Journal for April 2001

We brought the kids along today.  They complained at the beginning, but ended up having a pretty good time.  They each took a walk while we planted a few more seeds.  Then Mike and I walked to the top of Sumac Prairie – no Pasqueflowers.  Then we all took a walk to the Beaver Lake.  No beavers, but lots of trout, and lots of things to hit with sticks.  Even older boys like sticks.  Dinner at the Mondovi Inn ended a pretty nice day.

We saw lots of the little moths “The Infants”, flying everywhere, and one Comma butterfly.

A lovely day at the farm – low 60s and sunny.  We finished off the very last of the seeding: Porcupine Grass (not so hard to plant as I thought it might be after soaking it overnight), and New Jersey Tea.  We started up the gator – works fine – and found a couple of voles hiding underneath.  I tried out the weed whacker and cleared a firebreak for the big burn.  The snow is all gone except a few patches on the north sides of hills.  So hopefully the burn will happen in a few weeks.  We walked up to Hidden Oaks Prairie, and then Indian Grass Prairie, checking all the firebreaks on the way.  No Pasque flowers.  It will be interesting to see if we get any after the burn.  When we got out to the wetland we found Rick Gauger and his dad fishing for trout in the creek.  Fun to see them.  His dad has cancer, and not long to live; a very nice guy, and having a great time. One interesting thing – we heard what sounded like a saw whet owl in the woods across from the Y.  Funny time to be calling, 2:00pm, but it definitely sounded right.

Saw lots of Infants (moths), especially in the mud in the road.  They stay still until they’re startled, and then a hundred or so fly up all around you.  Also a few Commas and a few Compton’s Tortoiseshells.

Saw large flocks of tree swallows as we drove into Pepin.

A very nice day – a nice balance between working hard and playing (walking).

The Mississippi was at full flood stage – the highest it’s been since the 1960s; just starting to recede.  What a big river!  The pelicans like it; they were swimming in the flooded forests just north of Maiden Rock.

Our place is fine; roads slightly muddy, but the creek isn’t particularly high, so all is well.  Saw both a Great Blue Heron, and a Great Egret in the wetland.

Cleaned the firebreaks for the “big burn” which will hopefully happen next week or the week after.

We saw a horned lark in one of the fields on top – the first one I’ve actually identified up there, so I could put it on the list.  Usually I just see them flying away.

We heard frogs, just a few, but couldn’t tell what kind.  Maybe Spring Peepers.  Maybe they’ll be peeping louder or more definitely next time.

And one of the birdhouses is occupied by a family of tree swallows.

Spent 5 days putting in and finishing the floor in the cabin.  Exhausting days, with almost no breaks, but we learned a lot, and it’s done, and looks pretty nice.

The burn is supposed to happen on Tuesday – I hope the weather is OK.

Over the 5 days winter turned into summer.  I brought bird food, and the birds all found the feeder.  We even had a Tufted Titmouse on Saturday.  I hope it stays for the summer.  There’s lots of Wild Geranium and Jacob’s Ladder in the woods, not quite blooming yet.  Lots of Red Admirals and a few Painted Ladys.  We found another new spring (on our one walk!), near the west edge of the wetland.  Nice sedge meadow all around it with Marsh Marigolds, and Swamp Saxifrage.  The old field next to it is starting to turn back to sedge meadow.  It looks like it will be fine, maybe we’ll help a little by trying to get rid of some small areas of Reed Canary Grass.