August 31: Summer’s Last Stand

Today, a sadly diminished Team Echinacea faced the renewed bout of heat/humidity without Gina, Will, or our fearless leader Stuart. It felt strange to arrive at the Hjelm House and not to see Will sitting in his usual spot at the picnic table.┬áDespite being in Chicago, Stuart had plenty prepared for us to do. We started off the day with demo rechecks at Staffanson, which went quickly and smoothly thanks to our thorough work there last week. Then, while Ali, Abby and Amy harvested heads at P2 (they got about 20!) and Danny worked on the computer to prepare our afternoon tasks, Matt and I took the truck out to do demo at the last of the smaller sites, and just as importantly, to teach me how to drive stick! Ali and I are both learning to drive manual transmission this summer, because once Danny and Amy move to Chicago, the truck will be our only mode of transportation. Luckily for us, Matt is a very patient and calm teacher. Despite many engine revs, strange grinding noises, and that time I killed the engine in the middle of the road with two cars behind me, he made me feel capable and confident. I’m glad to be building yet another skill here in Minnesota!

After a lunch comprised mainly of yellow-jacket trap setting, we headed out to P1 to map the gopher mounds. Those pesky little varmints have completely overturned much of the northeast corner of the garden–we found 51 mounds total, 49 of which were in that area. Too bad Roxy isn’t here to do some gopher hunting! Finally, we headed back out to Staffanson, this time to demo and GPS the six nearest neighbors of certain plants on the transect. Although we were three tags short and therefore not able to quite finish the job, we found and GPS-ed all the plants we needed!

After work, we headed down to Morris to watch Abby’s first cross country meet of the season! Having all run cross country at some point in our lives, Amy, Ali and I were very excited to be there. And we’re so proud of Abby, our swift gazelle–hopefully our enthusiastic cheering didn’t embarrass her too much!

a gopher mound where an Echinacea should be :(

A gopher mound where an Echinacea should be ­čÖü




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