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.
This 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.
A wall of garlic mustard at the Ottawa Lake Fen SNA
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.
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.
Morels are magical to me.
No, I did not pick any.
I hope someone else will find delight in them as I did.
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.
There 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.
Views of the fen
The “Big Tree” at the Ottawa Lake Fen SNA
The boardwalk raising project we did last fall is looking good.
The Scuppernong River
Garlic mustard free zone
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…
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 19, 2012, Tracy Hames, Sophia, Constance Kilkenny, Lindsay Knudsvig, Paul Mozina and Pati Holman
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.
The 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
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!
Hmmm, looks like might as well stop here.
Plenty of buckthorn to cut and some mighty nice oaks.
We made a couple of brush piles and lit them up
There was plenty of buckthorn nearby to add to the flames.
We opened a huge swath between the farm field and the channel at the base of the railroad bed.
I 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!
Did I say steep hillsides?
UW Whitewater Ecology Club
Jared explaining the plan for the day
It was darn cold but pretty soon the guys were working in just their long shirts
There are some mighty nice oaks down there, we’ll get to them next time.
This is the knoll I mentioned right near Hwy P
DNR Conservation Biologist, Sam Smyrk, cut buckthorn up on that steep slope
Looking up at the knoll
looking down the drainage
Scott Farrell worked with me until almost 4:00pm and he said I needed to climb to the top of the ridge and check it out.
Thanks for the advice Scott!
Zach Kastern spent the day at prescribed fire school and he joined me by the fire later…
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.
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.
Here are a couple examples of how thick the buckthorn was becoming.
“Coach” Kevin, Marlin and Rachel
A dense thicket of buckthorn on either side of the trail.
DNR Special Teams Players Mike Spaight and Don Dane
Conditions were perfect for forestry mowing.
Mike and Don scoping out the terrain
Finishing prep on the mowing head
Mike gets after it!
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.
The view from the trailhead
Recall the picture of Kevin, Marlin and Rachel above, this is what the background looks like now.
Looking back east at the south side of the Village land.
The pictures were taken walking from east to west
The amount of buckthorn they cut and the area they covered is phenomenal
This is the second biggest oak at The Marsh and it was surrounded by a wall of 8′ tall buckthorn
This is the far western extent of the mowed area
Turning back and walking east now
The view of the Village land just to the west of the detention pond
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.
The northeast edge of the Ottawa Lake Fen SNA at the property line with the Skydance Pet Lodge
We lit 5 old piles and made three new ones.
I think one or two more days work here and we will have totatly opened up the view
Andy stokes the flames
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
A gorgeous morning at the old Parker Brothers Homestead site
The views of the target work area
I feel priviledged to be the caretaker/steward, along with Pati Holman, of this beautiful property.
A spring flowing into the Bark River
I hope to see the creation of the Bark River Water Trail, per the Village of Hartland Comprehensive Development Plan: 2035, recommendation
Views from the homestead site
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!
Lindsay, just came off working 4 night shifts in a row! Here he preps the first pile.
Before image of a huge red oak.
Here is that red oak again.
A couple of other oaks we opened up.
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.