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Prairie Notes are monthly photo/journal observations from Tandy Hills Natural Area by Founder/Director, Don Young. They include field reports, flora and fauna sightings, and more, mixed with a scoop of dry humor and a bit of philosophy. They are available free to all who get on the FOTHNA email list.

Grassy Prairie High

Prairie Notes #86
February 1, 2014

1) Grassy Prairie High
2) Field Notebook: Shades of Winter
3) NEW Membership Benefits
4) Prairie Fest Update
5) Vote for Anne!
6) Prairies in a Changing World
7) Trout Lilliputians
8) Cool Cabin Fever
9) Prairie Proverb

1) Grassy Prairie High

In an alternate universe John Denver has been reincarnated and released a new hit song titled, Grassy Prairie High. At least it seems so based on the increased use of the word "prairie" in popular culture. The mental images the word conjures up seem to be striking a chord with the public much the way mountains did in the 1970's. (Rocky Mountain High, Coors Beer, the Denver Broncos, sheepskin jackets, etc.)

For a word that doesn't roll easily off the tongue, the word "prairie" continues to grow in popularity as a way to help sell a variety of products and services from booze to yoga classes. Consider these: Prairie Organic Spirits; Prairie Dog & Prairie Cat food; la Prairie (skincare products); Prairie Group (computer products); Prairie Artisan Ales; Tallgrass Prairie Studio; Prairie Industries, Inc. (windmill water); Prairie Moon Nursery; Prairie Underground (women's clothing); and Prairie Yoga.

I'm not quite sure what all this means to us grass huggers and prairie keepers but I'm sensing that 2014 will bring an increased awareness of and longing for open sky, tall grass, clean air, clean water and a thriving wildlife population. Lord knows that people need prairies more than prairies need people.

These are things that Friends of Tandy Hills and Prairie Fest have always been about. And this year, Fort Worth will be the site of the Native Prairies Association of Texas statewide conference. (see #6 below)

Personally, I'm looking forward to a cold bottle of Prairie Brand Beer after my hike on the Tandy Prairie.


2) Field Notebook: Shades of Winter

While the glorious wildflowers of Spring form silently beneath the limestone hills, the neutral shades of Winter dominate the landscape. One exception is Possum Haw tree(Ilex decidua), aka: Texas Holly. Only a few trees occupy Tandy Hills but are worth seeking out. On the other end of the spectrum is the grey-blue berries of the female Juniper tree (Juniperus virginiana). The much-maligned male of the species is also displaying it's characteristic amber-colored cones that stick in your nose like fish hooks. Bad as it is here, be glad you con't live in the Hill Country this year.

Possum Haw tree

Possum Haw berries brighten up the Winterscape at Tandy Hills

Juniper berries are especially robust in 2014.

The male cones that cause Cedar Fever in some folks are considered a plague on the land.

3) NEW Membership Perks

In THIS universe some longhaired minstrel continues crooning the song, "I Need You." He will likely keep doing so until YOU Become a Friend of Tandy Hills Natural Area. Please check out these new thank-you gifts that members will receive so he will stop singing that mournful tune.

Please go here to renew your Membership:

Our hot new tote-bags will boost your standing at the grocery store. Get 'em at the $25. level and up.

A $100. membership will get you a set of 10 postcards designed by Debora Young from her newly expanded book, Prairie Wildflowers.

Our bold new new t-shirt design printed on organic cotton is your gift for members at the $50. level.

4) Prairie Fest Update

With 85 days to go, Prairie Fest Directors, Carrie Vano and Greg Hughes remind me that things are happening fast and furious at PF Central. See below. But first: Please go here to become a Prairie Fest Sponsor:


Solar-powered music including folk, reggae, percussion ensemble, jazz, world music and Tejano. Details to be announced next month.


50 booths featuring everything from green products and services, vintage clothing, native plants and so much more. A local Boy Scout troop will have a rope bridge set up for the kiddos. You might also encounter impromptu kite-flyers, stilt walkers, belly dancers and hula hoopers in the big circle. More details next month.


A variety of food sellers for all tastes and a beer and wine tent will be available.


Beautiful rolling hills and prairie wildflowers are rare in North Texas but they define Tandy Hills Natural Area. Have you ever wondered how these features evolved? Travel back in time to find out!

Heather Foote, science educator and founder of Prairie Keepers has designed a new Time Travel Passport Game© for Prairie Fest 2014. Participants who solve a puzzle and collect a full set of geologic time stamps may enter a drawing to win prizes. Much more exciting news from Heather next month.

Heather is seeking Time Travel Passport game sponsors.
Contact to learn more.

Many rewarding volunteer roles are also available. Find out more at

5) Vote for Anne!

Anne Alderfer is the volunteer Director of FOTHNA's Kids on the Prairie program and is on the ballot for the Green Source DFW Sustainable Leadership awards Volunteer of the Year. Please take a minute and give Anne your vote here:

6) Prairies in a Changing World

Save the date. Fort Worth is the place to be for prairie lovers on May 29 - 31, 2014. Check out the State of the Prairie Conference.

7) Trout Lilli-putians

Small is beautiful at Tandy Hills in early March when the rare and beautiful Trout Lily blooms (we hope). Known as one of the harbingers of Spring, TL's are one of the signature wildflowers at Tandy Hills and a fascinating plant to learn about. Master Naturalists, Jim Varnum and Sam Kieschnick will lead a TL hunting expedition on Sunday, March 2nd from 1 - 3 P.M. Save the date.

Trout Lily: Blooming at Tandy Hills in early March.

8) Cool Cabin Fever

The Native American Seed Farm in Junction, Texas is an amazing place that is doing an amazing job helping restore our prairies. Set on a beautiful stretch of the Llano River, the farm is a model of sustainability in action. If you are in the area I highly recommend a visit and, if you can, an overnight stay at their Cool River Cabin. We recently spent a lovely night there under a canopy of stars not seen in Fort Worth for decades. The Neiman family is most hospitable and the rooms well appointed. Learn more here:

Native American Seed Farm: Where the wild and native things are.

Cool River Cabin at NAS in Junction, Texas.

9) Prairie Proverb

"I like this place and could easily waste my time in it."

William Shakespeare, As You Like It, 1599

Tandy Hills Natural Area: Winter, 2014

Prairie Notes© is the official newsletter of Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization. All content by Don Young except where otherwise noted.