Thursday, November 24, 2022

West Then North

We have reached a corner that is adjacent to rich river bottom land.  Once again the border of our land is defined by stone removed from the field.  This line is less than straight and to the right is a huge mass of simply dumped stone.  Fallen leaves have rotted to become soil in the more than one century that has passed since stones were placed here.

A more recent event can also be seen in the top left corner of the photo.  The original farm barn was struck by lightening and burned to the ground about 1960.  The remains of the fire were hauled up the hill and dumped here over the edge.  When the fire debris was all placed here, what became the gravel bank was opened to provide fill to cover the mess.  When walking here an occasional encounter with protruding metal happens.

This is the view looking Eastward along this end of the property line.  The stone work is mine and my goal was to rebuild the original wall as far as the White Pine tree.  The steel pipe that was driven into the ground to define the property line is peeking up out of the wall.  The reconstruction of the wall was carefully done to preserve the original placement of this marker.

Looking to the North one can see more of a decent stone wall and a much improved Gravel Bank Road.  Goldenrod growing here along with wild berry canes really need to be removed.

Here we have returned to River Road.  The driveway is much improved from what we originally found.  Adjacent to the hill is another place where stone cleared from the field was simply dumped.  A bend in the road was needed to get around that pile.  Much of that removed stone was used to the build the wall just out of sight to the right.

At this point our land is only forty feet wide.  The right turn onto the lane is where our homestead opens up to its thirty-six acres.  The original farm contained a long stretch of desirable river bottom land that was sold first as house sized lots.  The retreating glacier left behind many interesting land forms up our hill creating an attractive site for a primitive homestead.  We have called this land our own since 1994.  Perhaps the time is approaching when this treasure should be placed in the care of younger people.


Sunday, November 20, 2022

Heading North

The original 130 acre farm here was defined by only two straight lines that met at a right angle and the Unadilla River.  Here we are looking to the North at part of one of those original property lines.  This is the longest straight line that defines what is ours.  The retreating glacier deposited many different appearing land forms here.  The bedrock ridge is behind us and is disappearing into glacial till.  Ahead of us is higher ground that is entirely glacial material.  The visible depression carries away a steady water flow that oozes from the bedrock.  From the first time that I walked here, I wanted to build a stone dam to form a respectable sized pond.  That project remains only a dream. 

This depression was formed when a large chunk of the glacial ice fell into meltwater.  The till dropped here covered the ice creating a long level land form.  Eventually the ice melted and the soil dropped into the resulting hole.  A Dead Ice Sink is frequently filled with water but this area contains a deep deposit of sandy ground that quickly carries away water.

This picture is looking Eastward toward the Dead Ice Sink.  It shows the long soil deposit that may be the highest ground that we own.  To me it looked like the level deck of an aircraft carrier since the ground sharply falls away in all directions..  To the right several lower and smaller fields can be found.  This ground was drier and was used only as pasture for the dairy cows.  Views of the ridge are spectacular and we still spend a great deal of time walking here.

Our property line crosses this feature as the land drops away on the far side.  We have always referred to it as the Gravel Bank Hill since a gravel bank was opened there about seventy years ago.  When we purchased this land the highway crew of the Town of Unadilla yearly took away enough gravel to cover the taxes on the remains of the original farm.  That arrangement ended when we acquired this land.


The Gravel Bank Hill drops sharply to river bottom land.  Walking that property line when some snow covers the ground would be risky so we will have to imagine the sharp drop to this pipe that marks the end of our walk to the North.  A left turn will have us walking to the West.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Walking Eastward

This is the view while standing on the Southern end of the lane looking to the East.  The truck is ours while the opposite field belongs to others.  Here again the exact location of the property line is hidden.  The neighbor's land was part of the original farm and was cultivated.  That activity placed stones at the edge of the field that obscure the new property line.  Our land here is on the location of the disappearing bedrock ridge.  That stone composition prevented farm activity leaving this area untouched by human activity and home to very old trees.


This is a view looking to the North.  Everything seen here is ours.  The distant patch of snow cover shows part of the level kame terrace deposited by the retreating glacier.  The huge piece of stone to the right is a broken chunk of the bedrock dropped here by the melting ice.  We find walking in this area tremendously peaceful but our path has established a trail.  Wildlife also use our trail.

