Friday, June 5, 2009

Wildflowers and Critters

It was a beautiful weekend to be in the Nebraska Sandhills. I left Sutherland in great time - getting out at about 9:30, intending to spend a full day working on the cabin. The drive was much too beautiful to speed through, so I took my time, stopping many, many times along the way.

I can see now that the greatest challenge in finishing this project is going to be all of the distractions!

I made it as far as the Birdwood Creek crossing of Prairie Trace Road, then the temptation was just too much. This is looking east.
Click on pict to enlarge - it's better that way.

I climbed down into the creek bed and took this shot looking back (west) under the bridge. The riprap and retaining wall is to control erosion.



This picture is back up on the road looking west.

If I was a blogger worth my salt, I would take the time to research the names of all these beautiful wildflowers. It will have to suffice that I'm posting pictures of them.
This one, I do know. It's one of my favorite Nebraska plants, the Yucca. If left unmanaged, they can take over the prairie, but if cattle are put out to pasture at the right time, they won't spread because the flowers are delicious! I mean, really - not only cows find them delicious, they actually are. No flowers means no little baby yuccas, good for control. The flower stalks are just starting to shoot up. I'll try to get more pictures as the spring and summer progresses.
Some pretty yellow flowers. At this point, I have to be honest and admit that I have been the first to use the 4X4 Low in the Mister's new Ford F-150 pickup that he graciously let me use today. I think I'm safe in this admission because he doesn't read the blog. I pulled a little too far off the pavement to get some pictures, then couldn't get back up on the road! A flick of the switch and I was good to go.
Some antelope, doing what antelope do best - running!

Isn't this tempting? A sight like this just screams ROAD TRIP!
A camera really can't do it justice. This is the view from top of the first high hill north of the Birdwood Creek. Looking east.
Same place, looking west.

Wild roses.

Ah, and here it is! My destination.
I often lament that most Sandhill ranchers raise Angus (totally black) cattle - good for beef, but not so much for taking pictures! So, when this specimen made itself available close to the road, I couldn't pass it up. Definitely some longhorn in the heritage somewhere.

Are you bored yet? Proceed only if you're not too squeamish! Something to remember when going snap-happy with a camera in the Sandhills. Look before you put the view finder up to your eye!

Do you see what I didn't?

Yeah, that's what it is! A Bull snake, albeit a small one (maybe 18-24 inches long), thinking that maybe if it lays still enough I won't see it there, and it was almost right! Now even I, who thinks snakes are wondrous creatures, was startled, to say the least.

Just a little touch on the tail and he took up a defensive posture - much easier to photograph!

And now on to the work! Earlier last fall and winter, the Mister and I had cleared away the porch that had fallen in, then some chainsaw work (by the Mister, not me!) took care of the tree that caused the collapse. So today, I cleared away a foot or so of debris and dirt and uncovered a date scratched into the concrete. The same date that the McPherson County Clerk has for the construction of the cabin - 1918! Pretty good confirmation I would say.
So, here it is! We now have a front porch.
With all my dawdling in the morning, I didn't get nearly as much work done as I had intended - as you can no doubt see from the grime that still remains. But, look through the filthy window and see the turtle dove that built her nest on the ledge. I can hardly stand the pressure, wanting to get the work done, but not wanting to to disturb her. She flew off a couple of times, but came back, so I don't think I bothered her too much.
It wasn't only the birds outside that were bothersome. A pair of Barn Swallows decided to check out the one working window in the whole place that I had opened. The first one figured out how to get back out in short order, but his mate had a harder time of it. Now I felt like Captain Jonathan on the Time Bandit (inside joke for Deadliest Catch fans!). I managed to catch him and release him back outside - and didn't get any love, either!


Storm clouds started popping up shortly after 4:00, and this time it didn't look as if they were going around. Not wanting to be responsible for the first hail damage on the new pickup, I packed up and headed out with a lot of work left to do. There will always be another day.

Thanks for stopping by. Want to enjoy coffee on the front porch!

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