Tag Archives: plants

The drumming lover: the plight of the Gunnison sage grouse

Grouse

SEVERAL springs ago some friends and I arose before dawn in Moab, Utah, to witness the sunrise mating dance of the Gunnison sage grouse: a surreal display of nine ornately plumed, chicken-size birds tottering about amid the sagebrush like windup toys, fanning their spiky tails and uttering a magical sound — “pop … pop-pop!” — as they thrust yellow air sacs out of their snow-white chests.

The Plight of the Gunnison Sage Grouse – NYTimes.com.

Read the rest of the article and support adding the Gunnison sage grouse, the drumming lover, to the endangered species act.

On the matter of we people expanding into the wild, the veld, we decide whether to deep clean and cultivate assiduously the earth or whether to leave unturned and uncultivated the earth upon which we trod.  In between this binary choice–turning or not turning the soil–there is no middle ground.  This choice is one of those locked-down moments of either-or, either alive or dead, nothing in between, either turning the soil for cultivation or leave it alone.

Therefore, to keep alive and robust the biota of this good earth–the Gunnison sage grouse, for example, –we must as a people, as temporary tenants of this space, here and now, leave sufficient areas of territory for species to live, to roam, to rest, to raise families.  Yes, we need to cultivate land as well, but large tracts of it?  At the expense of destroying major habitats?  In response to all living things, therefore, let us ratchet down, pin down less tightly, our clearing land and cutting trees and brush, so that we as a people can rise early in the morning and attend the dance of life in those spaces we have tenderly set aside.

(To be continued, The post-industrial order.)

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Winter lingers

In the late fall, my whole front field appeared as snow with these flowers.

In the late fall, my whole front field appeared as snow with these flowers.

Winter lingers in north Erath County, Texas.  Grasses remain brown, although buffalo grass emerges through dead grass of the late fall freeze.  My paint gelding, Star, has lost weight and his laminitis has remitted completely.

New neighbors, the Stroebels, have moved onto the land to the southeast.  The husband is an English teacher.  The wife is an engineer, originally from eastern Europe.  At the first instance, I like them.  They purchased the five acres mainly for the new stone house.

By my stated goal a few months ago, I have only a month or so before my photographing all flowers on my place comes to an end.  I know I have missed some flowers over the last eleven months, but I think I have captured many.  Some flowers, like the wine cup, did not unfold last spring so they fell outside my range, but not my thoughts.

 

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Quixote and Flowers of Flying Hat (43-46)

While in Santa Fe this summer, I found Don Quixote’s image in the clouds.

Meanwhile, back at the ranchito, prior to a rain, the sage bloomed on the terrace.

I have also included four more blossoms on the ranchito.  For the last three days, it has rained and even tumbleweed has blossomed!

Don Quixote in the clouds, Santa Fe, 2012

Blooming sagebrush, Summer, 2012

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Broke Tree Corral antics and Flowers of Flying Hat (9): Blueish Ground plum

At the beginning of this Spring Break I set out to accomplish several chores:  Construct dirt foundation for alleyway and stalls, change tire on flatbed trailer so I can haul tractor to repair shop, take tractor to repair shop and return, shred mesquite sprouts and replace rain gauge.  The list changed.  No surprise there.

Putting more of a fine gravel foundation is delayed because stalls and the alleyway are still wet.  I have changed the tire on the flatbed trailer and will load the tractor later today.  Before I can hitch up the shredder, the linkage to the power train operation must be repaired.  So, the list has changed and I have conducted manure management tasks before I take the tractor to Stephenville — muckraking with tractor.

As I worked on cleaning the corrals, I let my gelding, Star, out for a browsing and to visit his friends over the fence, like neighbors chatting across the hedge in suburbia. When I went to halter him and bring him back after two hours of browsing, he bucked and snorted on halter like a rodeo horse. He wanted to remain out and become satiated with grass to a point of sleepiness. I can’t let him do that since he is laminitis prone, a condition that requires close monitoring of green grass consumption. Star entered Broke Tree Corral and continued to act horsey with bucking and running. What a day he was having!  Here is Star munching on grass about an hour before the rodeo began.