This area marks the location of a minor change in the direction of the property line.  When the last man to farm this land was selling off pieces of it, he used sections of iron pipe driven into the ground to mark the location of new property lines.  In the foreground a piece of pipe can be seen.  When the recent sale of this land happened, the surveyor could not find the pipe as a huge growth of ferns kept it hidden from view.  The small tree near the left edge of the photo is where he put his metal pipe.  He also used a taller wooden stake to make it possible to find the property line.  That placement gave me more land but it really makes no difference since all here prefer this land to remain wild.

This photo shows the view from the original pipe looking to the East.  The property line drops downhill  as it heads toward an area filled with smaller glacial deposits.  The farmer ran a single strand of barbed wire across the ground to mark the location of the property line.  A hiker must pay close attention to avoid tripping on this wire.

Looking back toward the West, this post marks the location of a change of direction for the property line.  Next we will be moving to the North along a barbed wire fence line.  The lower level of this ground covers the remains of the stone ridge.  Water seeps from the ridge into the filled area.  Large chunks of stone provide a dangerous but dry path when walking here.  The fill is shallow providing little room for tree roots to form a firm anchorage.  Wind thrown trees are common. Walking this part of the perimeter is not for the short-winded or the faint-hearted.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Walk The Property Line

As one ages the certainty of a tomorrow becomes less sure.  The borders of our land are clearly described in the deed but difficult to find when walking about.  This first photo was taken with my back close to River Road.  The neatly mowed grass belongs to our neighbor and the edge of the dry stone wall is very close to the property line.  The deed describes this beginning as next to a telephone pole.  That pole has been replaced but part of it is still here underground.  The exact location of the property line remains undescribed since no part of the pole is identified as being the point of separation.  This neighbor is more than reasonable and we cannot imagine a problem here.  This is the Western edge of our land.  Moving South 150 feet toward the top of the photo brings us to a change of direction.


This lane's center line is the border between our land and two of our neighbors and defines the location of a right of way.  The short fence post to the right is in line with the missing telephone pole.  At one time a piece of steel pipe was driven into the ground to mark the location of the center of the right of way.  A now gone property owner removed that piece of pipe.  The view here is generally to the West.

As previously mentioned this right of way separates the land.  Ours is on the uphill side.  Walking here usually brings to mind a poem written by Robert Frost.  This winding path covers 1,468 feet.


This stone wall was placed at the edge of the right of way to protect transplanted Arbutus plants.  One likely does not see the need for protection but a former property owner believed that the fence line separated our land not the center line of the lane as described in his deed.  He bulldozed away nearly twenty feet wide section of my land.  His religious beliefs made this acceptable since he saw a use for that land.  My wall continues to protect my plants and a later battle with me caused that land owner to sell both his business and home and move West.


This stone wall marks the Southern edge of our property.  The actual property line is in the center of the lane.  The stone wall marks the limit of the right of way.  I knew that the white dog named Luca was in the picture but remained unaware of his raised leg.  Tomorrow we will look to the right of the stone wall and follow the property line Eastward into the woods.

Sunday, October 9, 2022

Garlic Bed

More than a month has passed since our last blog entry.  Most of our gardens have been captured by weeds requiring a great amount of work to find the ground.  Overnight frost followed by clear skies created an environment conducive to outdoor work today and we spent two hours working outside.  When Becky returned to the house with her garden cart in tow, two snakes were soaking up the sunshine in the curved stone lined path to the basement door.  The one at ground level quickly disappeared into the stone wall while this more mature snake remained motionless higher up on the wall.  Becky was able to scoot by and get her camera without moving this snake.  We gladly share our homesite with them since they eat varmints that feast on our garden plants.



In the center of this sea of weeds lies a painstakingly prepared bed of rich garden soil.  Removing the entire weed has been our goal.  Considerable time and effort has been expended clearing weeds from this sixty square foot  section of a planting bed.  Working only with hand tools has required many days to get to this point.  I use a four tined spade to loosen small clumps of weeds.  Then a hand held cultivator is inserted to pull free small clumps of weeds and their roots.  The surface of the bed looks great but we know that persistent evil lurks just under the soil surface.

