Thursday, July 1, 2010

Fleeting summer

Can you believe it is nearly the 4th of July??!! The prairie is in "exploding" with color at this time of year. We have several acres of pale purple coneflowers and a large field of purple prairie clover in bloom. They are breathtaking. We have given lots of tours the last couple weeks for people who want the take advantage of some rare scenery and wonderful photo opportunities. The Bobolinks are eager to perform every time we take someone to the pasture to see them. They love to show off and sing their beautiful song. It is hard to believe they will be packing up their "brood" and going to Argentina in a few short weeks. They leave late July or early August for their long flight south. The red winged blackbirds are plentiful as well as many other ground nesting species, but we have a special place in our hearts for the Bobolinks. A young woman from Maryland said they looked like flying skunks, I guess she is not the only one, after talking to seasoned "birders".
We have been keeping our crew busy pulling thistles and harvesting wetland seed, Dudley rush and Manna grass this week--we'll see what is ready next week. Have a happy and safe 4th.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Much needed rain-

After a long dry spell, we have received some much needed rain. The flowers in the prairie are starting to bloom and in a week it should be "drop dead" gorgeous!! We have a meadow that is full of pale purple cone flowers and butterfly milkweed--a beautiful combination, as well as other plantings that have been blooming for a while, and will continue until a hard frost. The rain should help keep the flowers blooming for a while. Last year there was no rain and the blooms faded quickly. Thanks to the rain, we were able to attend the wedding of our "intern" from last year, in WI. A rainy drive, but at least we were not thinking of all the work we could have been doing at home if it were a bright sunny day. The wedding was lovely and the weather was nearly perfect, not too hot, so everyone stayed cool. Menominee is a lovely town on a large river with many old and unique buildings in the downtown area. A typical college town atmosphere. We had to leave early Sunday morning to get home and celebrate one of our granddaughter's birthday on Sunday afternoon. This trip was easy for us, thanks to "Bing" directions, we did not get lost once and navigated Mpls/St. Paul without a problem. For us, printed directions, both ways-- are as important as a credit card--don't leave home without them :)) Looks like more rain is on the way--wish we could save some for a couple weeks.
More later-Bev

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Busy Spring

Wow, where does the time go. It has been a while since I have had time to write on my blog. Our two oldest grandchildren graduated from high school the past 2 weeks and our business has kept us very busy--that is a good thing! The greenhouses are loaded with plants, the prairie is blooming in yellow and purple and the grass is growing--on the prairie and in the house yard!
We spotted an eagle on the osprey nest a couple weeks ago and thought the osprey was gone for the season--but today his is BACK!! I certainly do not know what that means for the future but at least he has returned, if only for a few days. We know he has not forgotten us.
It seems as though summer has arrived, so we bought an air conditioner for the cabin, much to
Dwight's dismay. He thinks summer is ruined by air conditioning, he loves HOT and HUMID :(
There are usually only a couple days of the year he considers "summer". Anyway, our guests will be comfortable, and that is what is important.
Some of our children used the canoe yesterday to paddle the Little Sioux River, they were scraping the bottom in many places and our canoe is a very wide bottom. It seems nearly impossible with all the snow we had, that the river should be so low this early in the season--usually the 4th of July is getting "iffy" for canoes and by August last year the river was just a small stream. We are very dry and need a good rain, maybe this weekend, it is usually rainy on Memorial Day. I will try to do better with the blogging. Enjoy your holiday weekend. Bev

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

June in April, April in May !!??

We got very spoiled with the "Junelike" weather of April, now that it has turned cold and rainy in May, we are not liking it. Most farmers in our area planted corn the middle of April, (will we never learn,) on Sunday night we received a frost that turned the corn that was "up", black.
It did not kill it, but it has to start over--luckily most of the beans have not emerged, they should be fine. A frost would kill the beans!!
Yesterday we had a bald eagle eating breakfast on one of our towers and we saw a bobolink scout on Thursday. The weather has been too cold and wet for us to be out and about on our Rangers in the pasture, it sounds like the weekend will be warmer. A welcome change. We are anxious to get out and explore what is blooming, see the wildlife and grass nesting birds. We started the season with being ahead of schedule for seeding, but haven't been able to work for several days now. We have two grandchildren graduating this weekend so it is just as well it is too wet to work, no disappointed customers or family that way!! Keeping everyone happy is a difficult task :)
I have been lax about blogging the last couple weeks, but will try and do better from now on.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Day 21 and the osprey is still here

