Wednesday, July 28, 2021

It's Been Worse...Throw a Bit of Fun Into the Mix!

It's getting on into the end of July and a lot has transpired in the pasture.  Its still very dry and warm...especially this week...temps in the mid 90's and a dew point that's nearly subtropical!  We got lucky about 2 weeks back and received  a little over one and a half inches of rain.  VERY grateful for that!  But still hauling water to the gardens and several smaller/newer trees that are showing stress.

I got a new toy a couple weeks back older electric golf cart!  I am breaking speed records for water hauling now.  It is everything I thought it'd be - useful AND fun!


I call it the Prairie Schooner...been "sailing" all over the place in it and does it ever climb hills well!  Both Georgie and I take it for a spin daily. carries 4 buckets of water in the back and a short filled one on the floor in front...when there's no well, and hoses don't reach 100's of feet, this is the next best thing and the ride cools you off too!

Even though its been quite dry (still in a "severe" drought) the pasture's plants have been doing their best.  We're finding things are shorter in stature than "normal" years...and some plants have actually not bloomed and may not this summer now.

But here's a few that have been showing up since the last posting...


Wild Four-O'Clock (Mirabilis nyctaginea) with a nectaring Common Looper Moth (Autographa-precationis), along the road fence line on our native pasture. These almost always get past me (the Four-O'clocks), and when I seem to remember to look - they're about spent! I also see these Common Loopers often here...I guess their larvae feed on many things here like the asters and the verbena, as well as many other forbs. Plus I see the Eastern Bluebirds feed on the larvae frequently - everybody benefits! (photograph © Bruce A. Morrison)


The Narrow-leaved Purple Coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia) has bloomed all over the pasture but now going to seed. When we first moved here 20 years back it was the only purple coneflower I could find in the entire county "and" in adjoining counties...Waterman Prairie here had only E. angustifolia. But now we're seeing E. pallida everywhere in the roadsides - even in our ditches since the county planted them about 12 years back. The inset shows a native bee collecting pollen...and I'm still trying to figure out what type it is. Although its nearly impossible to see in this image, there are 4 insects on the inset image blossom...the bee, two fly species and a very large ominous looking insect (beetle?) hidden underneath the bee. Didn't see it until I was processing images! (photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison)


Lots of milkweeds blooming in the pasture here, this one often overlooked as its fairly diminutive...but the White-lined Sphinx Moth finds it just fine. This is also likely the most numerous "Asclepias" out here...they pack themselves in tightly together in large numbers, but blend into the undergrowth well. Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata) SE O'Brien County (photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison)

A few more from the pasture...(top left to right) Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), Purple Prairie Clover (Dalea purpurea), Lead Plant (Amorpha canescens) and White Prairie Clover (Dalea candida)...things are going to seed fast. (photographs - © Bruce A. Morrison)


Top left - then clockwise - Rattlesnake Master (Eryngium yuccifolium), Ox-eye Daisy (Heliopsis helianthoides) with Culver's Root (Veronicastrum virginicum), Grey-headed Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata), and last -  Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa).  Because of the current drought, the Rattlesnake Master has mostly gone dormant...out of the entire pasture only one has bloomed this summer so far.  The Culver's Root, the Bergamot and the coneflowers are doing fine...the plants are shorter but still blooming well.  (photographs - © Bruce A. Morrison)


Its been and dry, but we're still fortunate compared to others - and we're making the best of it!

Wishing you a safe and peaceful summer out there!  Be good to one another.