Journal for October 16, 2011

The weather has finally gotten colder this week, and there have been several big windstorms, so most of the leaves have fallen off the trees.  It’s still beautiful, but it feels like fall is almost over.

There have been flocks of migrating birds passing through.  I’ve been watching them flit through the bushes outside my window  – a favorite spot for eating berries and chasing bugs.  Last week the big flocks were Eastern Phoebes, Eastern Towhees, and White-throated Sparrows.  This week they’re American Robins, and Fox Sparrows.

We had two big restoration events this week.

A guy from the local farm coop came to spray the Brome grass in one of our old hay fields.  We had tried seeding right into the Brome, but the grass is so thick that none of the prairie plants came up.  I’m hoping the spraying is happening late enough in the year that it won’t hurt any small prairie plants, and will just kill the non-native grasses. I’ll add more seed this winter, and hope it has a better chance.

One of our concerns was that the field is very steep, so the coop sent a giant machine that’s supposed to be stable on hills.  The wheels were higher than my head.



He made it without tipping over, but there was one close call.

The other restoration event was a group of Prairie Enthusiasts who came to help us work on Sumac Prairie.  It was great – a beautiful day, and we all worked very hard.  We cut brush in the remnant savanna at the top of the bluff, above the prairie.  Mike cut with the chainsaw and weed wacker, and the rest of us cut with hand tools, piled brush, and sprayed stumps.  By the end of the day we had made an opening through to the next remnant – Sumac Corner Prairie.

Here are two before photos….

Looking toward Sumac Corner Prairie through the brush – Mike, Joanne and I worked on this


And a grove of small Burr Oaks.  Kathy and Lee worked on clearing out brush between the trees.


Here’s the crew -Me, Mike, Kathy, Joanne, and Lee

Here are a few of the brush piles after we’d finished cutting


Mike and I came back a few days later and moved the brush piles back in the woods.

Here’s the new view into Sumac Corner Prairie


And the oak grove


The last project that happened this week was the repair of our driveway where it was damaged by the flood last summer.  The driveway has been a little too narrow – the guy on the sprayer almost fell in the creek.  This week we finally got it fixed.  It’s nice and wide now, and extremely sturdy.  I’ll plant some wetland vegetation around the rocks, and by next year it should blend in to the landscape.


There are still some butterflies around on sunny days.   Clouded Sulphurs are the most common – they’re still mating, even this close to the end of the season.

This is a Milbert’s Tortoiseshell – one of my favorite butterflies.  It’s an anglewing – one of a group of butterflies that spend the winter as adults.


We were still seeing Monarchs until a few days ago.