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Posts Tagged ‘prairie’

Like Old Mother Hubbard, I had nothing in my cupboard. It was bare – and our barnyard was empty too.

I had a hankering for some fresh eggs and at the price of eggs today, well; it felt more frugal to get some chickens than drive to the store and buy a carton of eggs.

I missed having chickens.  There are so many things a person can do with eggs.  They were a staple in any kitchen.  It was a pity I was out.

If only I could get my hands on three or four layer chickens and perhaps a rooster… 

Hens lay eggs daily and if the rooster did his job perhaps one of the hens would go broody and hatch a few chicks. I smiled. It was a project worthy of dreaming about. Then again, why dream when one can make it a reality, it never costs anything to ask a question.  

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“Elk are powerful, adaptable animals that have played a significant role in cultural mythologies. Elk encounters are, for most people, rare,…

The elk represents dignity, power, inner strength, and passion. If you experience an elk sighting, it’s a message to stay steady on your current course. An elk sighting is also a reminder to be diligent and see things through. If you do, you will earn the respect of others for standing your ground. An elk sighting lets you know that because of hard work, you’re about to come into the life of plenty you’ve envisioned. This is a great reward for a job well done.” LJ Innes

Elk were introduced on a military base in Suffield, Alberta in 1997.  Since 1997, the population of the original elk herd has grown and so has the territory they now occupy in Alberta such as the prairie. My home on the prairie is just a few hours away from the Suffield base.  Elk can cross a lot of territory in a few minutes.  They have immense stamina; this coupled with their long-legged stride enables them to out distance predators with ease.

Elk encounters are, for most people, rare – so I count myself as a very fortunate part of the few who have encountered prairie elk.

The first time I saw elk on our property was mid-October, about 3 years ago, just after returning from a safari in Africa.  I have to admit, observing a herd of elk from the comfort of my own home was every bit as exciting as the safari!

The bull in charge of the herd was magnificent! He had the largest set of antlers I have ever seen! He was accompanied by about 30 cows and their calves.  It was bow hunting season so no doubt this herd, was fleeing the bow and arrow hunters.

The elk herd was tired when they arrived at our yard.  Some of the cows were limping and a few calves were exhausted. The bull let them rest and graze here for about half an hour before bugling then rounding them up and moving on.  It only took a few minutes for the entire herd to disappear into the horizon beyond my line of sight.  I imagine, they had successfully out distanced the bow hunter’s long before arriving here.

Normally, bulls and cows keep with their own sex.  It is only during the rut that bulls and cows intermingle.  We have had 5 or so nice looking bulls steadily visit us over the years but until last week we hadn’t seen the main herd again.

Until last week, that is.

It was at dusk and we counted about 30 cows.  See the pictures below:

I was so excited the elk were visiting that it was hard to hold my cell phone still enough to get a few pictures to share. 

Elk is wonderful species of wildlife that lives and breathes out here on the prairie. And, while they don’t visit often; I am always excited to see them. The next time they come through, though, I’m hoping to diligently count a few calves.

As a power animal, elk can remind us that we have enough stamina and strength to go the distance. We only need to pace ourselves and take time to rest along the way to achieve our goals.

 

Thank-you for following, reading, sharing and commenting – The Trefoil Muse

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“Who let the dogs out?”

The Sun let the dogs out!

Obviously, the Sun’s dogs needed out for a good run, perhaps they’d been penned up for too long of a stretch or maybe they just needed to get out and howl at the full moon last week.  Dogs can be very insistent when they want outside.  Madam Sun probably coined the term, ‘hounded!’  In which case, I am totally able to relate to her or even sympathize!

Dog Owner Beware!

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The horse and rider paused at the crest of the hill.

“Should we take the wagon trail home or cut through the coulee, Mari-bell?” Sarah asked unsure of her own mind.  If they took the wagon trail, it would take her another 5 miles to reach the ranch, an easy ride in good weather like it had been that morning but potentially deadly in the inclement weather which had suddenly appeared.  She wasn’t prepared for this.

