Thursday, August 29, 2013

Little houses on the prairie

It is so expansive and beautiful here on the prairie. We have never really been in a true prairie environment so we are learning something new everyday on many levels; sometimes it relates directly to the restoration & conservation practices of The Nature Conservancy(TNC) and other times it relates to volunteer activities. We have been blessed to have Melissa & Johnnie (M&J) as our guides & mentors in our new journey as environmental conservation volunteers. M&J have been volunteering with TNC all over the country. Their insights and guidance have been invaluable!! The following provides an overview of activities for the last few days:

 8/26- Monday we arrive to the "little houses on the prairie" otherwise TNC's Summer Camp

After scouting out are route to our new home on Saturday we made the executive decision to drive the trailer out on a very bumpy 2 track road. The average speed was 5 miles an hour for the 3 miles. We arrived all intact with the exception of 1 single screw from our ceiling fan- a miracle!

               The barn- believe it or not this barn is from the Sears catalog and still standing:)

 Here is the power shed- consist of our power supply - solar with a back up propane back up generator

                              This is the School House and Doc's House (M&J) live in Doc's House

                                                      Another view of Doc's House

The road back to the canyon behind us- a wonderful riparian habitat

Our "little house on the prairie"

M&J are there to greet us- they are charming and welcoming- they even cooked us a beautiful dinner:) Our morning consisted of the slow drive out from Enterprise. In the afternoon M&J(incredibly well organized and efficient) had a list of the volunteer activities to be accomplished with associated priorities.

8/27- Tuesday-After a great night's sleep- we did our yoga and breakfast routine. We met with M&J and continued review of projects in more detail along with maps. In the afternoon we all went to the Horn Lark Trail to post boundary signs, fix fences and check on aspen exclosures. Exclosures are wooden or wired fences built to keep cows, deer & elk out. TNC is trying restablish both Aspen groves and riparian trees such as Willows that were historically grazed to death (literally). It was a full 8 hour day! We are so lucky to have M&K to show us the ropes !!

8/28-Amazing lightning storm awakes us around 2 am. It was a primordial experience with continuos thunder and lighting for 2 hours! Luckily rain showers because we did hear later that there were 3 nearby lighting strikes that did start small fires that were extinguished by the rain. 

So we were up for the day:) We started with our usual yoga & breakfast and then a walk down the canyon where we are stationed. We have many Barn Swallows around the building with hungry babies to feed. We saw a family of song sparrows and spotted towhees along with a pair of rock wrens calling to us from the canyon walls above. We also had a few Vesper Sparrows and juvenile Chipping Sparrows hanging out together.

                                      Juvenile Say's Phoebe loves hanging around the Summer Camp

Say's Phoebe

                                       A pair of Rock Wrens were calling to us from above

An adult Spotted Towhee

Juvenile Spotted Towhee

Juvenile Chipping Sparrow

Our TNC activities started out with a meeting with our TNC contact, Justin (who reminds us of Seth Bullock from the TV show Deadwood). Our volunteer mates, Melissa & Johnnie think Bob looks like the character that plays Batman:) We have the beginnings of a Hollywood studio going on here. 

After the meeting we all went to focus on tasks at hand: Melissa is filling woodpecker / starling holes in the side of one of the old buildings. Bob & Johnnie went to work building a skid to help the guys load and unload their fire truck with their firefighting equipment. I used my energy background and performed an inventory of electrical load for each building to feed into an analysis the is going to make sure the solar/back up generator are sized properly.

Melissa working on a patio area

Johnnie & Bob putting the skid together

The devil is in the details

Finished product!

This morning we hiked Patti's trail- beautiful prairie and riparian area. This must be amazing in the spring and early summer with wild flowers.

We are having a blast! The days are packed and we are sleeping like babies. 


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