Journal for October 31, 2023

The air is starting to feel like winter,  and today we’re having our first snowstorm.

The leaf colors have been spectacular all month long.

Black Walnut leaves were the first to turn color.


Then Red Maples


Once those leaves start to fall the woods are lighter.


Fall also brings dramatic skies….this is over the Cat’s Paw Prairie


and the wetland.


Willows and maples are next – looking across the wetland to Maple Ridge with its grove of Sugar Maples.


Autumn prairie grasses


Western Valley – with aspens, oaks, and sumac


Trembling Aspens in the Narrows


Buffalo Ridge Prairie


Center Valley from the Knife Edge Point


Until this week the weather has been warm and good for working outside, so we’ve been finishing up some projects and trying to at least get started on others that I had hoped to work on before winter.

Mike’s big project was the annual mowing of the Narrows Prairie to control aspen sprouts.  We try to just mow the places that actually have sprouts, and leave as much as we can unmowed.


I’m still trying to finish cutting and treating the sprouting brush on Pine Point – I’m not sure it will all get done this fall.  This was a work morning that ended when a rainstorm arrived.  Here it’s moving up the valley toward me.  It takes me a while to get back down the hill to the EV, so I got a little wet.


This is a section of Hidden Oaks Point overgrown with raspberries, buckthorn and honeysuckle.  It’s at the top, just below the bluff prairie, so I’m hopeful that once it’s cleared of aggressive invaders, the prairie plants will have a chance.


Here’s that area after clearing.


I found some old photos of Hidden Oaks Point that show how much it’s changed.  This one shows how many more trees there were 21 years ago.

October 2023
October 2023
October 2023
January 2002
January 2002


This shows the changes on the top of the point.  It isn’t quite as dramatic – the flat prairie area has less sumac that it used to, but otherwise most of the difference is fewer birches on the slopes surrounding it.  These photos were taken exactly 20 years apart.

October 2023
October 2023
October 2023
October 2003
October 2003


And one more comparison – the hillside sloping down on the west side of the prairie.  Now there are fewer birches and more prairie.

October 2023
October 2023
October 2023
September 2008
September 2008



We were finally able to get our wetland fields sprayed, so now I’m using stakes to divide them into sections in preparation for planting.


While getting out stakes from my pile in the garage, I found this young Milk Snake twined around a few of the stakes.  I wonder if it’s been eating our garage mice.


I found out that Milk Snakes are constrictors – it wrapped itself around my fingers and squeezed so tightly that I had trouble getting it to let go.


Butterflies were still flying until about a week ago.

Common Buckeye


Common Checkered Skipper – the only one I’ve seen this year


Red Admiral


There are still a few flowers blooming, but they probably won’t last much longer.



Aromatic Aster


A frosty morning


Here are more autumn prairie scenes…..

Hidden Oaks bench


The view from Hidden Oaks


Hidden Oaks Savanna


Red Maple


Indian Grass Point


Twisted Oak Savanna


Knife Edge Point


Now the Sugar Maples on Maple Ridge have lost most of their leaves.


This morning’s snow