Driftless Prairies: Native Habitat Restoration

Nature inspires awe!

Alternative Fuel Society

One of the great discoveries of Blanchardville was finding the Alternative Fuel Society (AFS), where we get to sample great varieties of “fuel” and socialize with wonderful people.  We keep the gatherings simple.  Bring any variety(s) of beer or wine; bring a glass; and bring a snack to pass. We deposit all “fuels” on the table so anyone can try whichever sounds good to them. We have some wonderful brew masters who bring homemade beers and/or wines, which are unique and delicious! We also have some great cooks who love to share their talents with us as well! If neither beer nor wine interests you, some folks have brought others types of brewed or fermented beverages to share. As we say, “it’s all good!” [Read more…]

Head Start Program for Wisconsin Turtles

The Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources (WDNR) initiated a program they call the Head Start Program. The idea of this program is to foster endangered turtles through their most vulnerable predation stage, which is when they are very small and their shells are soft. Out of the 11 turtle species in Wisconsin, 5 are on the endangered list; the remaining 6 are in moderate decline. This program serves several of the turtle species but fosters out the ornate box turtle and the wood turtle, both endangered because of the pet trade. [Read more…]

Reed canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea)

This cool-season grass is the curse of restorationist!! Its growth is aggressive, it is difficult to eradicate, and it destroys plant diversity by creating a monoculture. Preliminary research shows that there are negative effects on wildlife as well.
The adage, “Know thy Enemy,” is very true in restoration work.  [Read more…]

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

The bane of woodlands!!! This nasty little invasive has the ability to takeover a woodland area with a “take no prisoners” approach. When we purchased our land in 2005, which included 3 acres of woods, there was a near monoculture of garlic mustard. We began in earnest to rid our woods of this even though “eradicate” and “garlic mustard” are never used in the same sentence. [Read more…]

Soil and Chocolate Cake

Just got a dump truck of soil delivered for our raised bed garden. It looks and smells great!
I’ve become intrigued with soil. I realize I’ve been interested in it for some time. I recall as a young un’ a book entitled SOIL that my dad owned. I tried to read it once when I was in grade school. I didn’t get too far into that masters-level college tome, but the idea of reading it never left me. At a recent prairie conference, one of the speakers reinvigorated my fascination. [Read more…]

A Chorus of Song

The Western Chorus frogs (Pseudacris triseriata), now known as the Midland Chorus frogs, are singing loud and clear. Their voices are huge and can be heard from a ½ mile away! Their name was changed when it was discovered that their range was much smaller than originally thought.  [Read more…]

What’s All the Buzz About?

Jim has had a fascination with bees since I’ve known him. He’s now putting that fascination into action with a new hobby!! After talking with some good friends who are beekeepers Jim learned of the Dane County Bee Association. It conducts 4 classes over the course of the summer on how to build hives, locate hives, introduce the bees, care for the bees, and harvest the honey. It’s certainly not a “build the hive and they will come” scenario.  [Read more…]

Bluebird Trails

Since 2005, Jim has monitored 16 bluebird boxes, known as the Hess Trail.  In the 3 years we have monitored, we fledged a total of 94 babies. Click on the Hess Trail and you’ll see up-to-date numbers. In 2011, we have expanded to 24 boxes and he plans to ride his bike to check them! Keeping it eco-friendly where we can! When he checked on Sunday, we had 6 nests and 4 eggs. [Read more…]

Root Stimulant or Inoculant?

In my quest to provide a healthy environment for the plants, shrubs, and trees I am planting, propagating, and nurturing, I’ve been reading about soil and soil life. It’s totally fascinating! I know soil health was important but am continually amazed and awed by life and how it works. [Read more…]

Prescribed Burns – Woods and Prairie

We completed our first prescribed burn in our woods and prairie this year! We spent several days preparing for this by clearing trees that fell during the winter. We used a backpack blower to clear around snags, trees, and the 2 brush piles we’re keeping for habitat purposes. We also mowed and blew a firebreak between our property and the neighboring property. [Read more…]