Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year from Prairie Hill Farm!

Echinacea angustifolia at Prairie Hill Farm
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view)

The last day of 2013...I have mixed reviews for this year, but as Georgie says "even numbered years are the best".  Something to look forward to, right!?

One event I left hanging out there late in the summer was the transmission lines (to be the largest ever erected in Iowa) running along side our acreage.  This, thankfully has changed.  We had contacted several state agencies and environmental organizations about this and the encroachment on the Waterman Creek Great Blue Heron rookery across from us.  We were concerned about this, as well as the prairie remnants here in the valley that the line would displace, and of course - the ambiance that was still here - the bird songs in the morning, the insect music through the night, the views of the night sky, and the relative silence in the background of the days and nights here.  We had several individuals meet with the out-of-state corporation and it was finally revealed to us that the route has been redirected two miles further north.  Now it will only interrupt farmland instead of natural ground and disappearing habitat in our county.

This may not be the case in other areas throughout the state, particularly where it routes through riparian areas across streams and rivers.  I do know that those folks who were speaking with the corporation are also working on protecting other sensitive areas across the other 16 affected counties in Iowa; all I can say is God Bless 'em all for trying to protect what little Natural Heritage we still have in this "most changed" state in the union!

There will be wind farms built in the area directly to our west and the corporation has "officially" stated they are solely rerouting the transmission line to avoid interfering with the wind farms to be built.  Regardless of their reasons, I am still taking my hat off to the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, The Iowa Nature Conservancy, Iowa Audubon, Iowa Sierra Club, Iowa Environmental Council, and the Iowa DNR for their input in this event.  Please support these organizations and state people who are working for your children's children's future in our environment!

We're off to a cold yet sparse start with moisture this winter, but there's a ways to go - we'll see how things shake out, you just never know what the new year will bring.  The Great Horned Owls in the valley have been communicating back and forth each night...probably sizing up their nesting options.  They'll actually be nesting in the not too distant future, perhaps as soon as 3-5 weeks!  And the squirrels in the yard and grove are shoring up their nests and being amorous on the tracts of tree trunks about here and there.  I think they eat too well here as we've gotten two broods a season the past couple years here - that's a lot of Fox Squirrels!  (Keeps the Red-tailed Hawks happy anyway!)  We've also been seeing more hen pheasants than all last year; not many but at least a hopeful few!

What else will the year bring?  Hopefully some more native forbs and grasses in the south pasture.  We just completed our first planting there as the first true winter front moved in about 3 weeks ago.  That pasture will take a few years to complete but we don't plan on going anywhere!  Its fun to watch the changes through the years.

I'm lining up work here in the studio to keep me busy till spring.  Lets cross our fingers on that prospect!

And here's to sending our best wishes out to each and everyone of you - for a very Happy and Prosperous New Year!

See you next year!

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