Journal for January 1, 2016

The first day of the new year has been a sunny, snowy, wintry day.   I like doing a blog post on New Year’s Day – finishing up the stories of last year’s projects, and thinking about the new ones.

We had such a long, warm fall that we managed to do one more clearing project in November, finishing it just before it got really cold.  We worked on the front of Indian Grass Point – the bluff right above the house.  I’ve been searching back in my old photos to find ‘before’ pictures of it.

This is the first picture I can find – I think it’s from the fall of 2000 – before we started to build the house, and even before we had a real driveway.   The bare spot at the top of the hill is Indian Grass Prairie.  Below it is woods – with some oaks, aspen and birch, and lots of thick brush.

fall 2000 3


Another photo, from 2005,  of the house with the wooded hill behind it.

10-16-05 Indian grass point 1


This is a photo from last summer – of the rocks behind the house with the woods above them.

8-10-15 rocks behind house 1


I knew this hillside had been savanna and prairie at one time – there are still prairie plants growing there.  But I never had enough time or energy to clear it.  I had girdled the birches and aspens, and they were dead and falling down.  And I’d done a little hand clearing at the top, below the prairie point, and at the very bottom, just above the rocks behind the house.  This fall, we decided to work on it together with the weedwacker and chainsaw.    It was fun to do because it’s just out our door –  easy to get to, and we look at it every day.

Here’s the way it looked when we started – looking into the woods and up toward the point.

Indian Grass Point Path 10-25-15 2


This is almost the same view, after we’d cleared the brush and many of the small trees.

indian grass point 12-28-15 1

Now the snow has arrived, and any more clearing work will have to wait.  We didn’t quite make it all the way to the top, so there’s still a little more brush clearing to do, and many more small trees to cut.  But I’m hopeful that the open places at the bottom will start to recover, and some of the prairie plants will come back.

This hill already has prairie/savanna plants growing under the trees and along the path.  Here are a few of the species that I see growing there.

Low Bindweed

calystegia spithamaea


Field Milkwort

Polygala sanguinea


Yellow Star-grass

Hypoxis hirsuta



Helianthemum bicknellii 6-20-15


Dissected Grape Fern

botrychium dissectum leaf


Rough Hawkweed

hieracium scabrum small


Now – back to winter…..

A New Year’s Day view up Center Valley with Indian Grass Point on the left, and the Knife Edge Point in the distance on the right.  Both hillsides are more open than they were at this time last year.

1:1:16 center valley


The flying squirrel has been visiting the bird feeder again – nearly every night.  I’ve been trying to get a better photo of it, but I  have to compete with cats for the best spot at the window.

Flying squirrel 12-28-15


A Northern Shrike keeping an eye on the birdfeeders.

northern shrike 12-29-15


Sunset from Indian Grass Savanna