I am feeling a little under the weather. Maybe it's a side effect from the second part of the shingles vaccine that I took yesterday. Or perhaps it's a type of seasonal affective disorder, brought on by the ongoing smoky environment and the shortening days. As I thought about writing a blog post this week, it took some effort to screw up the energy to do it. I decided I would take an easy route, and stroll the back forty for some inspiration. Do you suppose it is just a coincidence that most of the pictures are plants that have gone to seed? Gone to seed: showing signs of advanced wear and tear and neglect. (Merriam Webster)
Despite ongoing spraying, thistles are abundant in our lower prairie. A plant can produce up to 6,000 seeds that can persist in the soil for over 9 years. As the saying goes, it's a marathon, not a sprint. I have taken to cutting off the heads to at least halt the seed production.The Labor Day wind storm brought down a couple of our aged aspen trees, with collateral damage on the younger aspens nearby. A close look at the stump shows that it was becoming hollow; sawdust would suggest that termites were hard at work. In the end, it was no contest for the 40+ mile an hour winds that day. I used to put my trail cam near here, since the deer have worn a path through this grove of aspens. They will have to adjust their route! For now, they have been continuing to frequent the area to eat the aspen leaves that are suddenly within reach.
Shorter days and lower night-time temperatures are wielding Nature's paintbrush, revealing yellows, oranges and reds that have been hidden by abundant chlorophyll.
Not everything in my world of Nature is rolling up the carpets for the winter. I can't tell you how many of these ant hills we have around our property, but I can tell you that they are still very active, as you can see in the video below. I could spend hours watching this activity and trying to make some sense of it. How tall does the hill need to be for it to be done? Are any of the sticks food? If not, who is focusing on the food part of the equation? I have written before about the beaver family that occupies the lake at the bottom of our property. When the beavers moved in, they applied their superior engineering skills and very effectively dammed the creek and raised the water level. While this is a boon for the wetland ecosystem around the lake, it had the undesirable consequence of dramatically reducing water flow to several of our neighbors, some of whom rely on the water for their cattle. The battle of the brains began, man versus rodent. How to restore some water flow without impacting the beaver, and in a way that the beavers would ignore? Initially, every solution the team created was thwarted by the beaver; ditches were filled in overnight, pipes with holes were plugged with mud, strategically placed boards were removed and added to the dam. It was equal parts funny and frustrating. At this point, it seems the latest man-made engineering feat has worked, but only time will tell. On my last visit to the dam, I observed that the beaver has begun constructing a secondary dam, 15 feet below the original dam. It has not stopped the water flowing into the creek, but I am not sure the critters are done yet! Watch this space!
If you look hard enough, you can also find some plants with blooms.
I try to ignore for the moment that the daisies and knapweed are considered invasive here. If I get too focused on them, this walk would turn into a weed-pulling exercise rather than the diversion it is meant to be!