Journal for December 5, 2017

It’s been a relatively warm and cloudy month – not good for making solar power, but great for working on outside projects.  

So this is mostly a ‘project post’.  We’ve made good progress on all of them, and even started one new one – the first time we’ve ever done four big projects in one season.

This is the largest one – the savanna clearing we’re doing on Indian Grass Point.

Here’s the view before we started work – on October 17.

We thought we were just going to be clearing out a tangle of buckthorn and honeysuckle between a prairie opening and the path, but the farther we went, the more overgrown savanna we found.

This is that same view on November 26, looking back into the savanna.


The clearing goes so far in now that you can’t see to the end.  So here are some photos I took as I walked in.  This is the first of the twisted oaks we were working to clear around.


Here are a few more.  (We still have piles left to move.)


And more.  This is as far as we got.  On the left, under the birches, is another prairie opening sloping down the west-facing hillside.  Ahead and to the right are more big old oaks, and more clearing opportunities.


Here I’m standing at the first of the cleared oaks, looking back into the savanna area we cleared a few years ago.    We’ve decided that this savanna is now big enough that it needs its own name – so it’s become Twisted Oak Savanna.


Our second project was a grove of old (mostly dead) sumacs, apple trees and prickly ash at the entrance to Hidden Oaks Meadow.  Here it is just after we started work – November 6.


And this is after we finished on November 11.  We left the Wild Plums, one small oak, and a Black Walnut that’s too big for us to cut.


The third project is the Knife Edge Prairie.  It’s my favorite of the prairie restorations we’ve done.  It’s a mesic prairie that we discovered just after we bought the farm.   We’ve mowed back the brush every spring, but never cut down any of the invading trees.  Here’s how it looked early this fall.  The small trees are Wild Black Cherry and Apple.


This November we started cutting – here it is just before we started.


No more trees – but lots of piles.


We’ve been waiting for the weather to get cold enough that the tractor wouldn’t tear up the ground.  Today was the day – we hauled away most of the piles.  Tomorrow we’ll get the bigger logs.

Over the next few years we hope to get rid of more of the brushy trees at the edges.  Beyond them, surrounding the prairie, are more old twisted oaks.


Just this week we worked on a new project – clearing the south-facing hillside behind the house.  We worked on it a few years ago, but never finished.  This is the way it looked in the fall of 2015.


And this is a similar view from a few days ago.  Now the lower area is open, with just a few oaks.  We still need to open up the upper part.


The warm weather has brought many misty mornings.  Here’s the Narrows Prairie in the mist.


The view from Hidden Oaks bench.


One day I startled a Barred Owl on my way up the hill.  It had just caught a chipmunk, and was holding it on the ground.  The owl flew up when it saw me and landed in a tree.  The chipmunk ran away.