My morning had a few Kodak moments — no more Kodachrome, I know.  Digital rules.  The Bluebell bell flowers opened up with the few minutes of sun this morning and I brought the camera down to the pasture before I started cleaning the corrals.  Bluebell flowers erupt all over the two front pastures.  Where I had one patch of bell flowers a couple of days ago, now the flowering occurs in multiple patches.

The final photo in my continuing year-long goal of photographing the different species of flowering plants on the ranchito is another Ground plum or milkvetch, but with a different color, a more blueish hue to the blossom. I’ll go ahead and give it a different number because of the definitive difference in color.

9. Ground plum, milkvetch (blueish-violet blossom), Astragalus crassicarpus?

I will take some photographs of the namesakes of the corrals. I have had to give them names because Corral No. 1, Corral No. 2 get lost in the process of giving directions to cowboys and haulers.  I end up saying, Put the horse in the corral with the broken tree in it!  I have no signage for the place, just naming with visible, easily identifiable attributes (broken tree, well house, pecan tree). Nothing like trying to identify a sparrow these days, a process we are all still involved in as the attributes continue to be noted.

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Flowers of Flying Hat (1-4): Late Winter blossoms

Human beings set goals, or at least I think they should.  On the other hand, doing what comes naturally has its attraction too.  I have set several objectives regarding nature observations on my 53 acres.  Here on the place — called variously, the ranchito, Flying Hat Ranch — I have sought to identify every tree on the place and have started a good list of American elm, cottonwood, mesquite, juniper, oak, and so on.  Identifying every tree continues to be a goal.  Tree identification was (still is) my first goal in field work on Flying Hat.  Other goals I have set up include:

observing another fox and taking its photograph,

identifying every bird I see,

identifying every bird I hear,

for one year, photographing every wild flower I observe on Flying Hat.

Achieving these goals, and the process of doing so, is personally satisfying and gives me narratives for this blog.  I have decided to start another goal-oriented project and demonstrate it on my blog.  I have begun taking pictures of the wild flowers on Flying Hat and my goal is to continue photographing and identifying flowers (all colorful blossoms) through a turn of seasons for one year – March 2012 – February 2013.  So, let’s see how far I can go with this project.  Here are my first photographs.  The No. 3 flower is disputable as a “Texas Star.”

(If I have made an error in typing, please comment or e-mail me your reasons for seeing the flower and plant differently.  I want to be right in my typing, but more than that I want the typing to be correct.  Note: All photographs are taken on the 53 acres of my ranchito; none are photographed off the place or off the ranchito grid.  For a precise location of Flying Hat, see location information in this blog footer.)

1. Verbena (Verbena bipinnatifida?). February 26, 2012, west slope of terrace, Fenster's field. See Wills and Irwin, p. 189.

2. Parralena (Dyssodia pentachaeta), of the Aster family. February 26, 2012, on back terrace and in Fenster's field east of the house. See Ajilvsgi, p. 148.

3. Bluebell bellflower (Campanula rotudifolia), February 26, 2012. See http://www.wildflower.org/gallery/result.php?id_image=3102; see notes below.

4. Violet ruellia, violet wild petunia (Ruellia nudiflora). February 26, 2012, Fenster's field, far field. See http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=RUNU; Ajilvsgi, p. 377.

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Notes, corrections and additions:

No. 3 flower and plant is probably as described in caption.  Thanks to Montucky of Montana Outdoors blog and Grethe of Thyra blog.  The issue seems to be resolved it you stand up the flower and look at the total plant.  The flower would droop like a bell and the leaves and stem favor the image in the citation in the caption: http://www.wildflower.org/gallery/result.php?id_image=3102.

Mary Wills and Howard Irwin, Roadside Flowers of Texas.

G. Ajilvsgi, Wildflowers of Texas.

Campbell and Lynn Loughmiller, Texas Wildflowers.

Steven Foster and Christopher Hobbs, Western Medicinal Plants and Herbs (A Peterson Field Guide).

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