Journal for October 24, 2010

The weather is still very warm, so the last of the autumn flowers are still in bloom.  They’re mostly asters, but I’ve seen a few others, including violets – it must feel like spring to them.

Common Blue Violet

Stiff Goldenrod

Brown-eyed Susan

Black-eyed Susan


Frost Aster

Sky Blue Aster

Aromatic Aster

New England Aster

Here I am – taking flower photos.

We’ve been working hard on Sumac Prairie – the Prairie Enthusiasts work there has inspired us to try to finish clearing it of sumac and other invaders.  I’ve been doing the steepest parts by hand.  The sumac there doesn’t grow thickly so it’s fairly easy to clear and goes fast.

Here’s part of what I’ve been working on by myself.  In this photo the foreground and the lower part of the hillside (on the right) has been cleared.  I leave the fallen sumac scattered on the ground – there isn’t enough of it to hurt the prairie plants, and it will disappear in a year or two.  It’s much easier than trying to haul it away.

Here’s the same scene after I’ve cleared a swath of sumac – just to the right of the two trees in the center of the photo. I’m slowly working my way up the slope.

Mike and I are working together farther up the slope, where the sumac grows much more thickly.  Mike cuts it with the saw blade on the weed-whacker; then I move the cut stems out of the way – so we can walk – and spray the stumps.  This is a wide swath we’ve cleared.

This is what we’re clearing – mostly sumac and raspberries.

Here are some deer in the area where the Prairie Enthusiasts worked last week.  Deer love eating sumac, so most of the cut stalks get eaten over the winter.

This is the wooded point of Sumac Bluff, where I’ve been girdling aspens and birches.  Most of the aspens have fallen, so it’s getting much lighter and more open.  I’ll girdle the rest of the birches next spring, and clear out some of the brush – mostly sumac and prickly ash.  In a few years it should all be savanna.

I’m still seeing a few butterflies – this is a Common Checkered Skipper.

We have dozens of apple trees on our land.  Some look like they were planted intentionally, but most are scattered in odd places and probably grew accidentally.  None are familiar varieties, and the apples from each tree are different.  It’s fun, in the fall, to taste apples from each tree we come to.  Some are much too sour to eat, others are delicious.  This tree has very small, sour fruit.

The apples are only about an inch in diameter.

Our evening walks are often at sunset these days.  Here’s Western Prairie at sunset…..

…. and moonrise.

Mike did a gorgeous panoramic photo of this scene – with the sun setting in the west, and the moon rising in the east – over the prairie.  We saw it at the perfect moment!