Quack grass is the most evil weed weed here.  This entire plant mass remained buried in soil that I had painstakenly cleared.  Only the small green shoots hinted that not all of the plant had been removed.  Working carefully in the loosened soil, this monster was removed in tact.  Experience has taught us that despite our application of careful persistence, more of these missed weed pieces will grow alongside of our soon to be planted garlic.

One of the issues that makes gardening difficult is the down side of growing older.  In my wilder younger days much time was spent building dry stone walls.  That could be the cause of the arthritis that has settled in my spine right at belt level.  This morning's use of a long handled potato hook  on already loosened soil set that section of my spine ablaze.  Using the cold grass from last night's frost and removing the need for my spine to support my upper body sent the pain packing.  Becky did not return to find me on the ground.  After she returned I told her that a ground bed might help.  It did but when the pain disappeared, she spoke in favor of the end of today's outside work.  We will try again tomorrow.

Saturday, September 3, 2022

Country Smarts

When we purchased this land twenty-eight years ago, it was surrounded by a perimeter fence.  No active farming had been done here for several years before we arrived on the scene.  We worked to remove all of the fences from the interior and what remains is old and weathered.  The two posts in this photo mark the edge of an area owned by the family now living in the farmhouse.  Since they mark the location of our mutual property line, these posts must remain.  When I last mowed here a few days ago, my mower deck edge contacted the post breaking it.  The shortened post was reset in the original hole but is now about two feet shorter.

We make it up as we go along since neither of us were raised on a farm.  When the broken section was gently removed, we discovered stones at the ground surface had been placed to keep the post solidly upright.  The hole was enlarged slightly in order to remove the broken section.  The lower section of the original post was tapered making it much smaller than what was to take its place.  The shortened post nearly filled the available hole but wiggle it did.  Stones are a frequent  item in our ground so there was a small pile resting nearby where we intend to garden.  A quick look identified two likely candidates to fill the holes.  Stones tapped down to rest just even with the surface of the ground made this nonfarm boy proud.  All of that time spent building stone walls and patios developed a skill to judge just how large a stone is.  To say that I was proud of this repair is a huge understatement.


Most fence posts are driven firmly into the ground with several blows from a sledge hammer.  That sort of contact would have destroyed the lichen and moss growth evident here.  It likely would have also shattered the remaining post.  As it is, this old boundary marker looks like it has been in place for years and will most likely outlast me.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Never Seen Here Before

On a very rare occasion we have the opportunity to see something that has never before been seen here.  Two such sightings fairly close together are unbelievable.  Seeing a caterpillar eating  milkweed is commonly reserved for Monarchs.  This is a milkweed leaf being eaten by a caterpillar but it is no Monarch.  The brains of this outfit instantly recognized it as a Milkweed Tussock caterpillar.  There will be no migration when this caterpillar matures.  It will spend the winter here wrapped in a cocoon.

Our Princeton Field Guide states that the female adult moth deposits rafts of eggs.  I certainly appears that that two caterpillars are here together.  The why and the how remains a complete mystery.  The leaf eating ends neatly at the midrib.

Days earlier Becky and daughter Amy were harvesting weeds from the garden down by the road.  Several strange sounds were heard revealing the location of a Garter snake starting to eat a toad.  This looks like a beginning that cannot possibly come to an end.  The snake is a somewhat large creature for its species but it is dwarfed by the size of the toad.  An internet video of a similar event described a more than three hour wait for the snake to completely swallow the toad.  Needless to say the conclusion of this event remained unnoticed here.  Several days later, a respectable Garter snake crossed my path in this general area.  Its body was slender from the tip of its nose to the end of its tail.  We have no way of knowing if it was the same snake.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Sex In The Morning

Cardinal Flower is a native plant that presents many problems here right from the start.  Neither classification perennial or biennial accurately describes its growth habit.  As Fall approaches the entire plant that flowered dies to the ground.  Around its base up to six new plants begin to grow establishing a low rosette of new leaves that will continue to function under snow.  If the next season appears in an orderly fashion, each new plant will send up a single stalk that will display intense red flowers.

