Journal for August 14, 2010

Lots of excitement this week –  visits from friends and a big flood.

Thue and Uttara came to visit last week – it was a very hot day so we took the tour in the pickup truck.  It was even too hot for the traditional photo on the bench.  This is the closest we came to the bench – standing in the shade where we could still see the view.

We had 6 inches of rain one night, and our creek flooded and washed out part of our road.  Phil – one of Richard’s friends – had come by to deliver some of Richard’s stuff, and got trapped by the rushing water and the washed out road.  We finally got him out – and I think we can get out – but our road will have to be rebuilt.

The creek filled up to the top of its banks, and then overflowed, creating several new channels.  Mike did a video that gives a better idea of the rushing waters.

Here are some still photos:

Phil – trapped behind the washout.  This used to be a driveway.

View of the creek from Sumac Prairie – it’s a bit wider than normal!

Rushing over the road

Just above the culvert.  Usually the creek is about 5 feet below the level of the grass.

Looking downstream, below the culvert

More road washing away – this is a whole new route for the creek.

After the waters went down – this is the part we have to fix before Phil can get out.

Phil working on the road

Phil is ready to drive across…

He made it!

This is our little frog pond.  It’s a small pond behind an earthen flood control dam.  Usually, by this time in the summer, the pond has nearly disappeared.  After 6 inches of rain, it filled up to the highest I’ve ever seen it.

The neighbors also have a pond behind their dam.  Theirs is high too.

I went on a tour of some bluff prairies in Buffalo County a few days ago.  I like seeing new prairie places and meeting the folks who own them.  Each bluff prairie is different – different plants, different management schemes.  I always learn a lot.

This is the biggest prairie area we visited.  It’s several huge south-facing hillsides.  The owners burn it every few years, so it’s very open – not many trees or brush. It’s surrounded on all sides by corn and bean fields.

Here are some closeups of the hillsides.

Most of it is incredibly steep – hard to walk on.

There was lots of blooming Rough False Foxglove – an unusual plant that I’ve only seen a few times.  We used to have it on one of our prairies, but I haven’t seen it there for several years.

I also saw  White Wild Four-O’Clock – a dry prairie plant that I’ve never seen before.

The flowers are small and not very showy.

The other prairie we visited had only been burned once, and was still quite brushy and weedy.  But it has a wonderful view, and does have lots of good prairie plants growing among the weeds.

The owners at this last prairie drove us there in a couple of wagons – nice of them since it was a very hot day.  Here’s our wagon, with Scott Mehus at the front.

Back at our place, Mike and I found a Redbelly Snake.  They’re very small snakes – not more than 8 or 10 inches long.  From the top they’re hard to tell from Brown Snakes, so I picked this one up, and it definitely had a red belly.

A better view of the belly

The prairies are looking beautiful right now.  Usually by this time of the summer, they look a little dried out – but not this year.  This is 3 Finger Valley.

3 Finger Valley flowers – Stiff Goldenrod, Switchgrass, Monarda

Only a few moths this time – I’ll save the rest for another post.

This is a Scarlet-winged Lichen Moth.  Their caterpillars do eat lichens.  I don’t usually see them with their wings spread like this – it makes it easier to see the back wings.

Pink-patched Looper Moth – also called a Pink-tinted Beauty.  It’s one of two specimens on Bugguide, and the only one in the eastern part of the US.