Sunday, September 26, 2010

Combining at Bluestem Prairie, Glacial Ridge Project

For the past two weeks of work at Prairie Restorations Inc., I and a coworker of mine were fortunate enough to take a trip up to Crookston, and then Glyndon (near Fargo-Moorhead) for two weeks of harvesting prairie seeds for The Nature Conservancy. The seeds are harvested off of higher quality prairies, and once they are dried out they will be distributed to areas of the Glacial Ridge Project that need restoration.

The first week we harvested off of the Pankratz Preserve, and Jesse my co-worker/senior at Prairie Resto taught me how to use the old, rickety combines from the 1970s to harvest grass seeds. He also took some pictures of the event:

It was fun for awhile but it got old fast. I also got to do a lot of harvesting by hand, which is slower but more relaxed and meditative. Mostly it was nice to be in the big prairies again, even though they're not big compared to what they once were. My favorite wildlife sighting was at dusk (we put in loooong days--hooray overtime pay!): three owls, swooping around my hand nearly silently. Don't know what they were doing, but it was great to see them. There were also a lot of cool spiders--one was a dark mauve with white spots and one was yellow and black and HUGE. Thankfully I've become more comfortable around arachnids in the past couple of years--I even released a few smaller ones with my bare hands when they got into the truck. The old Kelsey would never do that.

Flower highlights for me were the fringed gentian:

and the lady's tresses:

among others.

I stayed in Fargo for the weekend with my cousin John, who was recently engaged to his long-time girlfriend from the Philipines. She makes awesome meals, lucky guy...and I was lucky to partake as well! And hang out with her two cute kids. We watched the movie "Elf" which in my opinion never gets old.

The second week we were in Glyndon, near Moorhead and home to Bluestem Prairie SNA where I worked for the summer of 2008. Nice to have things come around full circle. I'll probably keep going back there over the years. For that week I mostly harvested seed by hand, and watched with mixed feelings as two combines got severely buried in the mud on the same day. They worked on getting them out all day but with no success until the next morning when they took the front part (with the thresher and the blades) off and then pulled it out with two tractors. To be honest, I also got my combine stuck the week before--but they pulled it out the same day. Jesse made me feel better by insisting that it was the guy from the area who we were working with's fault because he led me to a risky (read: really wet) area and made me stop so he could get out of his combine, run over and explain to me where we were going to go next, and then when I tried to move again I had sunk in and the spinning wheels buried me deeper. Oh well--it was a good lesson learned, I hope!

Next week I'm back at our office in Scandia. Should be a good week, but not much compares to the big prairies...


  1. Nice post, Kels. Working the land must be in your DNA.

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