Our weather at this critical time in the growth cycle frequently kills the tender new leaves.  This plant flourishes to our north where winter is colder than here.  It is the change in daily temperatures that keep this plant rare in the Southern Tier of NYS.  We experience widely changing daily temperatures when early southern air sweeps in.  That night lows drop into the teens and the plant leaves darken and die.  In the Adirondacks to our north, the high temperatures are simply missing.  This plant can handle cold but not huge differences in daily temperature.  Roxbury native John Burroughs suggested Monarda as a  native plant that could  bring intense red colored flowers to our gardens.  Not one to quit easily, I persist in trying to establish surviving patches of Cardinal Flower.  The plants in the first picture did survive but their growth is severely stunted.  Normally, these soon to flower stems would be waist high.  These survivors are a welcome sight as many of our plants did not survive at all.

This photo was chosen since it clearly shows the structure of an individual flower.  Disregard the lowest flower in the center.  Directly above it, three downward pointing red flower petals that might be seen as resembling a bird's tail make a dominate appearance.  At the location where these three petals join, two upward pointing red petals can be seen.  They could be seen as a bird's wings.  Directly above all of that is a white colored blob at the end of what looks like a tube or a bird's head.  It contains all of the parts necessary to produce seed.

Various reproductive parts can be seen here but the bright red of the petals will catch and hold the eye.  This photo is included here just because of its beauty.

This picture shows many reproductive parts in various stages of activity.  All of this happens rather quickly but I have not yet been able to maintain focus on one spot long enough to see any actual movement.  That intense red color simply draws my focus to petals where nothing is happening.  The white ring quickly is covered with yellow pollen.  At the left side of the picture, a powerful imagination will suggest the location of yellow pollen.  A moist suggestively shaped organ pushes past the pollen coated ring.  That pollen is captured and rapidly sent back inside of the tube on its journey to the base of the flower where seed will develop.  I need to catch my breath.

My earlier words did not mention new plants from seed.  As is the case with many wildflowers, seed simply falls to the ground as the plants die down.  This seed is quite picky about necessary conditions for germination.  The ground must be both warm and wet for the seeds to grow.  If all goes well, a low rosette of Fall appearing leaves will be seen.  They are very similar in appearance to the new growth that springs from the base of the now dead plant.

This Spring was deadly for many plants.  Those that survived are  unusually small.  We did intervene spreading freshly cut dead Chrysanthemum stems over these pictured survivors.  That supply was limited with nearby neighbors only thinly covered.  Many of them are dead.  This Summer has been hot and dry.  We have yet to see a new plant from seed.  These brilliantly colored flowers are once again with us.  Their next brush with possible extinction will be faced on the other side of Winter.

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Not Impressed

Advanced age has now limited how much time that we can be outside working in our gardens.  Native animals have always explored our ground but with our absence now really feel that this ground is theirs.  The doe dropped her twin fawns close to the stone wall directly in front of the house.  Her instructions to them were stay where you are.  We did not disturb them since their muscles needed time to firm up to the point where they could walk without injuring themselves.  This morning as I was walking toward the shed Mom and one of the twins held their ground as I drew near.  There were no hoof stabs into the ground or snorts directed my way.  Comfortable with my advancing presence, they joined the other twin and simply walked down the driveway.  More than one fox is commonly seen here.  Perhaps their level of comfort is overstated by this deposit of the remains of a wild blueberry meal placed directly outside of our front door.

This huge fearsome spider has found a place to lay her eggs in our gardens for many years.  Our wire fences provide an airy anchorage where generous meals, like the one just beneath her, are common.  Many years ago, I was describing this frightening insect in the faculty room at school.  The science teacher was interested in adding a mounted specimen to his collection.  He made a home visit with his killing jar in his hand.  He sized up his intended victim for some time.  A stealthy approach was underway when the spider suddenly dropped to the ground with lightning speed.  The teacher was mostly airborne as he quickly exited the garden.  Fast and ferocious is a powerful combination.

We placed a large planting of this purple  Monarda directly behind our bench in the shade garden down by the road.  Humming bird moths are fond of feeding on this plant and they are not troubled by our nearby presence.  That large yellow and black colored mass in the upper left of the picture is actively feeding.  Their wings are mostly transparent while those two black stabilizers clearly stand out.  Once again we have an insect that has no reaction to our presence.


