
Tags: , , , ,  April 13th, 2013

It was a dry fall, after a dry summer, and a dry winter followed the dry fall.  Other places got rain–sometimes nearby–but we had none for months.  March brought a little–April has brought a little–and now we have some flowers.

hist-adj_bluebonnets

The bluebonnets may be only 4-5 inches tall, instead of knee-high, but they’re there–in a few places–and should be able to make seed for another year.    We had more through most of the dry winter, but many finally just died–or were eaten, since they were the only green thing out there.

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Dec 01

Fencing

Posted: under Activities, photography, Plantlife, Wildlife.
Tags: , , , ,  December 1st, 2011

In our house, fencing has two meanings: the stuff I do with swords (Renaissance style) and the stuff we both do with posts and wire and clamshell posthole diggers and shovels and so on.   Often my husband works on fence alone.   I have books to write.  When he’s sick or injured, the fence projects languish…and sometimes it’s just too hot to get out there.

Winter is a fine time to work on fence, and he’s been busy on the west end fence since some windstorms dropped trees on it.

Yes, there’s a fence under that limb nearest the camera.

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Jun 23

Cloud Pavilion: New Rain Barn

Posted: under Activities, Water, Wildlife.
Tags: ,  June 23rd, 2011

On land with no permanent water source, rain harvesting is the only way to provide reliable supplemental water for wildlife.    (Well, you can lug it in on your back or a cart or trailer, but that’s no fun at all when temperatures top 100F day after day.)   And rainwater is a healthier source of water for some (most?) wildlife than treated city water, even if that were affordable and available.  Supplying supplemental water is a key activity in the support of wildlife, critical in times of drought.   So, over the years, we’ve built “rain barns” to capture and store rainwater for this purpose.   We also do rainwater collection off existing roofs (house, carport, horse barn) to provide water for the horses, water garden, and a few trees.

Fox Pavilion: 610 gallons storage max

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May 24

Amphibians

Posted: under Activities, Climate Change, Water, Wildlife.
Tags: , , , , , , ,  May 24th, 2010

Young Rana berlandieri with last of its tail showing.

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May 10

It’s All Wildlife…

Posted: under Activities, photography, Plantlife, Wildlife.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,  May 10th, 2010

Because of time constraints (working on copy edits for new book) and weather, the brief walk on the land Saturday didn’t produce any usable bird pictures and I didn’t see any snakes or lizards, but I did see wildlife, large and small:

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May 02

Copying Nature: Water Feature

Posted: under Activities, photography, Plantlife, Wildlife.
Tags: , , , ,  May 2nd, 2010

We’re already drying up, though much is still green and flowers are still blooming…the long-range forecast is for a “mild drought.”   Last summer, in the worst of the drought, we reworked the backyard water feature (which had become overgrown with water irises, among other things.)   We started it before we had the 80 acres, designing it for wildlife use from the beginning, with sunny, shady, quiet, and fast-moving sections of varying depths and shapes.   In the extreme drought that ended last fall, it was crucial to our wildlife, because neither of the small guzzlers out on the 80 acres was big enough to sustain a good population of amphibians or odonates.

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