[To see photos and stories of this prairie in other years, go to the links on the main Sumac Prairie page.]
I worked on clearing brush from the east side of the prairie this spring, with help from my cousin Joan; a crew of Prairie Enthusiasts came and cut brush for a day in the fall; and then Mike and I cleared more brush until late November.
This photo is from 2/28/2010 – just as the snow was disappearing.
3/15/2010 Joan and I worked on the east side of the prairie – near the top – trying to clear out prickly ash, aspen saplings, sumac, and honeysuckle. This is a before picture
3/15/2010 After cutting
The steep, sandy part of the prairie always has the earliest blooming flowers. These are the first ones that bloomed this spring: Common Whitlow Grass – not really grasses – they’re in the mustard family. They’re annuals, and even including the flower stalks are only about two inches high.
8/4/2010 View of Sumac Prairie from the road
9/6/2010 Gray Goldenrod
10/8/2010 Looking east from the overgrown savanna into the big prairie
10/8/2009 The same view, a little farther down the slope
10/8/2010 This is the same view looking up the slope toward the prairie. The upper slope is much more overgrown.
10/10/2010 The Prairie Enthusiasts came to work on brush cutting. Here we are getting organized.
10/10/2010 Here’s the crew working on the prairie. We were cutting those dense thickets of Sumac right at the top of the slope.
10/10/2010 Mike took this view of us from the road.
10/10/2010 The thickets were pretty dense – we were cutting in crowded, prickly, scratchy places.
10/10/2010 The view, and some of the cut brush
10/10/2010 One of the cut areas – some of the guys got into felling trees too.
10/10/2010 There are big patches of the prairie that are much more open now. The dead branches should disappear after a year or two.
10/21/2010 After seeing all that progress, Mike and I got inspired to do more work. I worked on my own for a while. This is one of the clumps of Burr Oaks in the savanna between the two prairies.
10/21/2010 Cutting brush on the prairie hillside
11/1/2010 Then Mike came with the tractor and the weedwacker, and we made more progress. We first wanted to move the brush piles we made on the workday. To get to them, we had to clear some of the savanna area on top, above the prairie.
11/1/2010 Then Mike could get down there with the powertrack to move the piles.
11/1/2010 He carried them back into the woods
11/1/2010 We made a giant pile of brush back in the woods.
11/1/2010 The brush piles from the work day are mostly gone now.
11/4/2010 Mike tried to get one last pile, but the powertrack got stuck on a rock.
It was quite a project – and a little scary – getting the rock out, and the powertrack unstuck and back to the top.
11/5/2010 We also did more clearing – this is just to the east of where the Prairie Enthusiasts had worked. To the right is an area that we’ve cleared, to the left is what we were clearing. Mike did this with a weed-whacker, and I came along behind with a spray bottle of glyphosate to treat the stumps.
Here’s the cleared swath.
11/8/2010 We also worked in the savanna area on top, above the prairie. I had girdled the aspens there a few years ago, so they were dying and falling down. Mike did the cutting – alternately with a chain saw and weed-whacker – and I treated stumps and made piles. This photo was taken before we started cutting – big, old oak trees, with thickets of brush under them.
11/8/2010 After some cutting
11/19/2010 Some of our new brush piles. Next spring we’ll come back and move these back in the woods.
I also spent some more time cutting brush by hand, on the steep part of the prairie.
By this time it was the end of November, and getting too cold to do much outside work. The prairie and the savanna above it look much more open.