This early and delightful spring has made working outside a must! We have an unusually large amount of seeding done for this early in the year. We spent last Saturday at an Earth Day celebration, but the weather was beautiful so most people must have stayed home and worked in the yard or just relaxed outside. Attendance was very poor. :(
As of this morning, day 21, the osprey is still on the nest. Last week, Dwight observed him carrying a stick and rearranging his nest. I am not sure what to expect, but every day that he stays around, we are encouraged that at some point, maybe next year, he will bring a mate and raise a family on one of our towers.
Yesterday evening when Dwight was running his dog, he saw two Black crowned night herons.
The first we have seen this season. They are annual visitors to our wetland. I don't know if you notice, but the birds are very loud in the early mornings these days. I am awakened by their songs about 5:30 daily. I guess that's what it means to "get up with the birds!"
The pasque flowers have finished their bloom and the prairie smoke, sometimes called "old man's whiskers", is in full bud and about to bloom. The marsh marigolds are blooming and have been for at least a week--this is about 3-4 weeks earlier than normal --for here.
Enjoy this gift of spring, it's a great one! until next time, Bev

Sunday, April 18, 2010

8 days and counting

We were just out to check on the osprey and he/she was perched on the edge of the nest, standing proud and looking around. We stay well back and watch with a spotting scope.
We could see today that there is, what we think, a nest on top of the branches that Dwight
secured on the platform when we put it up the pole a few years ago. Last evening we were looking at the nest and the bird was lying down and could hardly be seen. We don't know what to expect, but we are SO excited that the osprey is still here and seems to have claimed the nest.
I'll keep you updated.
Have a great day-

Friday, April 16, 2010

Osprey in flight

Here are a couple pictures of the osprey with a fish in his grasp--look closely. Now that I know how to do this, thanks to a great computer whiz, I hope to post more.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Welcome Spring!

So much has happened since I last wrote on this blog! The pasque flowers are blooming, we have completed all of our prairie burning, Dwight has done 550acres of prairie seeding and we have a pair of osprey "hanging around" one of our nests. We have had a pair sit on the nest for the past 3 years but they are just migrating and do not stay more than one day. This pair has been here 4 days now and last night Dwight got a picture of one of them flying with a fish between his feet. We are hoping that is a good sign! We have read that osprey watch a nest for a few years to make sure it is safe before they call it home.
It is hard to believe that after such a snowy and cold winter spring would come so early and be so nice. No real flooding and the ground is mellow, a lot of field work has been done in our part of the county.
Dwight is setting the beehives out in the swamp area today, they make the best honey there!! Winter was hard on our bee families so we are getting new ones for those hives. They are in the middle of the section where there is plenty of water and vegetation for them and the flight is not far from either.
We are going to start our "prairie play day", in June. You can read about it on our website Better close and get to work. Wishing you flowers and sunshine-

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

It's been a while since I have been able to save a little time in my schedule for blogging. We have been enjoying the spring waterfowl very much. Dwight got a picture of a male and female bufflehead floating down the river-they are rare in these parts. At least we have not been able to get a picture before, maybe we just weren't out at the right times. When I figure out how to publish that photo, I will. We are getting into our busy season of planting many acres of prairie. We use a seeder behind a tractor for large areas and I do hand seeding in areas too small to get either of our tractors in safely.
I couldn't believe that spring was here to stay, but with the warm temperatures and the ground drying rapidly, I guess winter is over. We have been doing some burning, small patches, when the wind is "just right"--getting ready for some major burning in the near future. Now that we burn so many acres, we take precautions and make plans ahead of time, that makes me feel better about the safety of the burn. Last week there was still snow in the fence lines, that was a great firebreak and the grass was damp in places so the fire just danced along, it was enjoyable
I am on the lookout for pasque flowers. They are the first to bloom in spring and usually by Easter. I checked the nursery on Sunday and could see nothing yet. I assumed they did not make it through the winter, but a friend hasn't found any, so maybe they don't know winter is
over. I'm keeping a close eye out for them. Have a blessed Holy Week and Easter. Bev

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What a difference a day makes!

