Fall is gradually turning into winter, although so far it’s still warm enough to work outside.
Burr Oaks on Hidden Oaks Point
View from Hidden Oaks Point
This has been a very different fall from last year – later and slower. Last year all the leaves seemed to turn color at once and they stayed on the trees for a long time. This year each species turned separately, so the hillsides have been mostly green or brown with scattered spots of color.
I put together a comparison of the view from Hidden Oaks point from the last 4 years – interesting to see how different the colors were on nearly the same dates.
Last week we had a visit from the 3 ‘kids’ – our age – who grew up here in the 1950s and 60s when it was a dairy farm. We’d met Steve and Margaret before, but this time they brought their brother Dave along. It was fun showing them what the farm looks like now, and hearing their stories of what it was like when they lived here.
Dave (in back), Steve and Margaret
Here they are, with their parents, in 1956. Click Here to see more about the history of the farm.
We had fun comparing our names for places on the farm. This hill, which we call Sumac Prairie, they called Sheep Hill Bluff – they weren’t sure of the origin of that name.
We’re still finding a few flowers blooming, even on these chilly days.
October Lady’s Tresses
We’re into our fall projects now. We’re both working around the edges of the Knife Edge Prairie – enlarging the prairie area by removing buckthorn, honeysuckle and other invaders. This is the part I’m working on – on the left side of the photo, under the trees. Buckthorn and honeysuckle stay green well into the fall which makes them easy to spot. I cut all the unwanted brush and treat the stumps with herbicide so it won’t grow back.
Much of the ground layer under the brush is either Wild Strawberries…
It will be interesting to see what happens here once it gets more sun.
Mike goes faster than I do because he combines cutting and treating the largest bushes and trees with mowing the smaller ones. He cleared out a patch of brush along the beginning of the ridge that I’ve been eyeing for a while. This shows it before and after clearing.
Now he’s using the same method along the west edge of the open remnant prairie.
I’m rearing quite a few caterpillars this year, and getting ready to store them for the winter. Earlier this fall I pulled apart the seed heads of various plants and found caterpillars in nearly every one. Here are just a few of the ones I found.
This is a tiny caterpillar (about 5 mm including the case) that makes a case for itself out of silk and parts taken from the flower seeds. I found lots of them on Showy Goldenrod seed heads – several dozen at least on each plant. The caterpillars drag the case along with them, and hide inside it. They’re Coleophora – Silk Casebearers. There seem to be similar ones on other goldenrods – possibly a different moth species on each goldenrod species.
Here’s one crawling on Showy Goldenrod seeds – very well camouflaged!
This is a mystery caterpillar that I’ve found on many different composite seed heads – this one was on Stiff Goldenrod. It may have found its overwintering shelter – rolled up in a leaf.
Here’s another – I think the same species – inside a Stiff Goldenrod seed head. These may be the caterpillars of Signate Quaker moths (Tricholita signata). I hope I can get a few through the winter so I can be sure.
Here are a few more fall scenes.
A windy afternoon walk through the Cat’s Paw Prairie
Hidden Oaks Point
Buffalo Ridge Prairie
Sun on the oaks in 3 Finger Valley
A pair of Bald Eagles on the Eagle Tree. This is a dead tree at the top of Maple Ridge which seems to be a favorite lookout spot for eagles. We see one or two there nearly every day all winter long.
View from the Knife Edge Point
Sunrise over Center Valley
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