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

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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Oct 17

October Butterflies & a Moth

Posted: under photography, Wildlife.
Tags: , , ,  October 17th, 2013

October-west-grass042

A cool sunny day after some rain: grass is green,  fall flowers are in bloom–including some non-fall flowers, like a pear tree.  Monarchs are migrating through, and this afternoon were busy among the Maximilian sunflowers.  Most of those are short this year (dry previous winter and spring) but loaded with flowers.   In this patch alone  (a few yards across) I saw five or six monarchs at a time.

monarch-Max-sunflower015

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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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Oct 15

Monarchs, At Last

Posted: under Climate Change, photography, Wildlife.
Tags: , , ,  October 15th, 2011

Monarchs nectaring on Gayfeather (Liatris sp.)

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Aug 23

Deep Drought

Posted: under Climate Change, Mortality, photography, Plantlife, Water, Wildlife.
Tags: , , ,  August 23rd, 2011

Roughleaf dogwood & oak thicket in August 2011

East margin of creek woods–August 2011-leaves turning & dropping

Cactus Flat: even the prickly pear is drying out

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Jul 08

Always Something New

Posted: under photography, Wildlife.
Tags: , , , , ,  July 8th, 2011

An unfamiliar plant shows up every now and then (more often after rains, and really often after flood events that move seeds from upstream above our property down into the damp areas.)    Over the weekend, my husband reported a plant new to him over on Westbrook near the south fenceline: a Composite, very small flowers and bicolored, like a miniature gaillardia, he said.  Plant up to three feet tall, straggly, with narrow (lanceolate to linear) leaves.  A couple of days later he brought back a drying specimen of the flowers; I tried to revive it in water so I could look it up, but no luck.

I finally made it over there early this morning, and as usual saw more than I came for.    First, while walking through the south end of the creek woods, I heard a bird I didn’t recognize (along with white-eyed vireos, cardinals, Carolina wrens, mockingbirds…)  and then I saw a flash of yellow and black…not a bird, but a large butterfly.   We’ve had more and more tiger swallowtails in the past few years, both in the house yards and down in the creek woods, but I’ve had little luck photographing them.  They’re strong flyers, skittish, and prefer to perch (when they perch) with plenty of greenery between me and them.   Today I got lucky.

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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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Oct 03

Monarchs in Fall

Posted: under photography, Wildlife.
Tags: , , ,  October 3rd, 2010

Some years we get spectacular drifts of Monarchs migrating south, and some years they come in little groups of three or four…not many at a time.   Today I went out on a day of blue sky, bright sun, brisk north wind, just to see what was out there.

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