Signs of the Season Series: Part 2 on Land Management
By David Touchon
This fall has graced us with the rain we’ve been waiting for all summer. As we prepare for colder months, we’ll help you prepare your lawns and lands in this two-part series. Part 1 of the series touched on lighting, wood piles, dormancy, and raking, which are essential for every season.
At the Cibolo Center for Conservation, our goal is to stay one step ahead of the seasons, and with five fragile ecosystems to maintain, that is no easy feat. The activities listed below are tricks of the trade and lessons learned from our over 34 years of caring for this community’s land, water, and wildlife.
- Water Down: As cooler temperatures become more common, keep an eye on the overnight lows and adjust your programmed schedule. Use caution when turning your system off for a longer than the average duration; a dry line can create a “water hammer” that leads to problems. Watch the weather and let nature provide what is needed.
- Local Fauna: Check your eaves and small areas for woodland creatures that have decided to den up for the cold spell. Install tree cages around smaller trees to protect them from overzealous buck whitetails. Please take a moment to appreciate the woodland creatures as they gather all the resources they need for a short season of torpidity. The whitetails will lose the reddish summer coat and replace it with a more insulated woodland grey coat. Watch your speed along the Hill Country roads for the next three weeks since the whitetail rut will be in full swing! If you see a group of does along the highway or field, slow down because there is a buck with one thing on his mind.
- Garden: The survivors of the summer garden should be doing well and putting on some significant growth! Treat them well with the last push into fall, and they will yield the bounty of patience. Canning some Jalapeno jelly for the upcoming holiday season is a time-honored Thanksgiving tradition! Start planning for the spring; what worked well? What will you never try again? Hold some potatoes in a brown bag and prep them for planting in Mid-February. There is nothing like digging potatoes around Memorial Day! Rest and replenishment are the objectives.
- Soil Conservation: Native plants had a tough summer, and the field/road margins look thin. Take some time to identify those areas that might “wash” with a rain event and get busy! Adding limbs, leaves, rocks, and a small brush to low-lying areas can “check” the downslope speed of water and aid soil deposition. The goal is to keep the dirt on the land, not the creek. Set aside a small piece of land where you can slow down water speed so the absorption, percolation, and onsite accumulation can occur. Over time the low-lying areas will level out and become wild areas of regrowth and diversity.
- Spend “Quality” time in Nature: Good land maintenance is continuous and consistent, but nowhere does it say that your time on the land must be all business. With all the hours you’ve logged making mother nature look beautiful and fecund -You deserve quality time basking or bathing/taking in nature and all its glory. Land Management is a full-time commitment that repays you with peaceful days of bliss. Take it all in.