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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Prairie restorations look messy and “weedy”. We’ve heard second-hand comments from people that some neighbors and other passersby think we’re lazy or don’t care what our place looks like. Nothing could be further from the truth, of course. Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder and I think our place is wonderfully beautiful! At the same time, I think manicured looks, well, unnatural.

Furthermore, the county comes by at least 2-3 times per summer mowing a wide path along each side of the road. Normally, this is fine as it’s better for visibility. However, it gives the non-natives an advantage over the native prairie plants. Thus, I put up signs to ask the mowers to not mow in front of the house. So far, they are more than happy to oblige.

To help everyone understand what we’re doing, signs are helpful and I’ve had some up for a few years. This Christmas, my folks got some signs made for the place. They are awesome! Thanks!

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Finally, a plant species list for Pearl Creek Farm!

After digging through notes, field notebooks, field guides, and the furthest recesses of our memories, we’ve compiled a vascular plant species list for Pearl Creek Farm. So far, we have 221 species listed, which is not bad for 10 acres. I’ve marked several with codes indicating their native status and whether or not we “imported” them as part of one of our restorations. As you can see, we have some identification work to do on some of the plants here.

With the help of John Atwood at the Missouri Botanical Garden, I’ve also compiled a list of 16 bryophytes for the farm.