Indian Paintbrush

Indian Paintbrush
Indian Paintbrush

This Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja coccinea) has been blooming for more than a week. I thought it was a little early for it. Sure enough, there are probably a dozen more that we found today that are in varying stages of blooming. It’s going to be be our best year yet for them in the restored prairie!

Buzzard’s Roost, Pike County, Missouri

This post is not about Pearl Creek Farm, but about another great place in Missouri: Buzzard’s Roost in Pike County. This area, scarcely a half¬†mile from the¬†place where I was born and raised, is unique in its own right, but is also fairly unusual for areas outside of the Ozarks. Included are two significant cave openings, at least two permanent springs, several minor cave openings, and a sheer, north-facing bluff that harbors at least two rare plant species, considered glacial relicts, for Missouri. The area also harbors some interesting habitats for northern Missouri and has some history and lore associated with it.

Much of this area is for sale in a 70-acre tract from a landowner who logged part of it and kept it as a hunting playground. The karst and sensitive habitats are protected by a lengthy hike from the main road. I’d like to see this property in the hands of a government agency, land foundation, or a conservation-minded buyer that understands its value beyond the abundant game species present.

Read on to see more photographs of the area, some characteristic flora and fauna (including two rare plant species), or head straight to the real estate information!

Buzzard's Roost Cave opening
Buzzard’s Roost Cave opening

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New Native Planting

After nearly three years of planning and preparation, I sowed about 1/3 of an acre today with native seeds. Preparation included multiple passes with herbicide, including spot sprayings over more than two years. This year, I spent a great deal of time collecting native seeds from the surrounding counties. Today, right after our snow accumulation, Julian and I sowed them into two new areas (see map). This leaves a small “domestic” area between the workshop and the shed where we’ll have a garden, a fire pit, and continue to keep mowed and semi-manicured.

Julian and buckets full of native seeds
Julian poses in front of three buckets of native seeds and duff collected this year.
Satellite photo with native planting marked
The areas in yellow were sowed with native seeds today. The area in red is now the only “domestic” (read: mowed) area at Pearl Creek Farm (besides trails).

 

Sinkholes Dot the Landscape

Sinkholes are numerous on the karst landscape of the Ozarks, but are often overlooked. After a large rainfall event, sinkholes throughout the area temporarily fill up with water and become ponds. During most events, falling rain percolates through the karst system in these various sinkholes quickly enough that water doesn’t accumulate above the surface. With at least 7″ of rain over 48 hours, there are plenty of sinkholes that cannot drain quickly enough. All of these photos are between Pearl Creek Farm and Cotner’s Corner (US 160 and MO 123 junction).

MO 123 Sinkhole Pond
This sinkhole is bisected by MO 123 just north of the road to Cave Springs. The water here just sits until the underground drainage can catch up from all the rain.

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A Lot of Rain

Today is the second day of a massive rainfall event throughout southwest Missouri. Here, I recorded 4.69″ of rain yesterday and 3.07″ of rain today, both amounts shattering my previous one-day record for precipitation amounts. Flooding in the creek was at its highest on Saturday night after dark.

Sandstone Spring, looking upstream from our foot bridge. Note the scouring of leaves from the bank.
Sandstone Spring, looking upstream from our foot bridge. Note the scouring of leaves from the bank.

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Pearl Creek Quicksand Strikes Again

Today, I took the day off to run errands, take care of business, and get some work done that couldn’t be done over the weekend. Part of this was to order a truckload of sand so I could reseat the water tank we use to harvest rainwater for the garden and chickens. It’s an 1100-gallon tank, so it weighs more than four and a half tons when full! It needed a more stable base than what I originally built for it.

As some of you might remember, the ground at Pearl Creek Farm tends to be a little loose and can get pretty soft after a rain. I thought we were in the clear because of the cold, dry weather, even for a dump truck, but you can probably guess what happened next.

The ground and snow were indeed frozen, but the slight incline up towards the barn was too much for the loaded truck. The back tires turned the crusty snow to ice with every spin and the back end was sliding back and forth. Dumping wasn’t an option because the truck was under a low-hanging electric wire. Then, the front tire started to sink in the soft, sandy soil. Pulling forward wasn’t an option because it was just too soft.

Stuck Dump Truck
Stuck Dump Truck

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