Sunday, May 31, 2009


4 year old Tori spotted a plant in the burned area of the prairie. It was taller and thicker than anything next to it and she showed it to me. I told her that it was a milkweed plant. Being 4, she said she thought a "Juice-weed" would be better. So, I demonstrated why we call it a milkweed by breaking the stem so she could seed the milky liquid inside. We even tore a leaf to see that the "milk" went all the way out to the edges.

What fun to share the world with children!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

What is growing now

This morning, I visited the mini-prairie where cattle grazed all last year. There were more thistles growing than I remember, but the flowers and grasses were coming along nicely. There will be LOTS of Star False Solomon's Seal. (I always feel bad for flowers with the common name 'false' something or other. It is not their fault that the person who named them thought they looked similar to something else - but I digress.) There were also Zizia, hoary pucoon, yellow star grass, strawberries and lots of violets blooming.

We visited the big prairie and found more violets than I had ever seen before. They are so short that I can't see them when the grass is tall. We saw a couple of windflowers blooming along sorrel, blue-eyed grass, zizia, hoary puccoon, in bloom. One prairie smoke going to seed and a flowering buffalo berry plant.

Searching for pre-flowering plants, we found silky aster, sunflowers, prairie turnips, goldenrod, coneflowers, bastard toadflax, and bedstraw.

It is still pretty sooty out there. We have not had any rain to wash the ashes away.

The tent caterpillars are all over the bushes and trees. I am afraid for the health of the apple tree. Last year they ate all the leaves and blossoms. After the caterpillars died off, the leaves came back, but it was too late for apples.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

More Cows

The rest of the herd has arrived. Most have already calved, but there are a few cows that will have their calves soon. I have 5 cows and 6 calves this year. I am not entirely certain how many other cows are in the herd. Most of them belong to someone else.

The beautiful hillside that was covered in cheerful yellow dandelions is now looking gray and fuzzy. But at least the girls enjoy blowing the seeds around.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Oh the lovely scent of lilacs drifting in the window. I picked some yesterday from out at the farm - so now the scent really fills the house.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Flowering plants

Today on the burned area I spotted prairie smoke, wind flowers (all over), native thistle, silky aster, and meadow rue. These plants were big enough to identify by the leaves. There were lots of other plants coming - and grasses too, of course.

With the tall stuff burned off, I was able to find a large buffalo berry plant, 10 paces west of the turn off on the south drive. I spotted the burned remnants of past year's berries. The new shoots are just starting to show.

The other thing I noticed today, is that with everything burned off, I can really see the ants moving around. Almost everywhere you stand, there are ants scurrying back and forth on the ground. Many of these ants move and store (thereby planting) seeds.

Pretty cool!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Hoary puccoon

Saw the first Hoary Puccoon blooming on the non-burned areas. Mouse eared chickweed too.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Cows are home

Last night, Pat delivered 4 cows and 5 calves to the farm. All mine. One set of twins. The heifer has not calved yet, so she is still in Benson with the rest of the herd. More cows are coming, but he brought mine first. It is so nice to see cows back at the farm.

Greening already

Blades of grass are unfolding all over the burnt area. They emerge from the ground folded over, then pop up once the loose end is free from the ground.
I don't know if it is all brome grass or native. It is NOT little or big bluestem since it is definitely not a bunch grass.

With the cattails burned short, we were able to see a goose on a nest in the loon pond. I hope it makes it through the season.

Dad and I saw 2 buzzards sitting by the broken attic window of the farmhouse. I had never seen them sitting on a house before. We worried that something had died in the attic, but there was (thankfully) nothing there.

I saw a female cardinal in our lilac bush today. The male was there too, but I had seen him before. It is harder to spot the females. I try to keep our bird feeders filled, but the squirrels eat the seeds as fast as I fill the feeders. I'll have to borrow Poppy's live trap, once he has captured all the red squirrels living in the wall of his porch. He caught two already this week.

Monday, May 4, 2009


In an effort to be good stewards of the land, we burned over 60 acres today. The burn covered the native prairie and portions of the "CP25" CRP planting that we did several years ago. Over half of the CRP area was burned last year.

The burn started at about 11:00 a.m. and was not out until about 5:00. There were still a few spots smoldering, but it was done going anywhere.
The Heartland Conservation Services team, led by Terry Tank, did an excellent job. Dad was hoping to get a larger area burned, but Terry determined that it was not safe. He did not want the fire to escape into the swamp. As it was, the fire almost got away into a little wooded patch. We would not have minded that burning, but it bordered on out neighbor's property, and we wanted to keep the fire out of there. The team contained the flames quickly.
It was a very slow fire and hopefully burned off all the nasty brome grass.
The pasque flowers got singed, but were still standing, and I saw green prairie smoke plants in the burned areas.
I saw a couple of deer flee the area before the burn started, and saw a raccoon running around in the area that was done burning. I think he had hidden in the cornfield. Only part of that burned. When we left, there were geese on one of the sloughs we burned around. They'll all be OK.
The plants will green up soon and the grass will be super tall this year.
At least - that is what happened last year. :-)

Sunday, May 3, 2009


We are scheduled to burn the prairie tomorrow. The "new" prairie got burned last year. I am so excited to see the native prairie respond to fire.

I took some before pictures yesterday. There are prairie smoke plants budding, and shoots of bedstraw, asters, heuchera and others growing. The pasque flowers are blooming.