The First Spring:
Late March-Early April: view from the gate, northwest past secondary
drainage to low knoll and dry woods (on right horizon) and creek woods (on left horizon.)
Grass in the foreground--the cool season grasses such as rescue grass and speargrass;
bluebonnets are sprinkled across this area. Before the first line of trees, the change in
color is the swale (draining right to left). The first line of trees is in the old
ditch-diversion; it and the swale meet off the picture left at a bad eroded gulch on the south
Midpoint of the gully system west of the creek. This linear system
suffers creep and slump on both sides, worst on the west bank (across the water from here); the
soil holds water, becomes saturated, then fails abruptly. These gullys are steep-sided. Given
the amount of soil already lost here, we're considering scooping out the length, piling all that up
on the far end, and calling it a stock tank. Ducks would like it. Down in these gullies,
when they were dry in the summer of 2000, the Eustoma grandiflorum (Texas bluebells--actually a
gentian) were in quantity.
A little later in the spring--woods near the
creek leafing out. The open clearing visible here is the result of large tree loss in a storm
a few years ago. We've planted acorns in there. The nearest trees are cedar elm,
hackberry, and osage orange or bois d'arc. Most of the trees in this area are elms; osage
orange is the next most numerous, followed by hackberries. The ratio differs markedly in different
areas of the woods. The tallest trees (maybe 50 yards away) are over 50' tall.
Early spring, trees leafing out.
This section of the creek lies between the gravel ford and the deer ford. The near
bank is gravel over a rock ledge; downstream (away from the viewer) the creek enters the main
Between the knoll with its
dry woods and the creek...a small yucca blooms right out of the grass, along with bluebonnets.
Trees in the background, on the edge of the dry woods, are live oak and cedar elm.
The main ford across the
creek--where the cattle always went, so it's well chewed up by their hooves. This amount of
water is "high-normal" --the creek is within its banks everywhere, but flowing well, and clear.
At low flow, this ford's gravel bottom is mostly out of the water. Across it is the
shortest route to the west juniper-grass meadow.
Basketflower is one of our taller wildflowers (4' plus), and filled the
"entrance meadow" to the woods this spring. We had a few elsewhere, but most were
concentrated in this area, where the understory layer was a mix of black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckias)
and gaillardia. Although they look like thistles, they aren't thorny.
On Memorial Day weekend, while working along the south fenceline near the
swamp: this is the kind of tangled mess in the swamp woods. Privet has invaded, along with
many native understory plants such as roughleaf dogwood. The heavy limb angling along the top
corner is a black willow, part of which has broken off in a storm. The black willows were
some of the largest trees in this woods, but suffered severe damage in several ice storms and
windstorms. Only a couple of the big ones are left. Just to the right (off picture) is
our mystery tree, which keys out to be either a black gum or an eastern persimmon. If it
fruits, then we'll know.
Memorial Day weekend--the swamp at its best. At this point it had not
rained for several weeks, and the creek was drying up, but a clear trickle ran out the end of the
swamp. Trees near here are black willow, cedar elm, hackberry, sugarberry, roughleaf dogwood,
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