Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Mid-May walk over the Back 40

The Back 40 is my little piece of "heaven on earth". A place where I can go to unwind, relax, think, and even escape from the rigors of everyday living. Part woodland and part pasture it is laced with stone walls running here and there seemingly with no purpose although many years ago they probably separated pasture land from tilled fields. With the last of the cattle leaving a dozen years ago it has begun to revert back to its natural state. With careful tree cutting, mowing ,and tree plantings I hope to keep it a habitat for a variety of wildlife for years to come.

The rocks that make up these old stone walls are usually covered with different types of lichens. According to an article in the West Virgina Wildlife lichens can grow directly on bare rock and actually begin to make soil by secreting acids that break down the rock. They also trap dust which helps form more soil and allows other species like mosses to move in.

A stop at the vernal pond revealed lots of nice sized tadpoles and this snake looking for a mid-day snack.

A doe skull. In late winter near the vernal pond I found the remains of what I believed to be a coyote killed doe.

For many years cattle grazing on the Back 40. In the 10 or 12 years since they have been gone the Virginia Pine have started to make a nice comeback.

The Black Locust are just starting to set their sweet smelling blossoms.

This is a clump of aspen from the only aspen tree on the Back 40. I had my nephew cut it down several years ago and was rewarded by a nice bunch of suckers from the roots. In the second picture you can see the stump of the "mother tree".

These next two pictures are of wild flowers that I don't know the names of. Guess I need a wildflower book to carry on my wanderings.

These are the blossoms of a Bleeding Heart that I planted beneath an apple tree years ago.

A wild strawberry blossom.

The blossom of the Nannyberry bush. Although a native of the east coast I've never found one growing wild. This is one of several that I have planted in the Back 40.

1 comment:

BlacknTan said...

Great stuff, as always Rick!
I never cease to be amazed at how quickly abandoned farmland reverts to a natural state..