Journal for March 31, 2024

Most of March has been warm, sunny and very dry.   Finally, in the last week, we got a little winter – cold temperatures, and several snowstorms with a little rain mixed in.  Now spring is slowly coming back.

During the spring weather we saw moths and butterflies and a few flowers.

The first Mourning Cloak of the year – March 13


Eastern Comma – March 12


The Infant – a small day-flying moth that emerges very early in the spring – March 11.


Crocuses blooming around the old farmhouse


Old fashioned garden flowers – Crocuses, Iris, Peonies and Garden Phlox – still bloom in the old yard.


I’ve only found one Pasqueflower so far.  It’s easy to see why folks around here call them ‘crocuses’ even though the plants aren’t related.  (Crocuses are in the Iridaceae – the Iris family; Pasqueflowers are in the Ranunculaceae – the Buttercup family.)


Scarlet Cup fungus –  their bright cups come out in woods in the spring.


The spring weather has meant that I’ve been able to work a bit on a project I’ve been thinking about for a while – a southwest facing hillside along the knife edge point.  All of that side of the point faces west, but one part of the hill bumps out to face southwest.  It has prairie vegetation, but has become overgrown with brushy invaders.  It looked like a good place to liberate some prairie.  The problem: it’s very steep.

Here’s a comparison of the way it looked in the summer of 2005 – long before we’d done any work here – and a few days ago.  In 2005 there were prairie plants growing on the slope, but they were being shaded by the birch trees.  Since then I’ve killed the birches and most of them have fallen,  and in the last few weeks I’ve cut most of the bushes (buckthorn, honeysuckle, and prickly ash)  that had invaded after the birches died.

March 2024
March 2024
March 2024
August 2005
August 2005


This shows the steep slope of the hillside a few weeks ago,  just before I started work.


And this is that same slope, after cutting and treating the brush.


This is looking straight down at the part I cleared.

It’s a very long hill with lots of prairie slopes, so there’s plenty more to do.


More spring arrivals…

Chipmunks have reappeared


Bluebirds are back.  I replaced this nest box with a new one this week – the roof finally gave out although the bluebirds didn’t seem to mind.


A woodchuck on the cliff behind our house


We’ve seen a few huge flocks of Wild Turkeys.  This was a small part of a much larger flock.


The county did a big project cutting back the trees and brush along the road that goes through our land.  The folks who did the project were great – they worked with us to protect especially sensitive areas, and were careful not to disturb the ground any more than necessary.  Hopefully the native plants will recover, and the frogs and Western Red Damselflies that live in the ditch will survive.


Spring clouds over Armund’s Gap


The frosty looking trees are blooming aspens.


Then real frost arrived…


And snow


Pine Point and the wetland


Cloudy sunrise over the wetland


Yesterday I found one more Pasqueflower.  It think the early warmth and the extremely dry weather were difficult for some of the early flowers.  This one looks like it tried to bloom but shriveled up before it opened.


Sand Cress – an early flower that did manage to bloom