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Rufus and the Pretend Prairie

Rufus and the Pretend Prairie

Seed sowing in Salvisa, Kentucky. December 14, 2011.

Today, our pretend prairie celebrates the fifth anniversary of its first seed sowing. The prairie is our beautiful baby, and I don’t worry with questions about legitimacy.

May 30, 2016

Central Kentucky—the Bluegrass Region—was until human settlement, a vast woodland with cane breaks of native bamboo, Arundinaria gigantea. There were no prairies or meadows. Buffaloes foraged on bamboo, along what became U.S. Highway 127, a previously favored buffalo trace, just a mile or so from our farm.

June 20, 2016

Our installed prairie is still in the experimental phase—where, I suppose, it will always be. No telling where it will go from here. Biological gods will rule. My hunch is that our prairie, if we do nothing at all, will return to woodland.

July 4, 2016

A landscape of oaks, hickories, buckeyes, hackberries and maples isn’t a bad option, even while invasive bush honeysuckle and wintercreeper will continue to be a woodland menace.

Rufus the Prairie Dog. July 3, 2016.

So our installed prairie came of age this year. Big blue stem, switch grass and Indian grass grew tall and wide. They’re out competing against the shorter orange butterfly weed and purple coneflower that need a little more room. The taller goldenrods and ironweeds spontaneously worked their way into the mix. The heavy vegetative growth is so thick I can barely penetrate it on foot. There’s an easier, interesting and colorful walk along a mown path that crosses the prairie.

Wild turkey egg. September 30, 2016.

In late September, Rufus proudly brought back a wild turkey egg, clenched carefully between his teeth. A friend of mine who hunts wild turkeys said the nest was probably abandoned. Turkeys lay their eggs in late May through June, he said.

November 25, 2016. Claude Stephens photo.

Rufus brought the egg home as a generous token. The little showoff! The boy’s a step too slow for a squirrel or rabbit. The wild turkey egg was the best he could do.

 

Posted by

Allen Bush
on December 14, 2016 at 7:57 am, in the category What’s Happening.

2 Comments

    • Victoria Gorny
    • 1st January 1970

    What was the original seed mix? Were all the intentional plants from the 1st sowing?

    • Kristie
    • 5th September 2004

    Hi Allen,
    Love the photos! I’m dreaming of a prairie on a piece of property in central Illinois. One concern i have is the weed issue. We’re surrounded by corn and soybean fields, and the weeds are very robust! How did you prepare the area, and did you struggle to keep the invasive weeds out? Thank you, Kristie

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