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JOIN NPAT’s Fort Worth Chapter for a POTLUCK CELEBRATIONMonday, from 6:30pm – 8:30pm Debbie P. has graciously invited us to a potluck celebration.) 

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REGISTRATION OPENS for 2019 North American Prairie Conference in Houston, TX, June 2-5, 2019 Proudly Co-Presented by: NPAT,…

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Prairie Facts

Report on Maddin Prairie Preserve, November 28, 2017 by Kirsti Harms

Here’s the report from this last weekend. Kinda long, but it was very productive!

Arrival and wasps: On the Friday after Thanksgiving, my good friends Terri Siegenthaler and David Croft drove us (and a bunch of supplies) to Maddin. We arrived on a warm sunny afternoon and found both trailers and the shed full of wasps (once again). We opened all the doors to encourage them to go elsewhere. That night, Terri and I spent about an hour extracting more from the old trailer—they were everywhere!! I got online to research how to keep them out. Don’t want to use insecticide, so the next trip will involve more weatherstripping, screens, sealant and repellents.

The water tank: To stretch our legs after the long drive on Friday, we walked to the southwest corner of the property, where the water tank had landed. Upon inspection, it appeared to be intact except for the connections. David thinks those can be repaired/replaced. So, we got it on its side and managed to roll the thing back to the wellhouse area without hitting too much brush. See images below. David, not a small man, demonstrated how a person can get on the inside (Terri and I were skeptical) to help re-attach the fittings.

The roads/tour: Friday evening, I gave my volunteers the basic drive-around tour so David, who was offering to mow our roads, could get a sense of the layout. The roads are very overgrown and now the grasses are very dry. Saw a couple of prairie dogs, but it was late in the day already. The water trough is full now too. A few signs of cattle but didn’t actually see any.

The mower: David knows his way around mowing and we were hoping to utilize this skill on Saturday. However, after spending most of the day trying to get our riding mower started, he was unable to succeed. He and Glenn suspect rats have gnawed the wiring, creating a short. I’m trying to round up a repairman. David bought pepper-based rat repellent to put under the mower from now on. Unfortunately, for our bird survey, the roads are still overgrown. But they are driveable.

Also, thanks to David, I now know how to start my own weedeater, and thanks to Terri, I now know where the manual is! Terri spent quite a bit of time cleaning and organizing the shed.

Prairie dog town maintenance. Terri walked the electric fenceline clearing brush away and checking the posts. We need to replace a few posts to keep the wires separated. I mowed catclaw and mesquite. We’ve got quite a lot coming up, probably because of the wet year. Don’t want to use herbicide around these animals. I think the charger battery is starting to lose its strength. Am shopping for a replacement.

New wildlife: while we were sitting around the fire pit, we were visited by a very small mouse. Its body was around 2” long and its tail was about the same length, it had small round ears, gray on top and light underneath. He was not very shy. Could it have been a plains pocket mouse?

The trailers: David brought his house jack. The Siegenthaler/Crofts donated part of their backyard cinderblock collection for trailer stablizing and got the new trailer leveled, the stabilizer legs lowered. David adjusted the blocks under one corner of the old trailer and the sticking door no longer sticks.

The new trailer has more room than the old one: a double bed, a bunk, dinette bed and a platform that is big enough for a cot mattress. So, we’ve got room for visitors to bunk up!! There is no power source, but Melody donated a large propane tank, that could run the refrigerator and possibly make hot water. (Another project for another day.) There is damage to the trailer at the wheel well (may have occured during transit and blow out), so there’s an opening into the trailer right now. I patched it temporarily with screen and heavy tape. I covered all openings outside with the black, Gorilla tape to keep wasps out for now. Will bring a more permanent fix on the next visit.

Board members: if you have not made it out to Maddin yet, we’ll be there Dec. 9-10 and some time in January/February. Come visit!! (Colorado City has decent hotel choices as well, if you aren’t up for bunkhouses or camping.)

Cultural artifacts: Before we left on Sunday, we walked over to the location of the old barn and cistern. David and Terri were very interested in this area and some of the metal parts scattered in the area. We thought it might be good to organize a work day (in the winter) to sort some of the interesting stuff and debris in this area.