Prairie explorations

June 21, 2010

Cat-claw Mimosa


E. and I ventured back into the Flint Hills last week, as part of the 18th Annual Flint Hills Prairie Wildflower and Pasture tour. More  than five buses of photographers and nature lovers were lucky enough to explore private hay meadows and native prairie. The wildflowers were in full bloom, not as a cascade, but a wonderful peek-a-boo of color and shape.  

We headed out from Cassoday (population: 130), which E. was delighted to find out is the “prairie chicken capital of the world.” Extension and Conservation experts walked us up and down the meadow, naming every bloom, grass and seed pod.  We ended up on a majestic open range near Matfield Green (population: 60). In the Flint Hills, one ranch may consist of hundreds if not thousands of acres. It’s not feasible to fence such an expanse, so cattle roam freely, sometimes across county roads. Guards built into the roads keep cattle from wandering off the ranch. It felt like a prairie safari as we came upon a surprised cattle herd.  

It was a beautiful evening and E. got some great shots for the county fair. I was sorry to leave, but will definitely be back. I can’t get enough of those rolling hills.   

(Thanks Butler County and Chase County Extensions and Conservation Districts.)  

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