Journal for October 4, 2012

The biggest change in the last few weeks has been the addition of two kittens to our household.  They are incredibly cute and engaging – and they make it easy to get distracted from other activities – like blogging and restoration work.  (Their names are Tiger and Tansy.) 

It’s been warm and dry here – good for farmers who are in the midst of harvesting, and good for restoration work.  But the summer’s dry weather has been a little hard on the fall color.  We’ve had a bit more rain here than places to the south and west.  So the trees around here are beautiful, but as we drive toward the twin cities, the land gets drier, and the trees get browner and less colorful.

The hill across from the house in Western Valley

And the view from my computer.


Looking up into a Red Maple

It’s a windy (dry) day today, so some of this color may be gone by tomorrow.

The remnant prairies are looking good this year.  I’ve done some brush cutting on several of them, so they’re more open, and there are big patches of dry prairie forbs.

Sumac Prairie – an area where I cleared Sumac, Honeysuckle and Gray Dogwood last year


Silky Aster on Hidden Oaks Point

Big View Prairie


Spiny Puffball on Indian Grass Point


Dainty Sulphur Butterfly on Hidden Oaks Point


Mike mowed parts of Hidden Oaks Point last week.  We’ve been clearing and mowing there since 2004;  the prairie plants are coming back, and the area is looking more open. There’s still a lot of work to do to bring back the savanna – there always is!

Hidden Oaks Point looking down toward 3 Finger Valley


About half way down Hidden Oaks Point – looking west


The grasses in the planted prairies have turned brown, and now only the asters and a few goldenrods are still blooming.

Western Prairie


Smooth Aster in Western Prairie


New England Aster in Western Prairie


The air has been very dusty lately.  We’re thinking that it’s because of all the harvesting that’s going on in this very dry weather.  This is Praag Valley – the view from Big View Prairie – with dust in the air.


We had our first frost last week – September 24th.  The low temperature that morning was 24 degrees in the valley.


A frosty aster


Our friends Carlos and Susana came to visit last weekend.  Carlos rode his bike down from Saint Paul – 112 very hilly miles.

Here’s Mike, waiting for him to arrive.


Carlos, coming around the bend of the road



He was pretty tired


But cheerful


The next day – Carlos, Mike and Susana on the Big View bench


We have dozens of apple trees growing at the farm – and each tree is different.  It’s fun to taste an apple from each of the trees we walk by.  Some are delicious, but most are either too sour or too mushy to be good to eat.  I think they were used for making hard cider, not as eating apples.  This tree produces lots of fruit – it’s branches are loaded – but they’re very small – about the size of ping pong balls.    And they’re very sour.


The Box Elder Bugs have invaded our house.  There are thousands crawling on the sunny south-facing outside walls, and they somehow make their way inside too. The cats chase them, and sometimes even eat a few.  Ugh!

Here’s a gathering of them under the eaves of the garage.


A few late butterflies.

Painted Lady


A very late Monarch – September 29th


Coyote – seen on one of our wildlife cameras