Along the Natchez Trace

Friday, July 4, 2014

A Typical Day....

Yesterday was a typical day for me....  much of what I do is fairly routine and I do the some of the same jobs every week.  Mowing and trail maintenance is my main "duty" this summer and as I've written in the past, it's what I dearly love to do.  

What day I mow is dependent on the weather...  yesterday I wanted to do some trail maintenance...  lopping and pruning...  before mowing but I wondered if I'd get out on the trails at all....
The sky at 4:45 AM
Lots of fog...  the sun is barely able to break through...
But it turned out to be a beautiful day, just a lot of mosquitoes and deer flies.

On my way to Chapman Lake, where the trails need the most work, I saw this cow moose having breakfast just beyond one of the beaver ponds...
She checked me out, but kept right on with her meal...
That cone-shaped thing in the upper left is a predator guard that's attached to the post of a wood duck nesting box.  As it happened, this year a family of hooded merganzers claimed occupancy.

My means of transportation is a John Deere "Gator".  A six wheel, 4 wheel drive off-road vehicle that has a small dump-bed.  I can carry my loppers, bow saw, pruners and about anything else I might need.  It's also handy to stash any litter I find on the trails.

I arrived at my first trail before 6:30 am.  Within minutes I was soaked to the skin.  We'd had some rain during the night and all the foliage was heavy with dew or rain.  The good part of this was that it really emphasized what needed cut back.... whether it be alongside the trail or overhead.  My loppers are about 3' long, so I can stand in the bed of the Gator and reach pretty high, cutting off any branches I think are too low.

It's pretty slow work...  especially the way I do it...
Look!  The elderberries are getting ripe!  Not the purple elderberries that I'm familiar with in Ohio, but a bright red species.  I'm sure the bears and the birds and probably raccoons and a few other critters love these.

Dainty little "Pyrola"
Kind of looks like a pink Lily of the Valley.  I came across several patches along the trails.

 And look at the contrast of colors between the Orange Hawkweed and the green spruce!
There's lots of wildflowers in bloom now and the orange and yellow hawkweed are just a couple.  I love seeing the flowers all growing together...  a profusion of color!

When the trails run through the woods I don't have a lot of pruning to do...  mostly it's just cleaning up branches or other debris that gets blown or drops onto the path.  But I always have to check out what's around.  Sometimes I come across a "kitchen midden"...  that's where a critter (often a squirrel) has hung out and had their meals, dropping the shells, hulls or other leftovers on the ground.  Here I see lichen, moss, a shelf fungi, and other woodland things.

One trail leads past a pond where I've been seeing this American Bittern...
I hope to get him in his "high alert" pose...  looks like another stalk of cattail or something.  
They are kind of reclusive, so I'm happy to get whatever I can.

I really do manage to get some work done while I'm out on the trails...
A "Before and After" shot...
Not exactly showing my work at its best, but the trail is now wide enough that it's "two passes wide" with the mower.  These are all walking/hiking trails...  no motorized vehicles permitted.   I worked over 4 hours before heading back to the main part of the refuge.

This big guy was in the path ahead of me...
He ran off into the woods...  
Looking at the photo when I got home, I had to laugh when I saw the daisies....  I don't think I could ever take a photo like this on purpose!

Back on my home turf, I stopped by to see how Bill was coming along on the new road...
Moving right along.....
I'll be doing a blog soon about that road...  it always amazes me how Bill and the others maneuver those huge pieces of equipment around.  

With my 5 hour morning work done, I still had 5 hours of afternoon work ahead of me.  We have Spotted Knapweed, an invasive species here and I spent a couple of hours or so locating it...  spraying or pulling it up.  

The day goes by fast.  At the end of the day I usually feel like I've accomplished something, but even better...  I've had fun doing it.

That's All For Today!


  1. Living in the national park, as I do, I know how much volunteer work is required to keep the trails in order. So many different sorts of groups use them they muster the manpower to get out and improve the "road" for runners, for walkers, for bicycles. I pass so many different kinds of "organization registration" signs at the entrance to the shelter chosen to gather. Many kinds of work done.

  2. That is very satisfying to be productive and see the results.

  3. Your "work" probably doesn't seem like work to you, does it?

  4. I can't help but admire you! You love what you do that's for sure!!

  5. Your trail looks very nice...what a difference widening and pruning the over growth makes. I just love the wildflowers and all their beautiful colors. I will admit those daisies had me for a you couldn't do that again if you tried. Quite funny actually!!!

  6. I think either job would be right up my alley. If it involves some sort of machinery and maybe a cutting tool?


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  8. Whew. All that work. I'm exhausted. Time for a siesta.

    I love the photos. What a paradise... except for the mosquitoes and deer flies!