This morning, on Dwight's daily "Ranger run", he discovered all the ice jams and snow from yesterday had totally disappeared and the river was running free. It was actually half way across the road by the bridge, just west of our driveway. We drove down to the bridge and took lots of pictures and saw red winged blackbirds, another sign of spring. We now have lakefront property :) It is hard to believe that last August we were driving through this same body of water on our Rangers and our feet didn't even get wet. We are used to the river going out of its bank in the spring although it has not been this high for 17 years. By mid morning, the water had started to recede on the road, so the the worst is probably over, but it will probably be weeks before the water in our pasture has gone done enough for us to roam freely again.
Dwight did not find the swans again yesterday but did get a picture of an eagle in a tree by the pond and several red winged blackbirds. They are predicting a snow/rain mix for tomorrow, maybe some signs of winter will be returning--but they can't last long now.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A strange light in the sky !!

When I awoke this morning the neighbors lights were in view, which may not seem at all unusual, except we have had fog for more days than I can remember. When you can see nothing beyond your window, you feel as though you are living alone out here. Today the sun actually came out at daybreak, what a welcome sight to see this unfamiliar light in the sky.
Dwight took his Ranger and his dog, to the river this morning, which is totally overflowing into our pasture, and saw the first swans of the season. They were flying directly over his head as he drove along in the field. He brought the dog home, retrieved his camera and returned to the pasture to see if he can find where the swans might have landed. At this time of year we have literally thousands of waterfowl on our ponds, with the ice jams on the river, the ponds give them a nice place to rest.
I can't believe how fast the snow has melted without the sunshine, as I said above, Dwight was able to get to the river via his Ranger, his goal for the last week. Our normal path is still unavailable but he found an alternate route around the field. After leading a very sedantary life these past few months, we will soon have to go to work.
Can't wait for the pasque flowers, the first prairie flowers of spring, to poke there heads through the ground and bloom their subtle pale blooms-a sure sign that Easter and spring can't be too far away.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

First mud,now robins!

We were driving down the road last week, a couple miles from home, when large flock of robins flew in front of the car. I know robins often are "caught" in snow storms, but to me, it was another long awaited sign of spring. We have had rain over the last few days and the snow is quickly disappearing. Things we had forgotten to put away this fall, and some permanent fixtures of our landscape, are now starting to peek out from under their frozen tomb. We have a concrete statue of a pheasant outside our door and yesterday I was startled when I came out the door and a pheasant head was poking through the snowbank. In return for the rain and warmer weather, we are experiencing dense fog most days. The frost has "gone out" in places around our yard and near the front door so the puddles are less, but looking at all the snow piles around the perimeter of the yard, it will be a long time before it is dry. I hope you are seeing signs of spring where you are--we were visiting friends and the iris were poking through on the south side of a building--a sure sign spring can't be far away.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mud everywhere, a sign of spring!

I know it is just Mother Nature teasing us, but I love this little glimpse of spring. I heard the crows in the grove this morning, the cat is lying in front of the door in the sun--which is shining brightly, and there is mud everywhere I look, it certainly feels like spring today.

Dwight has been moving the thawing snow piles from in front of doors and buildings, so at some point, in the not so distant future, we can go to work. The snow is still too deep in the fields for us to even guess when we might be able to burn or do some seeding, but the warmer weather is welcome and we plan to enjoy every minute while it lasts.

We are going to a friends tomorrow for an overnight visit. We wish it could be longer, but it is hard to find someone to take care of 2 dogs. Our son that lives nearby has been "volunteered" for the job. It seems simple enough, but he has 4 children who want to go to the school carnival and he usually gets home from work "just in time" to to get them there--which may be his plan all along--but adding dog chores to the mix will complicate his life even more. Some of this is my fault. A couple years ago I had a very "blond moment" and bought my husband a pure bred hunting dog for his birthday. I was tired of his whining about not being able to hunt because he didn't have a dog (the grass is tall here and without a dog, you can't find the birds) and if he is hunting, he is happy and my life is easier. Where ever you are, I wish you mud.

Monday, February 22, 2010

My early return

Due the the unpredictable weather in Iowa, I was forced to cut my vacation short by 24 hours. I felt like a deserter, driving away from my friend's house on Saturday morning, but the forecast for 6-10 inches of snow to arrive on Saturday night and Sunday, was my motivation. I needed to be home on Monday to take care of business. As it turned out, they got only a dusting and I feel really terrible now!! I do feel good about what we accomplished, she and I have the same "saver" gene, we understand each others dilemma about parting with our stuff!! We made a small dent in the basement, but she will be able to continue now, with just that little help from me. When I arrived home on Saturday afternoon Dwight was actually outside moving some snow and icey piles around the buildings--I guess he was showing off for me because most of the days prior, he was watching TV, reading and napping. He was able to make breakfast for himself in my abscence, but as soon as I returned he relinquished that duty and resumed the reading, napping routine he has developed these past few months. I hope I will be able to return to my friend's house to help her, as the listing gets closer. It was fun just to see her and enjoy her company for a couple days. I have missed her. Until next time, think spring :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Taking leave--

