The History

September 2019

 Over the last 27 years, I have heard a lot about the Loess Hills.

Loess Hills by Stone State Park

Dianne Blankenship and Bill Zales have been a huge component in preservation, conservation, and restoration in the Loess Hills area, and I had curiously and casually attended hosted field trips and hikes.

Bill Zales, Retired Botany Instructor
Dianne Blankenship leading a Prairie Walk

I was headed down a different path.

We bought a 59.7 acre property on Talbot Road on Stone State Park, and ‘Off I Went’ on my Equestrian Adventures.   Since 2007, I have been actively competing with my horses in a sport called “Eventing”. This is an Equestrian Triathlon with the same horse and rider participating in Dressage, Show Jumping, and Cross Country.

During my ‘Horsin’ Around’ years, I also actively participated in the initial installation of the Junior League Hands On Gallery at the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center, which includes a huge diorama of the prairie system– roots and all.

I also helped with fundraisers like “Nature Calls”, and that’s where my “Once And Future Prairie” Adventure began in earnest.  

Collecting Prairie Seeds on Bill and Dotty Zales property.

Bill, his wife Dotty, and his many friends had collected bags of Prairie seeds off his property near Broken Kettle Grasslands. My husband and I put a bid in on the seeds, and we won! Ok! What do I do with these precious, hand-harvested, carefully preserved seeds? Needless to say, Bill and his wife Dotty gave a detailed list of the seeds, how to prepare the plot, when to sow the seeds, and how to manage them over the next few years. So I did the prep work and waited. And waited. AND WAITED. It was an unusually mild winter, and the seeds instructed me to “sow just before a snowfall of preferably more than 2 inches ”. Well, February came and—FINALLY—It was predicted to snow!  

Off I went on my New Adventure!  

And then I wished and hoped for SNOW!!!!!!! And it snowed. And snowed. 7 inches!

I have never actually wished for lots of snow before… My timing must have been right because Nature also was sowing seeds during this storm.

The sun melted a nice thick layer of ice on top of the snow, enough to support the weight of the dogs.

That was three years ago. Every single day that I could since that Winter Wonderland Adventure, I have walked the mowed Galloping Paths throughout our property, and every single day I saw something new.

A new insect.

A caterpillar, possibly a Laurel Sphinx? Sphinx Kalmiae?

A strange bee.

Birds that I have never seen. Sounds and colors and movement that I had never noticed on our property. Now, in 2019, my “Once and Future Prairie”  adventure REALLY begins.

“Off I Go on my New Adventure!”