Watcher on the Prairie

With the snow gone, the dogs and I have continued with our pastures walks. On a few occasions we have headed South from the yard to one of the furthest pieces of land and specifically to an elevated parcel of native prairie.

As soon as this land was in our possession after purchase, I was walking across it. At that time it was all cropland save for the aforementioned piece of native prairie and two other parcels that have never been broken up. Today all the land in our possession is back in grass.

I snooped through my collection of photos and found this photo of the area. The photo was taken last summer. It's not a great quality photo but the reason I share it is to show what years of tilling and seeding did to the land. The last two years of it, by our own hands, before we made the switch to grass and sheep.

Note the difference in height between that ewe coming across the bottom and where the grass is growing above the lambs. The ridge the lambs are playing on marks the edge between seeded land that was cropped for years and the native prairie. The native prairie is the higher ground. That’s how much land surface has disappeared with farming practices that do not replenish what they take away.

The dogs and I walk along the bottom of this ridge in the same direction that ewe is heading. Of course right now it’s all winter brown and soggy, not green.  We walk until we reach the cross fence and then we turn and climb up to the native prairie. They explore while I find a familiar weathered, grey prairie stone and sit, looking out from my elevated spot, across a vast expanse of prairie hills. The dogs charge about with delight at being somewhere old but made new again by the winter to spring transition.

This piece of land has become one of my favorite spots. Yesterday I sat there in the stillness of an early, windless, cool morning, the dogs trotting off on their own explorations. Then Cajun broke the quiet with a couple booming barks. He took off running, then stood still watching to the South. I could see a shape on a far hilltop but not very clearly. Knowing how far Jayde will travel in a short time, I just assumed it was her. I gave a call to bring her back.  Jayde returned, but she came from the North, and Cajun and I watched the coyote on the hilltop turn and move off, going further Southward.

Perhaps he was enjoying his hilltop moment as much as I was enjoying mine.


  1. I can't get over the difference in the height / thickness of land! Is this typical of farmed vs unfarmed land, I wonder? Could this be why some areas are low and wet -- overuse?

  2. I think we would be surprised to realize how much land has been eroded. I don't think it is common to find chunks of native prairie right amongst farmed land so we don't get to see the side by side contrast (typically all the native prairie gets broken up to create more acres for crop growing). This particular piece of prairie is rough and rocky and has a pretty good incline to it. I imagine that is why, over the years, farmers continued to farm around it, rather than through it.


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