For the Love of Range and Pasture

Here’s a beautifully inspiring video I wanted to share with you all. It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. I’ve been busy finishing my ‘senior’ year of the range degree. Hoping to get to work this summer and keep on learning. -JD

Our Lands from John Irwin on Vimeo.



February 2019

Already the second month of the year and I’m thinking about the next 12 months. I have been thinking a lot lately about breaking up the pocket prairie and moving the plants around the yard to be used as landscaping. I want them in appropriate areas and not just concentrated in one rectangle. Of course we have natives in other places, I just want to expand on the idea of natives as landscaping plants. At the same time, I am looking at jobs around the Western United States and wondering what would look as nice to a future buyer. I’m not sure we will move but it’s a distinct possibility in a couple of years.

I’m also thinking about how I can propagate what I’ve already got to expand my resources. During the fall semester I also collected a few new things and I’m trying to propagate them in my raised beds that we originally put in for vegetables but with school and work have become neglected. I’m hoping Little bluestem, Splitbeard Bluestem and Dogbane take hold and that I’ll be able to redistribute them elsewhere. I also collected Compass Plant seeds that I’m thinking about starting but I’m not sure where or how. I am pretty sure those won’t want to be moved if I start them in the ground somewhere protected. I’m also wondering after 2 listen-thus of A Sand County Almanac, how long it will take for them to bloom after they germinate. I’m afraid it will be after we are gone if we move. That would break my heart.

I’m also thinking about cutting back and trying to remove the maximillion sunflower from the pocket prairie. I’ve got it else where in the yard but it’s too much in the PP. Last summer was the 2nd year and the main plant was as big as my wrist at the base (several stems each that big) and leaned all the way out into the road. There were also numerous babies from seed and maybe from rhizomes (Im not sure) all around. I pulled a lot that were within a couple of feet of the edge and I think I’ll be pulling a bunch up until they are gone… Those that I’ve got planted in the other spot will be trimmed back 2 times this year like the goldenrod and I’ll assess how that looks and works.

I also have several seed packets for new plants that I’m not sure what I want to do with since I’m thinking of moving things. I’ll probably just throw them into the PP and let them do their thing after I dig up some of the tall grasses. I really want to establish some native milkweeds.

What have you got going on with natives right now? Any large or small projects, things got you thinking? I’d love to know about it, leave a comment! JD


Urban Wildlife

Yesterday I was poking around outside, using words like dicot and monocot with Kate, my kiddo. I was also explaining that most plants have common names and how they can be confusing so she should learn the scientific names when she can. Just exposing her to vocabulary and ideas I didn’t get until adulthood. Anyhow, we got around the yard to the pocket prairie and a meowing began. It was a familiar meow. It belongs to a neighbor cat that only speaks to me because I’ve let him in and out of his house when his people are on vacation. He tolerates a little scratching from me but not always. Which means I love him a lot. Even though he’s a cat.

Last semester in the Ecology of Invasive Species class, one of our our guest lecturers, Dr. Loss, spoke about cats. House cats. Not bob cats or panthers. We learned that outdoor cats are responsible for 60+ extinctions. And I’ve learned from the same neighbors, a long time ago, what goes into declawing a cat which would probably fix the killing of a lot of small creatures but is an incredibly cruel thing to do to any animal. And. Duh. Would defeat the purpose of having a cat for many people. Mouse patrol for the cost of kibble and a few snuggles.

After learning about cats as an invasive species, I have a really hard time liking them. I didn’t care for them before, not in my house, for sure. But what do you do? Exterminate all cats? Condemn them all to the indoors? It’s unfair. As I’m sure it seems unfair not to be able to go to any body of water with your boat and not worry about cleaning it up before leaving the area. Who cares about some little mussels and stuff?? (See zebra and quagga mussels) it’s for the good of everyone long term to worry about and deal with invasive species. And in the case of cats, here’s my advice: fix them! Spay, neuter, fix, whatever. Don’t let them multiply in the wild.

So I have no idea if this guy is fixed or not. His owners are smart adults. I’m sure he’s keeping the mice at bay around our house too, since I see him in our backyard when the dogs are inside. He doesn’t bother me unless he’s trying to talk me into opening a door for him. I do like him tho. When they brought him and his cat house mate home, they were little. They stayed indoors for a long time and when they finally came outside, they wanted nothing to do with me. Until the people went on vacation and I was letting them in and out every day. Ever since then, this one tries to convince me to let him in and out. Even when his people are home. It cracks me up. He sees one value in me and that’s it. Bleh. It makes me happy to finally see who has been bedding down in the tall grass tho. Even though he doesn’t know I grew it and maybe there’s more than one positive attribute to me. Ha. And Kate… well she got to see the cat for sticking with me on the Latin tour of the yard lol. Probably the best distraction ever.