Our homestead is located adjacent to a  bend in the Unadilla River.  For anything that flies, the direct path downstream is straight over our home.  Migrating Monarch butterflies fly right over us every Fall.  We have encouraged the growth of Milkweed, the only food source for these caterpillars, in many places on our land.  This plant is growing where the planting bed meets the stone path.  Its roots are well below most garden plants so both coexist here.  The migration is weeks away so this new butterfly will be able to lay eggs that will produce new butterflies for that trek.  We find it wonderful to be part of helping this endangered treasure to stay alive.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

They Can Fly

We found ourselves at our High Meadow this morning.  Recently Amy saw a Killdeer here.  It was the first time that she had ever seen this beautiful bird.  We have made two return trips but found it neither time.  Every visit here is special in its own way.  Invasive Japanese Honeysuckle has been removed from this level field.  On my seventy-third birthday I was provided with a machine that had a seat and a bucket for a weekend.  Acres of level ground saw this highly invasive plant removed.  To keep it gone I now mow huge fields.  It is time to stop the mowing this year since the Milkweed is in flower.   We recently came upon two Monarch butterflies joined together to transfer the seed packet that will yield eggs.  These leaves will be home to the next generation of caterpillars then butterflies.  So far the early mowings have kept the Honeysuckle absent from this ground.

We have seen this turkey and her four young many times.  Yesterday they were taking dust baths under October Sky Asters planted right next to the corner of the house.  They have been spending a great deal of time rather close to the house.  Our concern for their safety remains active since the poults seemed too small to fly.  Turkeys spent the nights in trees where they are safe from predators.  For a period following hatching, both the young and their mother sleep on the ground.  We need worry no more.  Mom and her young were in the taller weeds in the center of the field when we first saw them.  Their reaction to our presence was to head toward the trees.  Our movement sent the group back into the taller weeds.  Soon the young appeared in the shorter weeds where they took to the air.  They found safety in the Pine trees.  Mother also flew but remained in the field possibly intending to keep our focus on her.

At my recent doctor's visit, I was told that most of the men born in 1944 are now dead.  I am still here two years after that dividing line.  This land and its peaceful connection to nature has been ours for the past twenty-eight years.  Age now limits my ability to do all of the physical work necessary to preserve this land but I absolutely cannot see myself living in a senior care facility.  How could anyone leave this wonderful life so close to nature?

Friday, July 8, 2022

Four Patches Of Mayflowers In July

This is our only naturally occurring patch of that wonderful native plant also known as  Trailing Arbutus.  In the early 1960's the barn burned and the trash that the fire left behind was buried in this area.  A gravel bank was opened to expose material used to cover the remains of the barn.  This spot features the lumpy overburden that was pushed aside.  As difficult as it is to believe, this tiny patch of green may be fifty years old.

When we first found it we knew nothing about it other than it had sweet smelling flowers in April or May.  Some years we found and enjoyed these blossoms while other years no trace of the plant could be found.  What we eventually learned was that this evergreen plant exposes its sweet tasting leaves following snow melt.  Rabbits are particularly fond of feeding on these leaves.  Despite this damage, the plant used the next three years to reestablish itself and flower.  That explains the wire cage that covers this plant.  The dry stone walls surrounding the cage have to date made it impossible for hungry animals to push the cage aside or slide under it.

This area features our first successful transplants and a from seed plant that grew in the soil clump moved with the plant.  Arbutus is described as impossible to move in many books but we found success.  Our understanding of this plant when we moved it was limited since we were unaware that it exists in both genders.  Pure luck gave us three pollen producing plants and one that grows seeds.  The dense leaf growth here makes it impossible to know if any other plants grew from the seed produced here.  Leaf growth has reached the limits of the covering cage and we have no plans to protect these exposed plant parts.

This closeup is intended to show the difference between the new light green leaves that are new growth this year and the older dark green leaves.  We still do not understand the life cycle of these evergreen leaves.  At some point in time some must die but we seldom see a dead leaf.  One may be visible in the second wire rectangle from the left in the center row but we have no way of knowing its age.  Their general appearance may be hidden beneath the vigorous new growth.

Our second successful attempt to transplant can be seen here.  When these four pollen producing plants and two seed growing plants were placed here, we gave them great care.  Fallen White Pine needles were singularly removed so that the Trailing Arbutus leaves were fully exposed.  Recently we have limited our intrusion of the natural turn of events since we want this to be a wild native plant.  This tree suffered great damage from the late heavy snow storm and the Arbutus plants are nearly covered with fallen pine needles.  This cage will be temporarily set aside so that the heavy load of pine needles can be lightened.

