Prairie Preserve

A native grassland remnant turns landowners into stewards.

| July/August 2009

  • Mead's Milkweed
    The rare Mead's Milkweed started the move toward stewardship on South Fork Prairie.
    Bob Gress
  • Orange Butterfly Milkweed
    Orange Butterfly Milkweed draws winged insects.
    Kathleen McKenzie Winn
  • Big Blue Stem
    Big Blue Stem grass waves in the Missouri breeze.
    Kathleen McKenzie Winn
  • Cream Indigo
    Cream Indigo shows off its great color.
    Kathleen McKenzie Winn
  • Prairie Phlox
    Bright Prairie Phlox shows up easily in the grass.
    Kathleen McKenzie Winn
  • Tall Boneset
    Monarch butterflies take their time exploring a Tall Boneset (Eupatorium altissimum) plant on South Fork Prairie.
    Kathleen McKenzie Winn

  • Mead's Milkweed
  • Orange Butterfly Milkweed
  • Big Blue Stem
  • Cream Indigo
  • Prairie Phlox
  • Tall Boneset
SIDEBARS:
Burning Field for Pasture Health
Pasture Grass Should be Mowed 

When my husband David and I hit our 40s, we didn’t experience a midlife crisis, but we did hear the siren song of country life. We started to dream of owning land. And that dream led us to purchase a most lovely patch of Missouri prairie that fulfilled our dream and so much more.

I can’t say what it was that finally pushed us into making the decision that forever changed our lives. Maybe it was being bumped a little too hard in a crowded mall, or sitting in a cloud of exhaust fumes during rush hour. We wondered what it would be like to replace police sirens and booming car stereos with birdsongs and breezes whistling through the trees.

A dream realized

For more than 20 years we’d lived in a suburb of Kansas City. We raised two daughters there, enjoyed the parks, the giant oak trees that lined our streets and the convenient location. I worked in the legal department of a bank at the time, and David was a systems analyst for a telecommunications company.

After months of searching, we found our land, a 105-acre tract in Cass County, Missouri. We fell in love with its wild beauty, towering oak trees, fragrant cedar groves and wildflower-filled meadows.



On a sunny day in April of 2000, with signed paperwork in hand, the car full of camping gear, and our black Lab squeezed in between sleeping bags and a rolled-up tent, we headed to the property. Once there, we hiked across a field of waist-high grasses to an old elm tree with a decrepit deer stand wedged between its branches. Using weathered boards nailed to the trunk, we pulled ourselves up onto the rickety platform and looked out over what we’d just spent a hefty chunk of our life savings on.

“Are we crazy?” I asked my husband.





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Grit JulAug 2016At GRIT, we have a tradition of respecting the land that sustains rural America. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing to GRIT through our automatic renewal savings plan. By paying now with a credit card, you save an additional $6 and get 6 issues of GRIT for only $16.95 (USA only).

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