The Curse of Garlic Mustard

The Curse of Garlic Mustard

Once you know a thing, there is no unknowing it.  Unfortunately for me, I became aware of the negative impact of garlic mustard, and around this time of year I feel compelled to try to stop it’s spread.  I wish I had more time to garden in our woods and wetlands!

After all these years pulling and cutting garlic mustard, you’d think I might be an expert on it, but I just learned from my good friend, Lindsay Knudsvig, that the seeds of garlic mustard form in what are called siliques.

1330040This is empowering information as I was previously focused only on the flowering garlic mustard i.e., preventing the flowers from maturing by cutting or pulling the plants.  Now, my garlic mustard fighting season will continue so long as I can locate and collect the siliques.

I recently spent three days pulling and mowing at the Ottawa Lake Fen SNA.  Check out this gallery of garlic mustard horrors.

I’m not using any herbicide on the garlic mustard and actually seeing very positive results just cutting and pulling.  Hand pulling is definitely the best way to go when the garlic mustard is nestled in among native plants.  I pulled the garlic mustard from the area around the Scuppernong Spring.IMG_8636

In the areas where it is carpeting the ground, like shown above, mowing is great option.  Either way, eradicating invasive plants is a wonderful way to spend time in nature.  Check out these morels I stumbled upon while pulling garlic mustard at the Hartland Marsh.

Last Saturday I was joined by Arrowhead High School Instructor Greg Bisbee, and a group of young people from the school, along with Marsha and Jeff from The Friends of the Hartland Marsh, for a garlic mustard pulling party.  We worked along the hillside at the Cottonwood Gazebo and north, across the village corn field, on the Waukesha County Land Conservancy property.

IMG_2239IMG_2242IMG_2244There is a long way to go in the battle against garlic mustard!

I spent a wonderful week camping at site #335, my favorite spot at the Ottawa Lake Campground.  Thanks to Jim, Bob and Mark for stopping by to play some guitar and enjoy the campfire.

We have been pulling spotted knapweed and cutting out brush from the lupine fields on the west slope of the sand prairie for 3-4 years now.  Nature is responding and in a few years the whole hillside will be covered with lupine!

I’m a point and shoot photographer and hope someday to learn how to use my camera.  Until then…

See you at The Springs!

The Kilkenny Family Project

The Kilkenny Family Project

The Buckthorn Man has finally landed his first cash paying client!  I’ve been giving it away for the last 16 years, volunteering everywhere I worked out of pure love for the land.  But since I launched this new website last November, I have been offering my buckthorn cutting services for hire.  My new bosses are none other than Lindsay Knudsvig, Constance Kilkenny and her son, Joe Winn.

August 21, 2012, Tracy Hames, Sophia, Constance Kilkenny, Lindsay Knudsvig, The Buckthorn Man, Pati Holman

August 19, 2012, Tracy Hames, Sophia, Constance Kilkenny, Lindsay Knudsvig, Paul Mozina and Pati Holman

Joe Winn and Lindsay Knudsvig on a lunch break

Joe Winn and Lindsay Knudsvig on a lunch break at The Springs

Lindsay and Connie have been working on “the farm” for many years now and since Joe joined the effort, the action has really heated up.  Joe applied for a grant for the Kilkenny Family Project from the Wisconsin forest landowner grant program (WFLGP) and it looks like the funding will become available in August.  The farm is a 70 acre spread near Delavan, Wisconsin that features Turtle Creek, aka Swan Creek winding right through the middle of it.

KilkennyFarmGoogleMapThe restoration efforts began near the homestead, which you can see in the lower left of the picture above (and also below), and they have progressed over the last 4-5 years along the old horse trail between the south edge of the farm field and the railroad line.   This past fall they turned the corner north to work along the tree line between the farm field and Swan Creek.

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home


The view of the southwest corner of the property

I’m trying to create something different with this website: make it a place were people can share and focus their volunteer efforts and also support me financially — so that I can continue to give it away.   I invite you to check out my About page for a description of all the features on this site.  The latest addition is the Kilkenny Family Project page, which we will use to document the history of their restoration effort.

On February 11, Lindsay, Joe and I loaded up the trailer and headed down the horse trail for the tree line on the east side of the farm field.  Drifting snow and previously cut buckthorn eventually blocked our path and we decided to unload the gear and get to work right there.

My favorite part about working at the Kilkenny Family Project is relaxing afterwards with a cold beer near the fire in their cozy kitchen and savoring a plate of Lindsay’s special recipe beans and rice!

It has been a real pleasure to share my passion for the land with other like-minded volunteers.  On February 6, I was joined by Andy Buchta, Lindsay Knudsvig, Chris Mann, Steve Brasch, and Ben and Karen Johnson at the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail.  We continued clearing the left side of the trail between signposts #1 and #2 and achieved amazing results!

On February 12, I joined the Southern Kettle Moraine SNA volunteers at the White Water Oak Opening, which is part of the Clifford Messinger Dry Prairie & Savanna Preserve State Natural Area.  We cut, poisoned, piled and burned our arch enemy — buckthorn — while working on a knoll and deep drainage at the base of a steep moraine near Hwy P (you can see it on the topo map below).

map230cI grabbed this video of the UW Whitewater Ecology Club volunteers heating things up.