It had been unusually mild weather for January, like a spring day – they called these warm winds Chinooks she’d been told. They were “snow eaters,” that lasted from hours to days.  Water had been dripping from the barn roof forming streamlets and pockets of water on her path to the barn.  She side-stepped numerous puddles on the way to retrieve her little golden mare with creamy mane and tail.  Mari-bell had nickered her usual soft greeting when Sarah opened the barn door.

She had loved Mari-bell from the first moment she’d laid eyes on her.   Her father had threatened to sell her at first.  “Too small for any of the ranch hands,” he’d said but Sarah rallied for the little palomino.  “The horse has a huge heart,” he’d admitted after seeing the girl and horse work cattle.  “She won’t quit until the job’s done and did everything and more that you asked of her Sarah!”  The girl and horse had an unnatural bond he figured after seeing how the two responded to one another. In the end, he relented and gave the mare to his daughter. It was a rarity not to see the horse and girl together now-a-days.

Mari-bell perked her ears forward and arched her neck over the edge of the stall as Sarah approached.  “Too warm for this thick woolen sweater Mother knit for me at Christmas that’s for sure Mari-bell,” Sarah crooned to the horse as she shed her jacket then removed the heavy sweater and hung it on the peg by the stall.  “A long sleeved shirt and jacket are all I’ll need today.”  She grinned as she pat the horse on the side of the neck, led her to the door of the barn, mounted and trotted away from the ranch toward the school.

How she wished she still had that sweater now! (more…)

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We have undergone seasonal changes on the prairie.  Snow finally fell to coat the land.  It was a welcomed sight.  The fall season has been mild this year – dry and windy without much moisture.  This has made life for the smaller prairie animals easier than in prior years as they are able to forage uninhibited by deep snow.

The jack rabbits have been extremely prolific.  There are dozens of them careening across the landscape camouflaged in their new winter apparel of white.  They move in large groups like snowballs with legs as they bound across the land imitating the whirling drifting swathes of snow.

Some of them like to race, zigging and zagging along the edge of the road at 35 mph.  They are flexible, their agility saving them more often than not from an untimely demise under vehicle tires. If they zig when they should zag, they become fodder for hungry scavengers happy for an easy meal.

The jack rabbits blend into the winter environment easily now that their coats have turned white.  It takes a keen set of eyes to spot them when they stand frozen and alert atop the snow covered horizon where they listen attentively for predators lying in wait for them.  Jack rabbits need to be aware of the dangers lurking about them.

Not all danger abounds on land.  Above, another creature has changed colors with the season.  It perches above proudly displaying its white plumage as its wise eyes scan the prairie to find a rabbit to bring home for lunch.

 

 

 

 

And so, the circle of life continues as the seasons change on the prairie.

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This golden flower is known as a buffalo bean, prairie bean, golden banner and prairie pea.  These flowers  bloom during 

late May or early June. The buffalo bean can be found in open sandy areas of the prairie and aspen forests where water tables are high. 

The golden bean flowers were once used as a cure for stomach disease and its roots used as a horse medicine.

Dye was made from the yellow flowers and used by the First Nations People to color arrows and skin bags.

Most importantly, the appearance of this golden pea-like flower was used as a form of phenology (study of nature) by the First Nations People because upon its arrival, the spring hunt for buffalo bulls could resume.

 

Warning:  The pea shaped pods of a buffalo bean should never be consumed as they are poisonous!

 

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Prairie Smoke

I don’t mind spotting this type of smoke on the prairie!

This little flower is called, ‘Prairie Smoke.’  Otherwise known as Geum triflorum, three flowered avens or old man’s whiskers.

The flowers on this perennial herbaceous plant bloom from mid-spring to early summer. 

They grow wild on the prairie but you can also purchase them from your local greenhouse and plant them as perennials in your flower garden.

Native Americans and early settlers once used the root from the Prairie Smoke to treat colic, fever, coughs and stomach ailments with tea made from its roots. 

It was even used in the treatment of Tuberculosis (TB) an infectious disease that affects the lungs and other parts of the body.  

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Antelope

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