Journal for September 14, 2008

We’ve had some good rain at the farm in the last week or so.

This was one storm that dumped .8 inches in about an hour.

I’ve been working on opening up some of our prairie and savanna areas. Fall is a good time especially for cutting Sumac. I cut the stem, and touch the cut end with 20% glyphosate (Roundup), or Tordon. That method seems to keep the sumac from growing back the next year.

I cleared part of the western slope of Hidden Oaks Point. This is a view looking along the slope before I started.

Here it is after one session of cutting.

And here it is after two days of work. There were prairie grasses and flowers growing under the sumac, so I feel like I created instant prairie.

I walked around in a part of the wetland that I don’t visit very often – under some Speckled Alders that grow along the road.

Speckled Alder (Alnus incana)

I found some new plants there:

Great Water Dock (Rumex orbiculatus) a county record

Climbing False Buckwheat (Polygonum scandens) – also a county record

These are ones I’ve seen before.

Fragrant Bedstraw (Galium triflorum)

Eastern Willow-herb (Epilobium coloratum)

Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)

The flowers in the part of the wetland that I’ve restored are very colorful right now.

I took another photo of fish in the creek, and it turned out well enough that you can see the colors in their skin. They are Brook Trout – the only native trout we have in this area.

This is another new plant for the farm – growing in some of the sandy spots on Hidden Oaks Point.

Hairy Bead Grass (Paspallum setaceum)

Here are some more familiar fall flowers.

Sky Blue Aster (Aster oolentangiensis)

New England Aster (Aster novae-angliae)

Yellow Flax (Linum sulcatum)

Western Sunflower (Helianthus occidentalis)

Wild Clematis (Clematis virginia)

Elm-leaved Goldenrod (Solidago ulmifolia) – a delicate goldenrod that grows in woods

Hedge Bindweed (Calystegia sepium)

Canadian clearweed (Pilea pumila)

Gray Dogwood (Cornus racemosa)

Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens)

Autumn Coralroot (Corallorhiza odontorhiza)

Fringed Gentian (Gentiana crinita)

We have a good crop of Wild Plums this year. We’ve been seeing lots of animal scat containing plum pits and corn and apple cores – the animals seem to be enjoying the harvest.

Wild Plum (Prunus americana)

Wild Onion (Allium stellatum) – a beautiful plant that I planted in our prairies, but have never found growing around here. The U of Stevens Point Herbarium has records of it in northwestern Wisconsin, and central Wisconsin, but not in Buffalo County.

Bottlebrush Grass (Hystrix patula) – a grass that I’ve found growing nearby, and I’ve planted in some of our savanna areas, but I’ve never found growing naturally on our land. This week I found a patch of it growing in the woods above First Burn Prairie. I’m sure it’s a natural occurance – it looks well established and it’s not close to any places where I planted it.

Bottlebrush Grass

Here are some views of the prairies.

Flowers in Western Prairie

Monarch and Fritillary on Field Thistle (Cirsium discolor) in Western Prairie

Blazing Star (Liatris aspera) in Pat’s Prairie

Indian Grass Point – the savanna area that we’ve been clearing

The path leading back from Indian Grass Point. I girdled all the aspens a few years ago, and the path is getting lighter and more open. Once the trees have fallen down, we’ll clear out the stumps and the brush. There are prairie plants growing underneath.

Center Valley from Indian Grass Point

First Burn Prairie – still quite overgrown

I worked a little on First Burn Prairie – cutting Sumac and Buckthorn. Here’s the center of it, after I cut some of the Sumac.

Here’s some beautiful Showy Goldenrod – full of native bees.

Many people blame Goldenrod for causing hayfever. Actually, the most common cause of fall seasonal allergies is Ragweed, not Goldenrod.

Here’s the flower of Giant Ragweed – the actual cause of the problem.

Goldenrod pollen is heavy and sticky – it’s meant to be carried by insects. Ragweed is wind pollinated, so the pollen is light and blows around in the air and into people’s noses.

Because they bloom at the same time of year, and Goldenrod’s flowers are more noticeable, people thought for a long time that Goldenrod was the culprit.

Bill Burke and some of his family came to visit this week. His family farmed just down the road from us from the mid-1800s until the 1920s. I gave them a tour of our prairies and then they got to visit their family’s old farm.

David, Jean, Bill and Julie on the Knife Edge Prairie

The fall butterflies are hatching now. This is a Gray Comma.

Commas and other anglewings hatch in the fall, and then spend the winter as adults, sheltering in wood piles and in cracks in wood and bark. If the temperature gets up to 55 or 60 in the winter, and the sun is out, they’ll come out and fly around – even if there’s snow on the ground.

I’ve done a bugfolks post with all my other insect sightings for this week. Go to to check it out.