Journal for July 19, 2014

It’s been a busy few weeks – lots of visitors and we’re still working on our mid-summer projects.

My two big summer projects are pulling Wild Parsnip and White and Yellow Sweet Clover.  All are biennials, so if I can get them pulled before they go to seed, I’ll reduce their numbers next year.

Parsnip pulling is mostly in the wetland.



Some of the sweet clover is in the wetland but mostly it’s on top, in areas we’ve cleared in the last few years, and a little bit in the planted prairies.

sweet clover

Mike has been smoothing and raking the driveway.  It makes it look nice and much easier to plow in the winter.



Catherine and Steve came to visit, bringing Steve’s sister Ann.  Here are Catherine and Mike on the Indian Grass Prairie bench with some pulled sweet clover.

Catherine and Mike on the bench


Someone who grew up on our farm stopped by to visit.  He lived here in the 1950s and 1960s, so he told us more about its history, and brought along a photo of what the farm used to look like.   We think this was probably taken in the mid 1950s – the farmhouse and barn burned down before we bought it.  The view is of what we call Sumac Bluff.

photo from Steve Rutchow


Last week we did our 2014 butterfly count.  It was a perfect day – 80 degrees F, sunny, and not too windy.  We saw 1164 individuals – more than we’d ever seen before in a count, and 38 different species.

Click here to see more details and photos from the count.

And then last weekend, James and Jan Trager came to visit.  James studies ants, so he inspected every ant mound we saw – which was a lot!  He found one very interesting mound next to our garage.  It’s inhabited by two different species.  One species steals the pupae from other mounds and raise them to be used as slave labor in their own mound. He followed the trails of slave-makers and watched them battle ants in another mound as they tried to steal their pupae.  I don’t know the IDs of any of the ants we saw yet – James will send me a list when he gets them identified.

Here are James and Mike consulting about photographing some ants.

mike and james

James holding two ants.


Jan is a painter, and she painted a lovely painting of Center Valley from Indian Grass Point.

Jan and painting

Jan and James on the Indian Grass Prairie Bench

james and jan

We’re finally in the process of buying the land right across the road – land we’ve wanted to buy for years.  One of the things I like about it is that it has a small Sugar Maple woods.  Sugar Maples are unusual in this part of Wisconsin – most of the woods here are dominated by oaks.  We walked up into the maple woods to take a look, and found some interesting fungi.


Our prairies are all looking very summery – very lush and green from all the rain.

Center Valley from Indian Grass Point – with Harebells and Prairie Coreopsis

Indian Grass point


Hidden Oaks Point

Hidden oaks point


Center Valley from the Knife Edge Point

center valley from the knife edge


Center Valley with rain clouds and mist

center valley - mikes photo


Ruby-throated Hummingbird and Great Spangled Fritillary having a drink

feeder creatures


Here are a few of the most recent moth sightings.

Achemon Sphinx – the first time I’d seen one

Achemon Sphinx 7-10-14


Painted Lichen Moth

Hypoprepia fucosa 7-16-14 2


Brown Panopoda

Panopoda carneicosta 7-12-14 2


Blinded Sphinx

Paonias excaecata 7-12-14 1