November 2021 Update From NIPE

November 2021 Update From NIPE

Lonetree Farm, in rural Stockton, Illinois, gets busy this time of year with NIPE’s prairie seed mixes. Staff and volunteers spend hours picking native plant seeds from area prairies and savannas, separating seeds from the rest of the plant, drying seeds, and then sorting into their proper mixes for seeding and overseeding elsewhere.

Earlier this fall, NIPE received two and a half large lawn bags of common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) to help with these efforts. This is the milkweed that is so important to the Monarch butterfly life cycle. To use the seed in NIPE’s prairie seed mixes, it must be removed from the pods and de-fluffed. Paid staff and volunteers spent a total of 55 hours at Lonetree cleaning three wheelbarrows full of pods. The result was a little over eight pounds of clean seed.

(Photos of the Asclepias de-fluffing project: from wheelbarrows full of seed pods to de-fluffing to clean seed. Photos by Rickie Rachuy.)

In late September, NIPE’s Jim and Rickie Rachuy gave members of the Lake Carroll (Illinois) Prairie Club a tour of the rare plant gardens at Lonetree Farm. The tour also included time spent in the seed shed and greenhouse (currently housing more prairie plant seeds awaiting milling and bagging). Club members were allowed to process a few of their own collected seeds on the hammer mill in the seed shed.

In the Rare Plant Gardens at Lonetree Farm (photo by Pam Richards)

Working the Hammer Mill (photo by Pam Richards)

Voices of Moely Prairie featured on Nature Revisited Podcast

Voices of Moely Prairie featured on Nature Revisited Podcast

Moely Prairie has had a presence on Instagram (@moelyprairie) and Facebook (For the Love of Moely Prairie) for the last several years, and during that time, my fellow volunteers and I have connected with many nature lovers around the world. One follower who I have come to know quite well is Stefan van Norden, the producer of a podcast called Nature Revisited. Earlier this spring, he asked if I would be open to doing a podcast about Moely Prairie. At first, I was a bit hesitant; my family and I have only been doing prairie restoration for about 5 years, and although we have certainly learned a lot about prairies in that time, we still don’t feel like we qualify as “experts” to speak with authority about prairie restoration. 

Stefan explained that he was delighted by the photos on our Instagram page depicting our daily discoveries and was intrigued by our restoration efforts on this true remnant prairie. Sensing my hesitancy, he suggested that we forego the traditional podcast interview and instead create an episode that highlights the voices of the land owners, educators, students, conservation experts, and volunteers who appreciate, study, and work to restore Moely Prairie. Stefan’s excitement and vision made it an easy challenge to accept.

Over the summer, I conducted several on-site interviews. Barbara Moely, who owns the land with her sons and who donated the conservation easement that protects Moely Prairie in perpetuity, recorded her testimony from her home in California. My husband, Rick, went to work crafting a poetic narrative to highlight some of the natural and cultural history of the land, including the “where” and the “what” that make remnant prairies like Moely Prairie so special.

Week by week, I would send our audio files to Stefan, who wove parts of them into Rick’s narrative, and music created by Ben Cosgrove. We were given permission to use the song, “Cairn” from Ben’s most recent album, The Trouble with Wilderness. When I first heard the song, it immediately conjured pictures in my mind of Moely Prairie in its many seasons. We all agreed it would be the perfect accompaniment to the voices of Moely Prairie.

We are delighted with the final results and hope you, too, have a chance to listen. Find the podcast by subscribing to Nature Revisited on your favorite podcast streaming platform, on the Nature Revisited YouTube page, or at their website. As of this writing, the Moely Prairie episode has reached more listeners in the first 24 hours than any other podcast Stefan has produced. It’s a wonderful testament to the love people have for Moely Prairie and for all prairies in general.