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Posts Tagged ‘prairie’

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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