Journal for August 26, 2008

Cliff and Al came and took the Volvo away today. Mike says we should start calling Volvo Meadow “ The Meadow Formerly Known as Volvo”.

I actually like the fact that it has the name but no Volvo. It’s in the tradition of all those developments like Eagle Bluff, and Prairie Ridge – named after things that used to be there.

Here’s the Volvo before it left – completely grown into its spot under the trees. It even had a tree growing inside it.

This is the process of getting it out.

I started a new blog and a new list serve this week – is the blog, and the listserve is a Yahoo group. They’re for people who – like me – are interested in learning about insects by observing, photographing and raising them. I hope we can learn from each other by discussing things and telling our stories on the listserve, and showing our photos on the blog. If you’re interested in joining us, let me know – anyone can read the blog, but to join the listserve or post to the blog, you need to be registered. I’m going to start posting most of my insect-related stories on

I’ve finally finished pulling and cutting Wild Parsnip for the year. I didn’t get nearly all of it, but now the seeds are so ripe that they fall when I cut it. The rest will just have to wait until next year.

Now I’m doing some work on the savanna area that we’ve cleared behind Indian Grass Prairie. It has thistles, Queen Anne’s Lace, and burdock growing up, so I cut or pulled most of that, and started clearing the Prickly Ash.

This is before I started.

A little later in the process – most of the Queen Anne’s Lace and Burdock is gone.

Here’s a garter snake that I encountered on Indian Grass Point. Part of its tail had been cut off – either by a predator, or by being run over by a car. It seemed very healthy in spite of having a tail with a flat end.

I’m still seeing Common Roadside Skippers on and around the birch logs on Indian Grass Point.

I’ve been seeing Black Tiger Swallowtails recently. Some female Tiger Swallowtails are black instead of yellow. They look a little like Black Swallowtails, except that they’re larger, have more blue on the back of their wings, and they have faint dark “tiger” stripes. Here’s one that was nectaring on some non-native thistles on Indian Grass Point.

Here are a few more of the insects that have been around lately.

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth (Hemaris thysbe)

Least Skipper

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Black Swallowtail caterpillar on Queen Anne’s Lace

A plant hopper the genus Otiocerus, probably (Otiocerus wolfei). (Margot helped with the ID)

White Striped Black moth (Trichodezia albovittata)

A Grass Spider’s web – also called a Tunnel-web Spider. I think this spider is in the family Agelenidae – it was so well hidden at the end of its tunnel that I could barely see it – but it had a lovely web.

The Wild Turkeys are walking around in large family groups. I startled one group on buffalo Ridge Prairie. They flew for the bushes.

Another group near the house.

We finally had a day of soft, misty rain. It was warm and fun to walk in. Here’s Volvo Meadow in the rain – without the Volvo.

The wetland that I planted last winter is looking pretty good. Blue Vervain is blooming, and some parts of it don’t have much Wild Parsnip at all. Other places have many first year Parsnip plants – we’ll mow those areas next year and see if we can discourage the Parsnip.

Mixed in with the Vervain is a native plant (Erechtites hieracifolia) that grows after a disturbance like mowing or fire. Its common names are Fireweed and American Burn Weed. The flowers aren’t showy, but the tufts of silk attached to the seeds are bright white – so in a few weeks they’ll look much prettier.

Mike mowed our newest prairie – the one we planted last fall.

This is the last big planted prairie. I love the way the first year fields look when they’re mowed – I’ll miss seeing them like this. (But I’ll enjoy seeing the prairie there next year, too.)

Here are a few of the end of the summer flowers that are blooming now.

Rough Blazing Star (Liatris aspera)

Common False Foxglove (Agalinis tenuifolia)

Giant Hyssop (Agastache scrophulariaefolia) in 3 Finger Valley

Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum) in 3 finger valley

Purple Milkwort (Polygala sanguinea)

Woodland Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum) in the savanna area on Indian Grass Prairie.

Common Carrion Flower (Smilax herbacea) – a new county record. It’s an odd, herbaceous vine that has big balls of dark blue berries in the fall.

Tall Thistle (Cirsium altissimum). This is a wonderful native thistle that grows in shady places. I keep trying to take photos of it to show how beautiful it is, and how tall! I think this one is about 6 feet tall.

Round-leaved Dogwood (Cornus rugosa) is a new plant for the farm. It’s fruiting now, with big bunches of white berries.

The front of Indian Grass Point is looking much better now that I’ve cleared a much of the brush out of the prairie. This year, for the first time, I found White Goldenrod blooming there. Here it is blooming with Gray Goldenrod.

Western Road in the rain – the farm road that goes through our Western Valley.

I finally got a picture of the trout that live in our creek. It was almost impossible to see the trout in the original photo – but when I worked on it with the photo editor, I was able to make the fish appear. (The light line in the water is the stem of a plant – probably Wild Parsnip – that fell into the stream.)