Driftless Prairies: Native Habitat Restoration

Nature inspires awe!

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…]

It’s Turkey Time!!

It’s mating time for the Wild Turkey. I never tire of seeing these guys. To me, they are a fascinating critter and mating season is a super cool time. We can hear the turkeys for miles around as they “gobble, gobble, gobble.” Some evenings, it can almost be called raucous, although I tend to reserve that description for the Sand Hill Cranes. [Read more…]

Spring Peepers

Spring has sprung, according to our amphibian friends. The Spring Peepers are one of the first frogs to start calling and they were out in fury last night. They live in moist woods but breed in adjacent wetlands. They stay pretty much to the ground and hibernate under logs and loose bark. We don’t keep a “tidy” woods so this is perfect for them and with the neighboring spring-fed stream, they are pretty happy. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them before, but it’s rare. [Read more…]