By next fall, all of this dead material will have decomposed. The nutrients and organic matter will cycle back into the soil. The disappearance of this material is an indicator that the soil ecosystem is healthy and functioning as it should.
Most of those cedars were in the one to two foot height range, but I cut every little cedar that I could find. While mowing, I discovered and cut more small cedars that had been missed earlier. The heavy snows this winter managed to flatten the grass and allow more small cedars to become visible. Now I’m cutting very small cedars that I was unable to see earlier. This field will be as cedar free as I’m able to make it.
A watchful eye is required to spot small plants hidden in the grass. If it weren’t for the dark colored seed capsules, I would not see this plant before the mower ran it over. I do manage to run over a few desirable woodies, so it’s fortunate that most woody plants will grow back if mowed off. It’s the sound the mower makes when cutting something more substantial than grass that alerts me to the fact that I’ve shortened something meant to be left tall.
Besides watching in front of the mower, I also keep a watch to the side that has yet to be cut. When I spot a plant that should be saved, I mark it with a blue flag that is easy to see the next time I pass that way.
This nest is looking rather weathered, but I’m guessing from the thistle down that it housed a family of Goldfinches.
Many of the prairie species in the field have relationships with oaks. I thought it desirable to give some space to the oaks while I learned about these relationships. The oaks can always be cut out later if that turns out to be the best management option.
I’ve written before about this relationship. Searching the list of blog subjects in the right hand column will provide you with more details. Without oaks and ant hills, you cannot have the butterflies. The butterflies were first seen in this field ten years ago and have been increasing in number. Apparently the decision to grow oaks has had some beneficial effects.
These changes are being monitored and a future decision may have to be made about the removal of some of the larger trees.