The last few months it has been painful to look out across the landscape. There was no green grass all summer, there was no rain, there was no grass growth. I usually enjoy riding through the pastures and monitoring the range plants. From the saddle I can look down and see which plants the cattle are eating, how much forage is left behind and how much each type of grass has grown from week to week. This summer there was no joy in looking down into the grass when riding. The only change was the slow browning and crumbling of the crisp grasses under the horses hooves.
I rode to the mailbox yesterday, and greatly appreciated the colors of fall across the prairie, even if the background of grass is short and virtually non-existent.
We did receive just enough raindrops a couple of weeks ago to allow the cheat grass to sprout under the trees. It is comforting to see a cast of green under the trees. The horses have been nipping at it in the afternoons. It is light, thin and fluffy and will only last a few more days until a freeze comes. Dispite its briefness and near uselessness as forage, it does lighten the heart during the middle of a relentless drought.
The lack of cover and growth does help a few things show up. The buffalo gourds did well through the drought. Is see them only as a temporarly decoration, but the native Indians to the area would have seen them as a valuable food source, especially in a drought. The few seeds inside would have been ground for flour, which they would have been thankful for.
The hedge apples have nearly all fallen out of the trees and can be seen everywhere on the ground. Notice the trail on the back side of the tree. This is a trail used by deer. It has been beaten down quite a bit this summer and fall as the wildlife have been seen out in the daytime as well as the nighttime searching for something to eat.
Tomorrow I think I will take my bicycle out and enjoy the uplift of the autumn colors while they last.