Notes from the Farm on Wetlands
Lynne: My last post was about the beauty of the prairie on the farm, today, I want to post about the beauty of the wetlands on the farm. One of the best things about the farm, is the number of different habitats you can see.
The wetlands are as wonderful as the prairie, but I like to look at them more than I like to walk in them. There are insects and snakes and sucking mud that make me careful about what I wear when I do go exploring. I put on those Wellingtons I spoke of the other day and resign myself to getting really dirty and really wet. But there is so much to see, it is worth whatever it takes to get clean when you’re done. I think of it like swimming in cold water those first few days of summer, once you’re in you enjoy it so much you don’t want to get out.
The photo above is of a stretch of creek that has already been filtered by the main, marshy areas and you can tell that the creek is running clear and swift. The bank of yellow flowers in the foreground is a showy clump of the pointy sticktights you find on your clothes and your dog after a walk.
The creek is clear, because the wetlands have captured the silt and fertilizers that run off of fields and land cleared for building. The marshy areas act like a sponge that absorbs this run-off before it is dumped into rivers and streams. The wetlands also act as areas of flood control as they absorb water during periods of flooding and release their water during periods of drought. Purdue has a very informative webpage on wetlands and water quality, if you wish to know more.
These two photos show a beaver dam. Footprints and the more telltale tooth-cut logs and branches helped us discover it. The Great Plains Nature Center has great photos of beaver and their chewing habits. Water is dammed and pools behind the dam create more beneficial marshy areas. However, wetlands change quickly because of their response to the weather. A beaver dam today is not a beaver dam tomorrow and ‘busy as a beaver’ has meaning when you have to repair or start over whenever a big storm passes through.
Now that I think about it, maybe I do like the wetlands better than the prairie. Oh wait, I haven’t posted about the woods yet or the pond. Well, I guess I don’t have to worry about which is best…If you can’t choose which one you love, love the one you’re with.