Summer at Kirchoff Farm
Even during the hot summer months, volunteers at Kirchoff Farm’s Third Saturday Work Days find the prairie loaded with photo opportunities, as well as opportunities to study animal and plant life.
In July, the sunrise was stunning the day we began our deer survey under the TPWD-MLD Program. Clouds were ablaze with color. Then the sun inched above the horizon through the tall switchgrass where we hid at one of our survey sites.
Through the summer months various semi-woody pollinator plants produce fruit, berries, and seed pods, including granjeno, anacua, brasil, Texas persimmon, whitebrush, Texas wild olive, kidneywood and hog plum. Volunteers collected and processed seeds from each of these plants. These seeds will be grown out to produce seedlings to be transplanted along our southern border in a semi-woody pollinator strip 30 to 50 feet wide. Like our USFWS-PFW semi-woody firebreak, this planned strip will provide great habitat for wildlife and serve as a windbreak to keep windblown invasive grass seeds from reaching our recovering prairie.
Incidentally, we munch on the granjeno and persimmon fruit–which are particularly tasty–as we collect the seeds.
Our milkweed garden is always a marvel. The plants produced seed capsules and died back by late June. The week of July 4 delivered four inches of rain. The plants responded quickly and were flowering again before the end of July.
Mornings produce a chorus of birds welcoming the new day. The tall, green tree firebreak around prairie headquarters (planted in October 2012 by ninety-one Boy Scout, Girl Scout, and 4-H Club volunteers from Wilson and surrounding counties) is particularly active with wildlife, including bobwhite quail, painted buntings, rabbits, butterflies, bees, other insects, and snakes, etc.
On any day we can hear several painted bunting males singing around the property. Finding the elusive birds is another challenge.
The recovering prairie reminds me of the Walt Disney movie, “The Vanishing Prairie” that our parents took us to see as kids–only happening in reverse.