When we were digging transplants, we disturbed a tiny cluster of possibly five plants.  These were placed in the corner of our first patch.  Two or three years later exactly two plants remained alive.  They were placed here adjacent to the property line under a huge White Pine.  As luck would have it, both genders are present.  We brought no soil here as we wanted these plants growing from a deep deposit of rotted pine needles.  They are doing well sending out long pieces of new growth.

Trailing Arbutus plants form their blossom buds ahead of winter.  Our next set of pictures will focus on new buds.  This year weather was harsh when the open flowers were expected so we eagerly look forward to next year. 

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Flowers In The Wild

When this rather poor farmland became ours twenty-eight years ago, we were in our fifth decade of existence and capable of hours of physical labor in intense sunlight.  Sod was removed and stacked to compost.  Stones were sifted from the soil and used to build weed free paths.  Tired but happy was the rule of each day.  Our present loss of function has totally changed our garden.  This Butterfly Weed plant may have planted itself here.  We remember trying to establish purchased plants with mixed results.  This plant may well be self planted from seed.  It is at the end of a planting bed in full view from the living room window.  Many recent days find us watching this Aphrodite Fritillary butterfly from the comfort of an airconditioned room.  As I was being driven inside by the oppressive heat, I  stopped for this photo.

Rose Campion is a beautiful but difficult plant.  Its brightly colored flowers are backed by a silver green colored foliage.  It is a biennial with a low rosette of leaves as its first year of growth.  A long tap root makes transplantation difficult.  We have been content to let these plants grow where they please.  In time small sifted stone paths become filled with composted plant parts and minerals from the stones.  Many plants seem to prefer this mixture as a place to grow.  We happily walk around these beauties to use our garden paths.

This view is looking straight down a thirty by three foot stone path.  No stones are visible despite their six inch depth.  Wood Betony is another purple color flowered plant that has been popular here for decades.  Planted in our carefully prepared soil, the plants grew but did not flourish.  These plants are all escapees from our stone free planting beds.  They find something in the path ground that was missing from the soil that we created.  We intend to clear out some of the weeds while doing no damage to these special plants in preparation for next year's display.

Elle gave us these Gloriosa Daisies years ago.  As she said would happen, many plants returned to yellow only petals while some of the brightly colored flowers persist.  We are moving along in age ourselves with no plan for what comes next and find some comfort from these past gifts.  Many different plants in our gardens came from Elle  They always bring to the front pleasant memories. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Milkweed Flowers

June drawing to a close has always been a special time of year.  Thirty-four times it marked the change from working in the classroom to ten weeks of vacation or a summer job.  For many, Milkweed is little more than a roadside weed.  Its unique connection to the Monarch butterfly makes it an incredibly important native plant.  Our retirement land was purchased more than one quarter of a century ago and its wildly rural nature placed us in close contact with both the butterfly and its food source.  Memory of its powerful scent could not go unnoticed.

The difference in the color of the open flowers remains an unanswered question.  Many are close to white colored while others show a rose pink.  One possible explanation could be the age of the open flower but we see both colors on plants with both open flowers and unopened buds.  Perhaps this issue is similar to the variation in human eye or hair color.  It just happens.

Several years ago we started squash seeds indoors well ahead of the last frost date.  When these plants were moved outside there was a long period when no blossoms were pollinated.  The newly opened flowers on the milkweed were a powerful magnet drawing in all of the bees.  Our squash simply had to wait until these flowers were finished.  Early yesterday morning when I first saw open flowers, a perfect Fritillary butterfly was finding food there.  When I returned in the afternoon with a camera the bees had taken possession of these flowers.  The only butterflies seen then were being chased away by selfish bees.

It comes as no surprise to those people that know us that we meddle in the natural order.  As Fall approaches we see huge numbers of Milkweed plants with no leaves as they die down.  This is at the exact time when the caterpillars need a food source.  These developing creatures eat only Milkweed leaves and they are scarce at that time.  Milkweed is an amazing plant.  When it has a visit from a lawn mower, it simply regrows.  We mow two large fields intending to end mowing in July so that the new growth will have young leaves for the caterpillars.  This sounds like a good plan but some of the plants that we cut down are feeding new caterpillars.  We do have large areas that never see the mower so we are not killing all of them.  This working with nature is never easy.