Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Grouse Herding, Tar Weed Control or What I Did all Summer

I have been missing for most of the summer on this blog.  So now is the time to catch up!

Since I'm now retired I decided I need to do more to help out on the ol' homestead.   I first attacked the tar weed this fall.  It's a noxious weed that grows here and the buds and flowers are covered in a sticky sap.  It gets in the forelocks, fetlocks in the horses and covers our dogs at times.  I HATE it.

So I spent a lot of my time pushing the DR mower/trimmer.  I must say it was great exercise but I did get  most of it cut this fall.
Tar weed
I mowed it anywhere I found it growing on the pasture around the house and then moved back about three feet along the lane to the highway on each side.   I feel like I mowed 3 acres of this stuff!

While I got it cut this fall, it comes back quickly.  I think this stuff could survive a direct hit from a nuclear bomb.  So come spring, I need to put weed killer on it.   After mowing I know where it lives!
The stems are really wire like and I had to frequently change the string in the mower as it would just obliterate it in a short time!   Tough stuff I tell you.

The really great thing that happened this summer was the sage grouse came back!  They used to raise a brood of chicks on our place every summer.  In fact I used to have to stop the car on the way out to the highway and chase the chicks off the road sometimes so I could get to work!  They have not done that now for many years disappearing shortly after West Nile hit Wyoming.   I think it decimated their numbers.
Sage Grouse Hens
The species here is the Greater Sage Grouse.  There are several sub-species and grouse is found all throughout the Rocky Mountain West to the Sierra Nevadas.

We discovered a hen and several chicks on the highway coming home one evening.  So Hubby did some grouse herding and got them OFF that highway fearing they would get hit.
Hubby grouse herding!

The hen and several of the chicks headed off the highway towards the back of the pasture!

They must have gotten the message as they did not go back to the highway again and stayed back near the barns all summer.   One day towards fall, Hubby was working in his shop area and heard a male 'booming' which meant it was breeding season for them.  They use the same area for generations and the areas are called 'leks'.  Since they are an endangered species, the government and State of Wyoming controls these areas and allows no disturbances by mining activites around the leks.  We never knew we had one near us.  Hubby did not disturb and we saw them only a few more times in the summer after herding them off the highway.

Photo of an active Lek with male birds 'booming' their chests to attract females.

We did have an active hawk that prowled around after they arrived and one day a Bald Eagle was obviously hunting/swooping the area.  I hope they found good cover and not too many of the chicks were lost.  They were pretty good size when they arrived so hopefully they all survived.   We hope they return again next summer!

I did some container gardening using an old 350 gallon leaky stock tank, five gallon buckets, and two old cattle mineral tubs which are about 30 gallons.  It was a learning curve.  Next year I will do some things different in the stock tank.  All I harvested out of it was lettuce and swiss chard which I had planted wayyyy too close.  The tomatoes in the five gallon buckets did okay but I need to get them out earlier.  The mineral tubs - strawberries did fine in one.  We will see if they survive the winter.  Cucumbers did not like theirs too well.  I think it needs more potting soil to bring the level of the dirt up to the rim so they are not shaded.  Some successes and some failures.   I now have apple seeds in the five gallon buckets to see if they come up after the required stratification over the winter.

I'll post more in a few days...............

Hope your summer went well also.


  1. I'm not familiar with the Tar Weed---thank goodness. As a kid in New Mexico, I can remember walking the mountain pastures with my grandmother, pulling out Loco Weed so the horses wouldn't eat it.

  2. Hurray for the Sage Grouse---and then the predators arrive. Dang. Yeah, I know, I know. Glad to see you back blogging.