Monday, August 31, 2015

Monarchs Everywhere!

We are seeing so many monarchs this year and it makes us both feel some hope after the dismal numbers these past few years. Chip Taylor of Monarch Watch assessed the numbers and things are definitely looking up this summer. However, to really save the Eastern monarch population, we have to boost the population dramatically more so they can demonstrate resiliency in their overwintering grounds (Mexico) in case of devastating winter storms. How do we do this? Continue to plant milkweed and yes, we have tons of for sale!

Milkweed grows wild all over our property and along many of the roadsides along here. Mowing regimes around here do not take into account monarchs or any other wildlife for that matter so we collected 30+ monarch caterpillars and eggs and brought them home to complete their life cycle in relative safety.

We so enjoy watching these caterpillars chomp away and grow, grow, grow. While sitting at our porch table enjoying some coffee, good conversation and the surrounding wildlife, we looked up and alas what do we see, but a monarch chrysalis!

How cool is this?! This is what turning your property into a nature preserve is all about...humans and wildlife living in harmony. Awesome.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Open Days at our Wildflower Farm - Join us!

Hey friends! We are opening for two days in late summer. We have a limited number of native plants (think plants to help wildlife and us) for sale as well as soap and salve. There's lots happening in the gardens so it's a great time to stop by, walk the trails with your binoculars and cameras and just enjoy the beauty and bounty of nature.

Here's the scoop: August 29 and September 12, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Here are the plants and prices for 2015:

Our address is 3344 Township Road 26, Cardington, OH 43315. Don't use MapQuest or you will end up somewhere other than here. Google Maps works well. Parking is at the green barn or the yellow house. We will be out and about to help if needed.

We hope to see you soon! If these dates don't work for you and there are plants or soap you must have, just message us and we can set up a time for you to visit. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Eagles Nest Wilderness, CO & Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, KS

We are back! We so enjoyed our trip to Colorado and our stops along the way. We decided to drive from our place in Central Ohio and it took us about 24 hours or so. Thanks to the Prius our gas there and back cost us only about $150 and with camping the entire time we spent well under $300 for this whole trip including all our food. That's how we like it!

It's been a dream for a long time to get into the Rocky Mountains during peak wildflower bloom and we both were beyond thrilled with our timing. Enjoy our highlight photos and if you want to see more, friend me on Facebook.

Getting least favorite part of backpacking. Poor Steve.

On the trail and happy again...stunning scenery greeted us immediately.


Good thing we brought our coats and hats...a cold night took us into the tent early, but we were ready after our long trip there. This was in extreme contrast to the prior night in Kansas where 10 p.m. temperatures still hovered around 90 degrees F.

The wildflowers were truly beyond our greatest expectations...words cannot even begin to express the abundance we experienced.

We backpacked a 25-mile loop in the Eagles Nest Wilderness by traversing this meadow and climbing up that hill in the distance. The white you see is remnant snow pack! The little seeps and streams (in large part from the snow melt) all along this hillside are what feed the wildflower abundant meadows.

The orange lichens delighted us!

We feel hugely grateful to have the physical ability to do this hike and to experience such wildness.

The sky on Elliot Ridge was so vast and so blue and so incomprehensible to me. All I could do was look around and try to not let me jaw drag down the trail.

It sure made us happy though...

The heart of the Eagles Nest Wilderness:

This is a place not overly visited due to the highest peak sitting in the 13,000' range versus the 14,000 range. The lowest lakes definitely see more visitation, but we saw only two people up on top. Perfect. Abundant shallow lakes just below the Elliot Ridge trail made for a perfect campspot and wildlife viewing zone.

What a campsight. I think part of my heart is still up on this mountain.

I feed my soul in these places in ways I cannot anywhere else.

To see wild creatures, like this marmot and to hear bugling elk is a gift.

We made time on our trip after our backpacking expedition for a little rockhounding for agate, petrified wood, etc. This property is BLM land and was loaded with lots of little rocks that I can't wait to tumble.

This is what happens if you get dry gulched. Beware.

The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in the Flint Hills of Kansas called our names on our way back to Ohio. We visited on a crazy hot, heat index warning day, but what a place! The Flint Hills are beautiful and filled with the last best stands of tallgrass prairie. Don't miss it!

Dung beetles made quick work of the bison scat. We didn't see any of these furry giants, but are glad to know they are there and doing what they are supposed to do.

The prairies also feed many, many others. What an incredible ecosystem!

A milkweed we haven't seen in a while - Spider Milkweed (Asclepias viridis):


We so enjoyed our trip and were so sad to say goodbye to our dear Emmylou when we returned. It seems an unfortunate series of events led to her death, but we know while she lived with us she loved her life and her fellow chicken friends. Bye sweet Emmy...we miss you!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Upstate New York - June 2015

In June we headed to upstate New York to see a friend's art show and to spend some time exploring. Rain and bugs kept us in the Finger Lakes area instead of the Adirondacks as planned, but we always keep our plans flexible to help create the best trip possible.

We still got wet now and again so time for drying our gear out in the sunshine was appreciated.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is in Ithaca, a very cool town in the Finger Lakes area , and is a place we've both always wanted to go.



Waterfalls are quite abundant in the Finger Lakes area and we marveled at their beauty and power.

European Skipper enjoying all the recent moisture:

Beautiful fields filled with bobolinks, common yellowthroats, blackbirds and butterflies interspersed with woodlands and agricultural areas offered us great sightings on the Finger Lakes Trail.

 The moisture made for all sorts of great fungus sightings too:

While exploring we often meet interesting people that inspire us and this trip proved no exception. Thank you Arthur and Cheryl for sharing your time with us! We so enjoyed crossing paths and hope your return to Canada was filled with more adventure.

We enjoyed our time exploring new places and when this is posted, we will be returning from the Rocky Mountains so anticipate more exploration photos soon.