Journal for October 26, 2020

It’s been a wonderful fall – lots of sunshine and gorgeous leaf colors everywhere.  Then winter arrived – abruptly – about a week ago.  Suddenly the leaves are brown and it snows or rains every day or two.  Still beautiful, but a lot more subtle.

Hidden Oaks Point looking down into 3 Finger Valley


View from the Knife Edge Point


Sugar Maple woods on Maple Ridge


Maple Ridge


Little Bluestem and False Boneset in the prairie close to the house


The drying grasses were very red this year but the sky wasn’t very blue – we saw a lot of haze from western wildfires.


There were a few flowers blooming right up until it snowed – New England Aster.


This is a Woolly Bear caterpillar getting a bit more to eat before winter arrives.   It will overwinter as a caterpillar – hiding in some protected place, pupating in the spring, and emerging as an adult a few weeks later.   The adult is called an  Isabella Moth.


Fall foliage colors of Showy Goldenrod


Red Maple at the edge of Twisted Oak Savanna


Twisted Oak Savanna – an area we cleared of brush a few years ago


More of Twisted Oak Savanna


All that sunshine meant that we got a lot of late summer and fall projects done.  This is a part of the Narrows Prairie that Mike mows every year to discourage aspen sprouts.  He tries to leave as much unmowed as he can – as refuges for insects and small animals.


More aspen mowing in the Cat’s Paw Prairie


Western Road – the trail we use to get to our projects that are on top of the hills.


Oak along Western Road


Deer along Western Road


For our fall project this year we worked on two edges of the Knife Edge Prairie – a prairie remnant that we’ve been clearing and enlarging for many  years.  Mike worked on the east side – clearing a jungle of brushy shrubs and fallen logs from an area that used to have a small grove of Black Walnut trees.  Here it is before he started work.


And this is after he’d cut and removed large bushes and logs and mowed the smaller brush.   The main part of the prairie is on the left, and on the right is a deep valley edged with big old oaks.


I worked on the west side of the remnant – clearing out buckthorn, prickly ash, honeysuckle and dogwood.  Here’s what it looked like before I started.


And here it is when I’d finished.  I don’t use the mower, so I can’t do as big an area as Mike does, but I try to cut and treat every woody stem.  I make piles of the brush I cut, and Mike carries them away to a large pile we made back in the woods.


One interesting find was this spot – about 3 yards square and completely covered by Pussytoes (Antennaria sp.)  I’d never noticed it before.


Leaf color in the woods


Hidden Oaks bench


The snow came just after we’d cleaned up after our fall projects.  This is the afternoon before the snow.


Buffalo Ridge Prairie before the snow


Black Squirrel and the first snow


Snow in Center Valley


Morning sun lighting the ridge of Western Valley


Buffalo Ridge