Wednesday, January 11, 2012

More Field Mowed

Conditions have been pretty much perfect for mowing.  The Indian Grass is dry and is still standing in a nearly vertical orientation.  I’m getting an even cut that makes it easy to see any undesirable plants in my path.  In the distance, just past the large Eastern Red Cedars, is the last bit of field I mowed and beyond that is the former Multiflora Rose thicket.

There were no rose bushes or other exotic invasive plants growing with the Indian Grass.  The only threat to the integrity of the prairie was the cedar infestation.  It’s impressive to have an area grow untouched for eight years without having any major management issues.

Soils in this field have formed over shale bedrock and have a pH below neutral.  The Deerberry shrubs growing here don’t show any of the signs of die back exhibited by the members of their species growing on the high pH limestone based soils.

The short grass portion of the field showed a similar lack of invasive species.  The red flag marks a lone rose found growing here.

Several small Blackjack Oaks were found hidden by the tall grass.  Fortunately, I spotted their leaves soon enough to avoid mowing them over.  The oaks will be encouraged to grow while the row of trees behind is thinned.  The goal is to allow more interaction between the two isolated fields. 

These cedars are producing too much shade and have effectively stopped the advance of the prairie grasses.  Removal of a few trees and pruning the lower branches of a few others should improve the light conditions.  Sunlight may appear plentiful beneath the trees right now, but winter sunlight is of no benefit to the warm weather grasses.  By next summer, the angle of sunlight will be from the right of the picture and the line of trees will produce a shadow that will be almost continuous through the day.

The time of long shadows comes quickly in January.  By the time the mowing is finished, I’ve managed to work up a sweat.  It looks sunny, but in fifteen minutes that will all be gone.  I’ll be thoroughly chilled by the time I get JR back to the barn.

After looking over what I’ve just finished, I like to take a quick look at what’s to come.  One more section will complete my mowing work in this field.

The moon, looking extremely man faced, escorts me back to the barn.  I’ll keep working on mowing projects for as long as the weather allows.  Winter is my most active time of hands-on management at Blue Jay Barrens and weather usually dictates what form the management activities will take.


  1. I keep wondering, as I look at your images of Indian grass dominated fields -- Have you posted a list of native forbs and other grasses that grow in these prairie patches?

  2. HI Steve...Looks like you and JR have been on a real tear from todays post and a few previous ones !!!
    Those rose bushes don't stand a chance with you fella's !!
    Love the sun through the cedars, but I know what you mean about the difference in summer!
    Snow for us tomorrow...we have had bare ground with just a few quick melting snows since Thanksgiving!
    Unusal winter!!
    Like your man in the moon! : }

  3. Hi James. I haven't put one together yet, but the list would be rather long and probably misleading. When Indian Grass colonizes a new section of old crop field, it quickly becomes a thick monoculture. After a few years, the density of plants begins to thin and forbs appear. Diversity continues to increase. I'm not sure I have any Indian Grass fields that have reached a point of equilibrium.

    Hi Grace. We had almost an inch of rain today and tomorrow night it's supposed to snow. Looks like the mowers won't be leaving the barn for a while. There's another warm up forecast for next week, so the snow shouldn't stay around very long.

  4. In any case, I'd love to see some pictures of them as the opportunity arises this coming growing season.

  5. I'll make sure to post some pictures as the plants develop.