Journal for November 12, 2007

We’ve finished planting this year’s prairie! We rented a seed drill from the DNR and, after the usual fiddling and readjusting, it took us about a day and a half to plant most of the seeds. That’s a lot faster than when I do it by hand!

Before the seeds can go into the drill, they need to be mixed. Here’s my mixing project – I do it in an old child’s wading pool. The pool was too small to do all the seeds at once, so this is half the seeds for the 20 acre prairie.

Then I scoop the mixed seeds into plastic garbage bags to get them up the hill to the drill.

Here’s Mike driving the tractor, pulling the drill.

It’s a Truax seed drill – designed for planting prairie seeds. We used one once before – in November of 2002 to plant the Cat’s Paw Prairie – but we didn’t remember all the tricks to get it going. We spend a morning figuring all that out, and then Mike planted a few hours that day, and all day the next day. It’s so nice to have it done!

Western Field with the tractor and drill on the horizon

The information the DNR left with us didn’t help much to get it started, so Mike wrote up a set of instructions. It will be helpful for us if we use it again, and it might help other people who are left with minimal directions.

There are still lots of seeds left to plant by hand. Some seeds are fuzzy and stick together like Thimbleweed and Prairie Smoke, or spiky and sharp like Needlegrass – none of these can go through the drill. We tried putting the small, smooth seeds through the smaller seed box on the drill, but they went through too fast – so I’ll plant those by hand too. And I couldn’t clean some seeds well enough to put them through the drill.

I like walking around planting on the prairie – especially since it’s already been planted once, so I don’t have to be very careful about where I’m throwing the seeds. I can wander around and admire the views and look at the birds.

It really looks like November now – everything is brown and gray – but it still isn’t very cold. Today I found a Mourning Cloak butterfly sitting on a rock in Western Valley. It was there when I drove up the hill to hand plant some seeds, and it was still in the same spot when I came back a few hours later. It was only 50 degrees and cloudy, so I guess it wasn’t feeling much like flying.

Mourning Cloak