I am going to take a long awaited trip to a friends house in Iowa City, about 300 miles away. It would probably be much easier to stay home, BUT I am going to go for a couple days. I have finished all the laundry, baked banana bread, cookies and made a large pot of soup for Dwight to eat in my absence. I need to "teach" him to make oatmeal in the microwave so he can have breakfast while I am away. I doesn't matter if he does a good job, he only uses the oatmeal as a carrier for the brown sugar and heavy whipping cream he adds to the cereal. If he is feeling really healthy, he adds blueberries, raspberries or black raspberries to the oatmeal. I, on the other hand, eat the oatmeal for my cholesterol, with skim milk and fruit from the above selection. Dwight milked cows as a boy and got used to eating the cream on everything and, lucky for him, is not bothered by high cholesterol or being overweight-both of which have plagued me most of my adult life. I have been planing to visit my friend for several weeks, but finding a few days of good weather has been difficult, it sounds good from Thursday to Sunday so I am leaving in the morning and looking forward to my mini vacation. I am supposed to be on a work detail for my friend, who is getting her house ready to sell, but knowing all the catching up we have to do, we may just sit and drink coffee and talk on and on for hours. That is the best kind of friend to have, isn't it? We have been friends for 30 years and met under strange circumstances, but were are very close, in spite of the miles between us. It is a wonderfully sunny day today-I hope for a few more of those this week. I'll update you on
Dwight's "vacation" when I return.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Just as I'm learning the rules, it's over

Last evening I attended my oldest grandson's basketball game. The team has not had a good season, to say the least, but I have never seen a team play so hard or play so well together.
Living in rural Iowa, high school basketball means boarding a bus in the middle of winter and riding up to 2 hours to play ball, give it all you have, board the bus and ride 2 hours home, many times not arriving home until nearly midnight, cold, tired and hungry! This happens 2, sometimes 3 times a week for several months. If your team is good, this continues until the state tournaments in Des Moines in March. The players are not the only hero's in this story. My daughter also drives 2 hours to see her son play, takes food, water, gator aid and is of course, a huge supporter of the entire team-always giving a hand at a missed basket or "good job" to a foul. I have learned a lot from watching the fans and I have even learned some rules or "calls". Last night was most likely my last game until some of my younger grand kids take up the sport and I must say, I am sorry I did not get more involved earlier. I am told the coaches are important to the team but from where I sit, they would be nothing without mothers.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Largest snowflakes I have seen

As I look our the window I am seeing the biggest, most beautiful snowflakes of the season dancing to the ground. If I were a child, I would run out and try and catch them on my tongue. Someone (my husband) says "big flakes, small snow". There are a lot of people out there that hope that is true. Many of my family and friends are running out of room to put the snow and are hiring payloaders and skid loaders to haul the snow away. We are lucky, we have a large yard with lots of room for more snow, although it is not that welcome!
The landscape is totally white with no place for wildlife to hide. We have seen more coyotes "close up" than in other years. The lack of rabbit and small game has us worried about their welfare but they are probably nestled in some brambles, safe and warm in our grove or the tall grasses in the field.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Winter on the prairie

This will, hopefully, be the first of many posts on this blog. We own a native plant and grass nursery in NW IA. We own a square section (640A)with a native prairie, native wetland, 540A of prairie and seed fields with the Little Sioux River running through our property. This past summer we built a "prairie cabin" that we rent to pheasant hunters and will try our hand at a Bed and Breakfast this coming year.
The snow is as deep as our grass is tall, everywhere you look it is totally white. Something that doesn't happen here often. We have had an unusually large amount of snow and now we are in the "deep freeze". This morning it was -16 degrees but the sun is shining and our 12 year old basset hound, Maggie, is laying in front of the glass door napping and soaking up the sun. Our "real dog", Tallie, a 2 year old yellow lab loves hunting and romping in the snow, but seeks the warmth in his kennel in our shop on days like today.
I am looking for the slightest indication of spring, which on the calendar is only a couple months aways, but from where I am sitting, it looks much farther away.
I am, however, enjoying the longer periods of daylight in the morning and evening.