Farm Tour – Eastern Walk

This is a ‘walk’ through the eastern half of our land.  This one really is a virtual walk – there aren’t any easy paths between some of these places.

14 – The walk starts at Maple Ridge, a north facing wooded hillside that we bought a few years ago.  Most of the rest of our land faces south, so these woods have slightly different trees, and the plants in the ground layer of the woods are slightly different.  The floor of the woods is mostly ferns and Wild Geranium.

 

14 – There are several species here that we haven’t seen on the rest of our land – including this Mountain honeysuckle.

 

14 – Bent Trillium is much more common than on the rest of our land

 

14 – This spring I saw Scarlet Tanagers nesting here.

 

14 – The hill has a large grove of Sugar Maples – another species we don’t have much of on the rest of our property.

 

14 – Our land goes up and over the top of the ridge, and part way down the other side.  That south facing slope has some small, overgrown bluff prairies.  We did a little brush clearing on this one.

 

14 – And found one more new plant for the farm – Cylindrical Blazing Star – one that grows only on dry prairies.

 

14 – Across the wetland from Maple Ridge is Sumac Prairie – our largest remnant.  It has two large prairie areas with savanna between them.  We’ve been working to enlarge and restore both the prairies and the savanna.  It’s easiest to see the prairies in the winter, when there are no leaves on the trees.

 

15 – There’s no good way to go straight across the valley here, so this is a ‘virtual’ part of the walk.  First we cross the valley with the creek and the wetland.

 

15 – This is the creek, in the middle of the wetland.

 

16 – Looking back from Sumac Prairie, we can see Maple Ridge on the far side of the road.

 

16 – This is the main part of Sumac Prairie – it’s very steep which makes it difficult to walk.

 

16 – More of the open part of the prairie

 

Sumac Prairie has big patches of prairie flowers.

16 – Bird’s Foot Violets in the spring

 

16 – Whorled Milkweed

 

16 – This is the caterpillar of a rare moth (Unexpected Cycnia) that I’ve found here a few times, eating the leaves and pods of Whorled Milkweed.

 

16 – And this is an even rarer moth – a Northern Flower Moth.  This spot is the farthest north it’s ever been found in Wisconsin.

 

16 – Rough False Foxglove is an unusual dry prairie plant that doesn’t grow anywhere else on our property.

 

16 – This is the savanna area along the top of the point, above the prairie.  We’ve cleared the brush that surrounded the oaks, and the savanna plants are starting to recover.

 

16 – This is where we found the largest tree we’ve seen on our property.  It’s a Black Oak, and we measured it – 151 inches in circumference.

 

16 – There’s a ridge of limestone in the woods below the point.  The aspens have invaded the prairie that was there originally, so I’ve spent the last few years getting rid of the aspens, and cutting brush.

 

16 – Now it’s starting to look like this.

 

17 – Continuing on the walk to the north, we go down the hill through some thick woods.

 

There are several small native orchids that grow on these wooded hillsides.

17 – Rattlesnake Plantain

 

17 – Frog Orchid

 

17 – Showy Orchis

 

17 – Lily-leaved Twayblade

 

18 – At the bottom of the hill is 3 Finger Valley, a long narrow valley that begins just north of our house, and has one of our early planted prairies.

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18 – Green-headed Coneflower, Black Snakeroot, and American Bellflower grow under Black Walnut trees along the edge of 3 Finger Valley.

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19 – 3 Finger Valley where it splits into 3 valleys

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19 – Looking back down 3 Finger Valley from the middle valley

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20 – Hidden Oaks Prairie is another south-facing dry prairie point with several large savanna remnants.  The top has a wonderful view down through our land.

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20 – Hidden Oaks Point in the fall

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20 – North of the prairie point are areas of overgrown savanna which we’ve been working to clear.  This is looking from the edge of the restored savanna, back out onto the prairie point.

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20 – Farther back on the point is an area that used to be a thick grove of aspen and birch.  We cut and removed many of the trees, and the prairie plants are starting to return.  We mow once a year or so to keep the brush from growing back.

 

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20 – Just north of the savanna is a small remnant that we call Hidden Oaks Meadow.  Beyond the meadow, past the big oak tree, is one of the planted prairies.

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20 – Hidden Oaks Meadow has a large population of Rough Blazing Star.  It’s a favorite nectar plant for Monarchs during their fall migration.

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20 – The sides of Hidden Oaks Point are areas of overgrown prairie and savanna.  We’ve been working hard to clear out the brush and trees.  In the fall of 2015 we did a big clearing project on south-east facing slope of the point.  Here’s the way it looked at the end of the season – just before snow came.

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21 – Northeast of Hidden Oaks is the Cat’s Paw Prairie – another of the planted prairies – with Spiderwort, Golden Alexander and Northern Bedstraw.

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21 – Cat’s Paw Prairie

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21 – The Cat’s Paw Prairie has more sunflowers than our other planted prairies.

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22 – Coming back around toward the south again is the Knife Edge Prairie – one of our favorite remnants.  We started clearing and mowing this area right after we discovered it in 2001.  At first we couldn’t see many prairie flowers, but after about 3 years they really started coming back and now it’s one of our most successful restorations.    This is walking from through the woods toward the open, cleared area.

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22 – The Knife Edge Prairie is our only remnant that has many Butterfly Milkweed plants.  There were only a few the first year after clearing, but now we see new ones every year.

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22 – American Woodcock nesting at the edge of the prairie

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22 – Late summer flowers in the Knife Edge Prairie

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22 – Leonard’s Skipper – a small unusual butterfly that we see in the Knife Edge Prairie

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23 – This is the beginning of the ridge that gives the Knife Edge it’s name.

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23 – The path follows the top of the Knife Edge ridge.

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23 – This is the view from the Knife Edge Point – looking back down Center Valley toward the house and the wetland.

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23 – This shows some of the hillside below – looking from the path back up to the point.

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This is the end of the tour.  Here are the links back to the 3 parts of the tour.  Western Walk  Eastern Walk  Main Farm Tour