Happy Trails to Us

Walking the trails in March before everything turned green

Walking the trails in March before everything turned green

May 28 – Everybody should have at least one day each week when he can leisurely walk the “pasture trails.” Trouble is, most city folks have never even seen a pasture, and fewer yet those with a kept-mowed trail around them. That’s one very special thing that we gained when we moved out here to the mid-West. In the beginning on our 13 acres, we had three pastures, but no trails. Most farmers don’t use their pastures for anything but grazing for their cattle or making hay.

One day as I was looking out at the lush green grass, I decided that we should be able to walk around ours without having to wade through grass up to our knees or higher. At that time, we didn’t even own a riding mower, so I pushed the hand mower in the first pasture nearest the house. Once around then was enough for me. Later, when we bought the rider, and ever since then for years, I have mowed a double wide path wide enough for easy walking.

Now we have four pastures, because the lady up the road asked if we would like to buy five acres from her before she put up the rest of the land for sale. “I know you wouldn’t like very close neighbors,” she said, “so I’m asking you first if you want to buy.” Of course, we did. Not only did we then have the land nearer to the house, but that piece of property stretches across a creek and up the hill till it meets the edge of a friend’s land. Lots of tall trees, some ancient, and others young and growing.

Empty chairs on our peaceful porch

Empty chairs on our peaceful porch

So at the end of the beautiful day recently when we had enjoyed the peace and quiet of the front porch, we started off to check out the flowers, trees, and pretty weeds (yes; some weeds really are pretty). Along the way we found blackberry bushes with big white blooms, promising a harvest later in the summer.

Some areas that have always yielded a big amount of berries aren’t doing well this year, thanks to being drowned out by poison ivy, some of the biggest we have ever seen. I have found that those unpleasant plants always try to move into the trails, and it’s a good thing I can mow them off frequently. Sad, too, because the plants really are pretty with perfect leaves. Of course pretty in this case does not make up for itchiness, so we always do our best to steer clear!

Wild mustard

Wild mustard

Wild white rose bushes scattered along the trails and into the woods behind. Some delicate pink varieties joined with the white to bring more beauty to the area. Hundreds of blooms on widely spread out bushes… Near the pond we found the bright golden/brown pepper grass, one of my favorite weeds. Farther away from the trail, out into the pasture itself were milkweed plants with their subdued colors of pink/white/yellow and many pink clover balls all smiling in the sunshine. And of course, lots of bright yellow mustard. Large puffy cumulus clouds added interest to our walk, as we tried to find pictures in them. (dragons, anyone?)

Peach blossom

Peach blossom

The red bud and fruit tree blossoms disappeared so quickly after they opened last month that I needed something else to take their place. How about the irises all over the place with the largest group right down by the creek? Strange how that all happened. When work had to be done on the basement of our house long ago, the contractor asked if it would be OK if he and his helpers dug up the irises in the bed right behind the house and dumped them near the creek. Sure, that would be fine. But how fine, we didn’t expect!

Iris blooms

Iris blooms

That bed now has so many plants that one year I counted over one thousand blooms from the beginning of the season to the end. Our daughter Biz brought us some beautiful ones that were being thrown away when the plants were thinned out at Powell Gardens where we all volunteered. We planted those around the cement that covers the old well, and today there are bronze colored ones, several varieties of purple, violet and white mixtures, and yellow ones as well.

When I was a kid I used to find various kinds of white sloppy stuff on weeds in the fields that I always called “spit.” When Dale pointed them out to me yesterday, he said the spittle bug, or frog hopper, sucks out the juice of the plant and changes it into a foam to protect itself. That foam is always slippery and slimy. This pest destroys clover and alfalfa plants. Good thing we had another good walk because the storm that came up that night poured down rain on all of the trails, and we haven’t walked there for a couple days now! – CHRIS

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