I’m not a cat hater. I swear.

more on that here:


it snowed here this morning. It’s beautiful! Look at those plants catching the snow and funneling the moisture down to their own roots. They’ve most likely caught way more snow than the short mowed Bermuda in other parts of the lawn. I couldn’t help but get a little video as I left to take my daughter to school.


We had our first hard freeze here in Oklahoma, at least in OKC. I don’t know about farther south of the metro tho. It’s an important time of year for many reasons. Number 1 on my mind is that most everything has senesced or died completely. It makes for a vastly different look in my garden, my flowerbeds and the pocket prairie. Of course my first compulsion is to go out and cut everything back but as you know, those dead plants are providing habitat for many things right now. I may clean up everything but the pocket prairie because I consider it and the native plants to be the most important (I’m kidding, I’ll probably not do anything until after finals) for our native wildlife. Whatever gets cleaned up, the pocket prairie stays until mid-March when other food sources begin to grow. Unless of course it becomes some sort of hazard. At that point, I do what needs to be done. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿผโ€โ™€๏ธ

2nd on my mind is to remind you, if you’re starting wildflowers from seed, some need cold stratification, scarification, etc… this freeze/wet/warm/freeze/whatever the weather brings is ideal for some of those. It’s the natural process that helps the seed coat wear down so the seed can germinate. If you have seeds that require those things, and you’re not into micromanaging, go ahead and put them out now. When we started the pocket prairie, the seeds were mixed with soil and spread this time of year. It was all I could handle, patience wise, to wait for the first tiny seedlings to emerge and begin to grow. And find out what they were!!

3rd on my mind is this: a lot of gardeners are very proactive with their tools and probably spend this time of year cleaning, oiling, sharpening, replacing and what not. My husband breaks the shovels and I break the smaller stuff. We don’t buy the most expensive garden tools… this may be half or all of the problem lol. Whatever. My point is, there are lots of garden-related things to be done this time of year if it gives you the blues seeing less green. Planning for spring and shopping for seeds is tops for me, personally. I’m hoping to move the largest grasses in the pocket prairie to other, more appropriate, places in our yard and take the pocket prairie more in a mixed or short grass direction. Use more of those giant things as landscaping around the house. I’m not sure when the best time to do that is but I’m sure I won’t be able to mess it up too bad. I just need to plan for the max height and drooping better.

What are you thinking about, working on, planning for right now? Send me a message! I’d love to connect with more pocket prairie people. JD ๐ŸŒต๐Ÿ‚๐Ÿ

Join me on and see my observations. Help identify where you can, post your own observations and enjoy learning about the diversity of living things on the planet!

My username: @jdstar

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Some observations are from the pocket prairie but most are from across the state and where ever I go. ๐Ÿ˜๐ŸŒฟ

Snow on the Mountain

Today I learned that I don’t know Snow on the Mountain (Euphorbia marginata) without the blooms. We’ve watched for it all summer and have been passing it without realizing. I’ll be paying more attention from now on. Today, they were there, in all their glory and made for a beautiful scene with the dew, the fog and the pasture!

Snow on the Mountain is native in most of the lower 48 states including Oklahoma. It grows 1-3′ high and is an annual.

This plant is toxic if consumed but can cause severe allergic reactions in some individuals just from being handled.

Probably the most interesting thing about this plant are the flowers. The actual flowers are pretty small and inconspicuous. The parts we see and think are flowers are actually modified leaves called bracts surrounding the small flowers, much like it’s relative the Poinsettia.

Snow on the Mountain can be confused with Snow on the Prairie. Snow on the Prairie Euphorbia bicolor is only native to the southern United States. See if you can tell the difference:

Below are images that show the plant to help with future identification. Not as scenic but helpful. These were taken later the same day after it warmed up, in the same location.


May 2018 Picture Update

I was afraid spring would never come this year. It’s here now but today feels more like summer with a high of 94ยฐF! The Pink Evening Primrose has come back in the pocket prairie in a massive clump. It began blooming after the primrose in another part of my yard. I’ve noticed a huge drop in Indian Blanket flowers this year. It was so prolific the last 2 years that I’m really surprised. All I can think is that all of the perennials coming back from the roots have shaded out the seed. Who knows. We need to mow around it, there was a lot of good rain last week and the grass has shot up. ย I’ve also noticed that the Passion Flower vine planted on the other side of the fence has sent roots into the pocket prairie. I’m not sure how I’ll handle that since there’s nothing in there for it to climb. It’s native so it’s welcome but I may add in a trellis. Maybe. What’s going on with your native plants right now? Anything interesting? Leave me a comment! JD ๐ŸŒž