St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Thursday, May 10, 2012


I am working on the fenceline between me and my neighbor.  He has cattle in his pasture, so both of us are required to fix our fence.  I spent a few hours cutting out brush and dead trees, and other junk that has grown up since the last time --45 years ago or so when we put the fence in.  

Along with the brush, the deep shade has jack-in-the pulpits, bloodroots (finished blooming but big leaves), blue and yellow violets, nodding trillium, spring beauties, and some others I can't remember the name.

The cabin yard is brilliant yellow with dandelions that open in the morning and are covered with butterflies and bees, then close in the afternoon.  I can't stand to mow them when they are so pretty, so wait until they are closed.  If you keep mowing them, they keep having new yellow heads--they are trying to go to seed, and will persist until they have made it.  The most tangled looking lawn is when you mow them after they have gone to seed, and the big spindly stems don't get cut off, but just bend this way and that, and then stand back up showing off that they missed the blades.

We have a lot of red admiral butterflies, some sulfurs and whites, many of the yellow ones that look like a monarch , and a few monarchs.  I noticed some milkweed, the plant monarchs depend on, are up a few inches.

The tent caterpillars are very thick this year.  They seem to have taken over the wild cherry trees and have eaten all the leaves off of some of them.  I watched a nest in the early morning as it warmed up and they came out and headed out along the branches for leaves.   There are big ones and little ones all together.  Although they look like they kill the tree, they are finished with their eating quite soon and the tree, usually a black cherry,  comes back fine after they move to moth stage.  You can read all about them at Tent Catepillars

I noticed a wonderful fragrance in the woods.  I looked around and the thorn apples are just beginning to bloom.  They are late to leaf out, late to bloom, and early to fruit and lose their leaves.  I think they must be adapted to live another 1000 miles north.  Tent caterpillars seem to leave them alone.  They have very small red apples in the fall, smaller than a marble.  The deer, birds and even bears like the berries.  I have two in my cabin driveway.  They never grow very tall--mabye 30 feet or so, and are a nice ornamental tree. You have to trim off the lower branches as they have inch long sharp thorns that can really do damage if you get poked while lawn mowing under them.

I didn't really get much of the fence line trimmed out.  I killed the engine on the Ford 2n and found the battery was dead.  I walked back and brought the Cub Cadet and jumped it, then drove the Cub back (1/2 mile) and walked back again.  While I was there I dug some of the wild flowers that are in the fenceline where I will probably take the Cletrac dozer and push it clean to make fencing easy.  Of course, that assumes  I put the gas tank back on and can get it running after 5 years resting in the shed.  At least it doesn't have any flat tires!