Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Mowing the Wet Areas

It looks like rain is going to be a regular part of our local forecast, so I thought I should get out and finish mowing in those places that get too soft and fragile with excess rains. This is a trail that begins just behind my barn and follows a small valley down to the creek. Often during the winter there is water flowing across this section. Once the water begins to flow, it becomes too wet to mow here without causing damage to the soil and plants.

The valley is rather wide and level through this section. When I began my management activities, the area was thick with Smooth Sumac and Lanceleaf Buckthorn, Rhamnus lanceolata. The Sumac has disappeared, but the Buckthorn survives as small sprouts. Lanceleaf Buckthorn is a native species that is not invasive. My decision to clear the shrubs was based on a perceived need to link prairie areas on each side of the valley. Both species are found elsewhere at Blue Jay Barrens, so clearing this spot didn’t damage the total population of either species.

Even if I wasn’t going to mow the entire valley, I would mow a couple of strips on each side of the trail. The Indian Grass is already crowding in. Once we have our first heavy wet snow, the grass will fall in from both sides and make for some very difficult walking.

JR suffered a flat tire during his encounter with the roses, but that has been repaired and he’s ready to go. This is deer gun season in Ohio, so even though he’s already colored orange, JR has added a hunter orange cap to make sure he’s visible.

The valley contains several small, deep sinkholes. The sinkholes hide in the tall grass and are perfectly sized for making legs and ankles bend in nontraditional directions. Wetness adds to the hazard, so here’s another reason for getting this area mowed before it gets wet.

The sinkholes are all linked by an underground tunnel system that runs the length of the valley. An intermittent spring keeps water flowing through the system, where it outlets into a tributary to the creek. I’ve seen salamanders come in and out of the holes and am really curious about what else might be living in there.

The wet area is now mowed. I used about 30 marking flags, mostly on small rose sprouts. As long as there are roses anywhere near Blue Jay Barrens, the birds will bring them in and I will be dealing with new sprouts. Now I’m ready for some more rain.


  1. JR is very smart to wear that cap. We wouldn't want to have to figure out who shot JR!

  2. Hi Steve...Lois has stole the thunder again!!lol
    You know i one of those thorns can go through JR"s tire I would hate to see the damage through my boot!!
    I love all you paths I would have a great time walking there except for those sink holes..I can be pretty dangerous to myself!!

  3. Hi, Lois. Now I feel that JR needs a hunter orange Cowboy Hat.

    Hi, grammie g. My boot soles are much tougher than JR's tires. No rose thorn is going to get through to my foot.
    If you did fall into one of my sink holes, I'd know where to watch for you to come out. Then you could tell me what's down there.