Our neighbor Paul has restored native prairie to most of the 90 acres he owns - land which once was part of our farm. He has enrolled it in a conservation program and enjoys it for the abundant wildlife - deer, pheasant and coyotes (well, actually he is a hunter and doesn't truly appreciate the coyotes.) The prairie is beautiful and I appreciate that my bees can gather nectar and pollen from native prairie flowers. You can see one on my bees (yes, I am certain it is one of my bees!) near the upper left coneflower in this photo.
The prairie is dotted with echinacea (purple coneflower), a favored wildflower for monarch butterflies. In about a month, there will be monarchs galore gathering in our woods and feasting in Paul's prairie, staging for the big migration to Mexico for the winter.
Our little piece of prairie does not have purple coneflowers --yet. This year I intend to collect a few of the coneflower seeds (with Paul's permission) and scatter in our prairie. I hope it will be as successful as scattering yellow coneflower seeds was last year.
About 60 acres of Paul's land now looks like this! It is considerable work and expense to maintain the prairie with regular burning. Thank you, Paul.
In September 2008, we dived into our dream of creating a small, sustainable farm. Neither of us has previous farming experience, but we have enthusiasm and many ideas for this little 10-acre farmstead.