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Prairie Notes are monthly photo/journal observations from Tandy Hills Natural Area by Founder/Director, Don Young. They include field reports, flora and fauna sightings, and more, mixed with a scoop of dry humor and a bit of philosophy. They are available free to all who get on the FOTHNA email list.

September 17

Prairie Notes #105
September 1, 2015

1) September 17 
2) Field Report - August
3) Armadillo's on the Prairie
4) Pollinators Love Thistle
5) Flashback 2010: Creek Plum Romance
6) Patagonia Prairie
7) Prairie Proverb


1) September 17

Remember this image from our 2014 North Texas Giving Day fundraising campaign

It was a celebrity-filled wonder! Dorothy and 30 others testified to the importance of Tandy Hills and our stewardship programs. The whimisical campaign helped inspire donations from people like you totalling more than $3,600 for our outdoor education and restoration programs.

We are back with a new 30-day campaign for 2015. Our objective: to brighten your day in the manner in which you are accustomed with inspiring Prairie Proverbs paired with sexy pictures of Tandy Hills, delivered via Facebook each and every morning between August 17 and North Texas Giving Day, September 17.

Your donations on September 17, 2015 will help us enact and expand our programs. Here are the four EZ steps to remember:

Donations of $25. and up will be multiplied with bonus funds for Friends of Tandy Hills. All you have to do is enjoy the proverbs and pics and mark September 17 your calendar. Keep up with the daily campaign at the website:

...or on Facebook, here:
And now a message from our campaign kickoff spokesman, Mr…Ernest…Tubb, ladies and gentlemen !!!!!!

2) Field Report - August

It's been nearly 60 days since rain fell on Tandy Hills, and it shows. The prairie is a study in various shades of brown with deep cracks in the soil and precious few blooming widflowers. The tall grasses which looked on track to reach their highest potential a couple months ago, will likely not do so. It's still a nice place to hike in the morning and evening as signs of fall creep in. Shorter days and longer nights cool things down nicely. And as you'll read below in #3, a pair of armadillos have made Tandy their home. Here's hoping for some baby armadillos and more exciting pics next month.

This picture pretty much says it all, right now, at Tandy Hills. Watch your step!

American Basketflower (Centaurea americana) dead heads have spilled their seed on the dry prairie.

Unidentified tall grass turned to dried hay. 

A very odd plant, Fine-leaf Gerardia (Agalinis densiflora) provides one of the few bits of color in August.

Mrs. Reliable, Snow on the Prairie (Euphorbia bicolor) is glorious in the setting sun.

Seed heads of Illinois Bundleflower (Desmanthus illinoensis) are strikingly beautiful right now.

3) Armadillo's on the Prairie

Fort Worth resident, John Tandy, filmed a short video of an armadillo at Tandy Hills on August 28. Watch it here:

John also wrote the following, companion narrative:

There were actually two armadillos - and like me and Mr. Dog, they were taking a little walk at the end of the day.  These beautiful little creatures enjoy the prairie, too - in fact they depend on it.  It is a web of life.  People think of it in abstract terms, but there's a reality to it.  If this place wasn't protected, the armadillos would be gone.  A lot of other animals would be gone, too.  

We, the humans, would still be here, but we'd be the poorer for it.  Having a place like Tandy Hills gives life a richness.  The native people know it - they understand it.  They know that being connected to Mother Earth strengthens us as human beings.  It makes us whole. 

In a practical way, it helps our minds work better.  It helps our bodies - walking along those paths will do a lot for you - keep you nimble, and it will take away stress and relax you.  

I was walking here with my grandfather and other family members 60 years ago and now I'm lucky enough to be doing that again.  Undoubtedly the ancestors of those armadillos were here then, too.  I was glad to see them, and who knows? - maybe they were glad to see me, too.  They did seem friendly, and I'm not really sure - maybe I imagined it - but I think they might have been smiling.  I know I was and, probably in that sunset, my grandfather was, too.

Illustration by John Woodhouse Audubon.

4) Pollinators Love Thistle

Nebraska is a long way from Tandy Hills but the prairie flora up there is similar, including the ubiquitous prairie thistle. Texas Thistle (Cirsium texanum) is the native version found at Tandy Hills. It is often confused with the non-prickly, American Basketflower (Centaurea americana).

Chris Helzer, has written a new essay on the importance of this often maligned plant to birds and wildlife. Check out, Saving Pollinators One Thistle at a Time, on his blog, The Prairie Ecologist.

Texas Thistle

5) Flashback 2010: Creek Plum Romance

Return with me if you will to Prairie Notes of August 2010 when Indian Grass reached more than 8' tall and Creek Plum bushes last bore fruit and romance was in the air...

Tandy Hills, August 2010: Indian Grass as high as an elephant's eye.

6) Patagonia Prairie

For my money, there is no company on planet Earth with better environmental ethics than Patagonia, Inc. Their business model has made countless innovations that fly in the face of traditional ways of doing business but yield big green profits, 10% of which they donate to grass roots organizations. 

Founder, Yvon Chouinard, has written a short essay for a recent promo titled, Prairie Salvation, that explains how the company is working to help restore grasslands in both the Great Plains of north America and Argentina. Yeah, they are out to make a profit, but they always put Mother Earth, first. I think you'll find the essay inspiring.

Cover photo of Patagonia newsletter by, Jon Levitt

7) Prairie Proverb

"Instead of waiting for some miraculous, high-tech solution to bail us out of our climate-change disaster, the real miracle turns out to be simply working with nature instead of against it. Our grasslands, and the soil beneath them, might just save the world."

- Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, Inc. (Photo by Lucia Griggi)


Prairie Notes© is the official newsletter of Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization. All content by Don Young except where otherwise noted.