Just a few quick pictures & thoughts as we head into the Longest Night, and tie up the end of 2021. Can you believe it?!
I did some final supplemental seeding on a 5 acre field of Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) that we will be grazing next summer for the first time. Big bluestem is a native, warm-season grass. 95% of the pastures in our region are cool-season, which produce most heavily in spring and fall. Warm-season grasses (surprise!) provide most of their growth and nutrition during the summer heat. It is commonly grazed out west, but almost no one in the area does it. For more reading, see Iowa State U. on incorporating prairies in multifunctional landscapes.
I recently read that Illinois Bundleflower (Desmanthus illinoensis), a native legume, is also used in pastures, so I put down several pounds of this as well. It’s a favorite of our Maria Center resident Elsa, who faithfully scouts our existing plants and collects seeds for me. I supplemented her harvest with some from commercial growers, who really help us scale up.
I started another little experiment over at Moontree, related to the timing of prairie sowing & the use of fire. More details next year.
It required mixing up a small, custom mix of species. The next photo looks a little suspicious, but I assure you what I’m doing is perfectly legal! 😉
The seeds are quite beautiful…
I recently took a little spiritual retreat at GilChrist and stayed in the Hawk’s Nest cabin. I certainly love to see all the prairie incorporated thoughtfully in the landscape. However… it’s kind of like I didn’t leave work, so it was a challenge for my headspace to not be distracted. “Hmmm… I wonder how they manage prescribed fire. Oh, there’s an invasive species someone should take care of…”
A drone photo would be much better, but here’s an oblique look at their prairie labyrinth, which is quite large.
I easily made it there at highways speeds & cold temps in the electric LEAF, and I knew I’d get a full charge upon arrival thanks to their solar-canopy charger:
Speaking of which, a car dealership by Wal-Mart recently installed this DCFC (direct current fast charging) station. Fortunately it looks like it’s operated by Blink, one of the major networks .This will improve the odds that it will be properly maintained over time. Reliability can be a challenge with DCFCs when the commitment is lacking.
The funny thing is that I doubt I will ever use this station. Almost all EV charging is done overnight where cars are parked, so DCFCs are most needed on highways a good distance from your origin point. My trip to GilChrist was in another state and I didn’t even need a DCFC. Nonetheless, this was a very needed unit near the intersection of US 30/31 and I suspect will be occupied frequently. Plymouth actually has another station coming in 2022/2023, location TBD.
Let’s just keep going with the odds and ends, shall we?
This was fairly unique… a large branch that fell and was caught by the much smaller branches of another tree. The branch was a dead pine and so less dense than one would normally suspect.
And lastly, since we are finishing up our sophomore year of COVID-19, with such angst and pain and suffering, I’ll offer the slightest bit of humor, since I think we could all use it right now.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas, for clarity in the circumstances that are before you, the courage to do what needs to be done, and the assurance that it will be all right in the end.