Monday, December 7, 2009

Field Mowing - Part 3

The mowing continues and I’ve moved into the largest field. If I’m free and the sun is shining, I’ll be mowing. The various shades of brown and yellow are an indication of the diversity of the vegetation in the field. Besides helping me to find the invasive plants, mowing allows me to closely inspect every square foot of the field and get an idea of the health of the plant communities.

The start of the day kept going from dark to bright as storm clouds cleared out of the area. Occasionally there would be a great view of the dark sky contrasting with the woods lit by sunlight. The tall grass is more aesthetically pleasing than a mowed field, but the improvement in the plant communities will be worth the loss for one winter.

My strategy is to begin around the outside edge of the field and work my way towards the center. As I work, I round off the corners so the trip is more like following a race track. In the beginning it seems like you’re not making any progress at all. When one trip around the field takes almost 30 minutes, you can imagine spending the rest of your life completing the job. Observers have told me that I’m quite a sight as I go round and round the field. I’m told I’m even more adorable making the circuit in my blaze orange stocking cap, as I was when I mowed this during deer gun season.

The most common invasive plant has been Multiflora Rose. This field was done in two parts when last mowed, half in December 2005 and half in December 2006. Late frosts May 23, 2006 and May 19, 2007 killed back the top growth of the Multiflora Rose sprouts, so I never had a chance to spray them. A lot of the roses I’m finding now are those that I should have eliminated before.

The trees in the field are all Flowering Dogwoods. I had a fear that leaving the trees in the field would result in more invasive sprouts from birds sitting in the trees. So far I haven’t seen a significant increase in invasives around these trees.

The largest concentration of flags is along the tree line at the edge of the field. The old fence rows and tree lines hold the largest concentration of invasive shrubs. I’ll be doing some work there later in the winter. I put maintenance as a high priority and that takes a lot of time away from working in new areas.

JR has been doing a fine job on this mowing project. I’m starting to get used to the way it handles and things are getting a lot easier. At top speed through high grass, some stalks are pushed down and don’t get cut. A slower speed would allow for a smoother cut, but as I’ve said before, I’m not out there to mow the field, I’m doing a systematic search for invasive trees and shrubs. I’ve probably only got a couple more weeks in which to work and I’m not about to slow down.

1 comment:

  1. have a lot of work a head of you, but I bet you enjoy it. I love the second photo--the contrast and drama of those dark storm clouds is beautiful.