Journal for August 2002


The house is coming along.  On Tuesday we saw it with its roof on, and all the rooms framed in.  I think it will be great.  The rooms aren’t huge, but they’re comfortable feeling, and the windows are big.  The attic room is very large, and will make a good music and project room.  And the basement is big enough for a large wood shop, and plenty of room for seed drying and sorting.

On the drive in we saw “puddling” on the gravel road by both Tiger and Giant swallowtails.  There were at least 20 butterflies, about half of each species.  This has been a good year for Giant Swallowtails.  I had never seen one before this summer, and for the last few weeks we’ve seen several on each visit.  A few weeks ago we saw several Coral Hairstreaks on Butterflyweed in the Knife Edge field.  That was the other new butterfly for this summer.

On Tuesday we mowed the path through Goldenrod valley for the first time this year.  Mike mowed the lower area with the tractor, and I did the steep upper part with the weed whacker.  I feel much better about not having Mike drive or slide down that top part in the tractor.  The lower area is through the wide area that Mike mowed last summer, and instead of being all goldenrod, it has lots of Monarda.  So it was all purple, and looked beautiful.  It will be interesting to see if other things come back if we keep mowing it.  Maybe we’ll try mowing it again next spring.  I had fun clearing the upper part of the path, even though it was very warm; 95 was the temperature on the cabin thermometer, although the one in the car only said 85.  Anyway, it was hot!  But I found a new plant, Prairie Willow, the only willow that grows in dry places.

Mike mowed Three Finger Valley, for the second time this summer.  I think it was a perfect time to mow – there were lots of tall weeds, just ready to bloom.

The Knife Edge field, where Mike mowed last year, is looking very good.  Los of prairie plants coming up, and more flowers than the unmowed part.  I think we’ll try mowing the rest of it next spring to see if things bloom more. He mowed more dogwood at the northern end of the field a month or so ago, but the bushes are already starting to grow back.  I think he’ll have to mow again this fall to really set them back.

We went down to the farm overnight to show it to Michael Goldberg and Ginny, and today we sent them on their way to St. Louis.  We stopped on the way to have lunch at the Harbor View.  It was fun to be able to share three entrees and try some desserts.  We were really full when we left!

We took them on a tour of the house, and then a walk up the Knife Edge and down the new path through Goldenrod Valley, and then a gator ride to Sumac Prairie.  All the prairies seem to be full of Sweet Clover, and Queen Anne’s Lace, and Sumac this year.  It’s a little discouraging, and I don’t know how to get rid of it all.

There were lots of Giant Swallowtails “puddling” on the driveway, and flying everywhere.  It’s amazing how many there are.  There are more of them than any other kind of butterfly right now.  We just got a bigger memory chip for the camera, so I took lots of pictures, and they came out pretty well.  The other nice thing, is that when they’ve found a good spot on the driveway, they stay very still unless you get very close, or move very suddenly.  So it’s easy to get close enough to get good photos.

We also saw lots of Hummingbird Moths, especially in Goldenrod Valley.  They especially liked the Monarda, and in one place we could see at least 15 at the same time.  Mike says their wings make a ticking noise when they fly.

A nice cool day for working.  I worked on cutting and spraying sumac on Hidden Oaks Prairie, while Mike mowed the rest of Three Finger Valley and started on the Knife Edge field.  Unfortunately we had left a big stump sticking up, and he ran into it with the tractor, and damaged some of the underside – probably the transmission, so we’re having the repair guy come out tomorrow to fix it.  We tried towing it down the hill, but we were too tired, and it’s too big for the small tractor to pull.  A walking stick climbed onto Mike’s shirt.

Still lots of Giant Swallowtails everywhere.

The house got all its windows today.  It looks much more civilized now.


Mike did get the new tractor fixed, more or less.  A guy came out from the implement place in Menomonie, with a huge crowbar, and bent things back into place enough that it works again.  Very impressive!  We’ll have it looked at more carefully this fall, after all the mowing is finished.

Last week we had the party for the folks in the valley at Jackie and Dan’s place.  It was great fun.  Dan was a little annoyed because lots of the people, who had said they would come, didn’t come.  But for us, it was just enough people to be able to remember their names.  We had it in the back yard, looking out over the valley and Laehn Ridge Road, (we only saw about 3 cars the whole evening).  Robert and Richard came along, and played music, and talked with people.  I think they enjoy being included in adult events, and being treated as adults.  Richard’s music was a big hit.  Everybody liked hearing Robert, but he hadn’t learned any finished pieces, and was nervous about playing them, so he kept the volume turned down, and it was hard to hear him.

Liz and Joseph and their younger son, Langston, came; and four Schultzes, Ron and Sue, who are building the new house on 88, and Karen and Mark, Ron’s brother, who also live on 88, on their family farm.  David Tork came – it was great to finally meet him, and Emmett, and Carolyn and Perry.  Everyone seemed to have a good time – it would be great to make this a yearly event – we’ll have to have it next year at the new house.