Jared Urban, with the DNR’s Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation, has been building momentum for the State Natural Areas volunteer program for 4 years now. He will be closing the deal any day now on a trailer loaded with brand new equipment for the Southern Kettle Moraine SNA volunteers.  Way to go Jared!

Well, I’ve been busy and having a lot of fun. I hope you will come out and join us when you can, and make a donation to The Buckthorn Man if you want to show your support for what I’m doing.

See you at The Springs!

Wisconsin DNR: Super Mow Champs

Wisconsin DNR: Super Mow Champs

Time was running out at The Marsh.  Since I punted back in 2011, the Buckthorn’s offense had rallied back to take the lead and we were stymied by their impenetrable defense.  Ice Age Trail Alliance coach, Kevin Thusius, got the call from the booth: offensive coordinator, Village Administrator Dave Cox, said the only hope to save The Buckthorn Man’s efforts was a “Hail Mary” pass.  Kevin looked to the bench for the DNR’s special teams players Don Dane and Mike Spaight, who hadn’t seen action in the game since last March.

Don, the wily veteran, called timeout.  He suggested we rent an ASV machine, mount a DNR forestry mower head on it, and then throw it to Mike, waiting upland in the end zone.

As the last seconds ticked off the clock, I snapped the ball to Don and blocked the rushing buckthorn, holding them off just long enough for him to get the pass in the air.  Mike, surrounded by a thorny thicket, caught the ball and mowed the defenders down as he cleared a path into the end zone.


Here is a look at the field before the big play.  Note that you can open the gallery and see the pictures full-size by clicking on any of them, or, you can hover your mouse over a picture to read the narrative in the description.

I was working at the Scuppernong Springs this past Monday when Don called to say that he had lined up the ASV machine and they would be ready to start the next day.  We had just enough funds left in the kitty, contributed by the Village of Hartland, and we had made the decision that its best use would be forestry mowing; that was a good call, as you can see by the amazing and outstanding work that Don and Mike accomplished.  But our dance in the end zone will be merely a gaudy display if we don’t get more funding to treat the cut stubs.  We are debating whether to do a basal bark treatment before they get covered with snow, Don’s recommendation, or, wait until the cut stumps bush out in the late spring to treat them with foliar herbicide spray.  In either case, we don’t have any money right now.   We’ll get flagged with a penalty, and the touchdown will be called back, if we don’t come up with something.  Here is a map showing the area they mowed in blue, followed by an “after” gallery displaying the results.


Long time followers of The Buckthorn Man were probably stunned when they read this statement at the bottom of the presentation I made to the Village of Hartland Board on January 25:

The preservation, restoration and protection of the primary environmental corridor in the Village of Hartland is too vitally important to leave in the hands of ad hoc groups of volunteers, especially when considering that the Village is one of the primary land owners in the corridor.

Yup, this is coming from the same pen that wrote a post called Freedom that includes this gem:

Our Political “law” is nothing but the arbitrary WILL OF MEN and WOMEN. Government exists to direct and control our minds; the “State” is a figment of our collective imaginations.

On one hand, I’m challenging the legitimacy of the government’s claim of “authority”, and on the other, I’m asking the Village of Hartland — the powers that be, who “speak the law (exert jurisdiction)”, in these parts — to step up and take leadership.  You can rightly question the sanity of The Buckthorn Man: is he schizophrenic, or just pragmatic?

I’m still trying to sort out the meaning of Village Board President David Lamerand’s response to my presentation and I have confidence that the Village will act in good faith to address the concerns I have raised.  You can listen to an audio of my presentation to the Village Board on January 25, here, beginning at the 5:55 mark.  Thanks to the Village Clerk, Darlene Igl, for providing the audio.

It has been an exceptionally benign winter so far, perfect in every way for cutting and burning buckthorn in the forest.  On Thursday, January 28, I was joined at the Ottawa Lake Fen SNA by Andy Buchta and Ben Johnson.  We had a flawless day continuing to open up the views to Ottawa Lake from Hwy 67 and the SkyDance Pet Lodge parking lot.

On Friday, January 29, I was joined by a new volunteer, Jeff Saatkamp, a member of the Ice Age Trail Alliance at the Hartland Marsh.  I brush cut buckthorn saplings on the Waukesha County Land Conservancy property and Jeff and I poisoned the cut stubs.  Thanks Jeff!  I’m looking forward to working with you again at The Marsh.   As a bonus, Cheryl White the new executive director of the Waukesha County Land Conservancy, stopped out to visit and we had a marvelous time exploring the property.  Cheryl brings a wealth of experience and skill to the job and I’m looking forward to working with her

On Monday, February 1, I was joined at the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail by Andy Buchta and Lindsay Knudsvig in the morning, and Ben Johnson later in the day.  Thank you all for volunteering your time and energy to restoring our Kettle Moraine treasure!

Later that evening, around 6:30pm, as Ben and I were tending the fires, I happened to be looking to the east through spreading oak branches at Orion’s belt in the sky.  Just then a bright light emerged and I called out to Ben, “Look!” and we both watched the meteor expand into a huge white ball before it disappeared at the horizon.

I’m looking forward to joining my friends at another State Natural Area Workday at the Whitewater Oak Opening on February 13.

See you at The Springs!