A hedgerow is an area of closely-spaced shrubs, trees, weeds, and wildflowers.  It forms a barrier on our farm and helps protect crops and livestock from bad weather conditions such as high winds.  Wildlife can find four basic needs in the hedgerow: food, water, cover and space.

Station #1:  Fallen Dead Tree
Even though this tree has died, it continues to be part of life in nature.  Birds use it for perching, foraging, and nesting.  Small animals find shelter from the environment and from predators.  Insects feed on the decaying organic matter.

Station #2:  Weed Seeds
This section of the trail is meant to help you discover how plants survive and spread.  While on your walk, have you noticed any seeds clinging to your clothes?  If yes, what does this tell you about how some seeds are spread?  Does burdock remind you of anything that might be part of your clothes, a backpack, or sneakers?  Did you think of Velcro?  Inventors imitate nature!  Find grasses.  Shake their stems.  Notice what happens to the seeds.  What does this tell you about the way grass and other seeds spread?  How can birds and animals spread seeds?  Answers might include the following:  Seeds spread by sticking to the fur of birds and animals, by the wind, by bird droppings, and by animal waste (e.g. deer).

Station #3:  Carbon Cycle
“What goes around, goes around, goes around; comes all the way back around”, song words by Justin Timberlake.

The carbon cycle is the continuous process by which carbon is exchanged between organisms and the environment.  Carbon dioxide is absorbed from the atmosphere by plants and algae and converted into carbohydrates by photosynthesis.  Carbon is then passed into the food chain and returned to the atmosphere by respiration and decay of animals, plants, and other organisms.  (The burning of fossil fuels also releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.)

Station #4:  Deer Station
Deer are among the wildlife that use the hedgerow for food.  Grassy areas can provide a soft bed for a deer’s sleep at night.  It, also, provides grassy areas as a safe corridor for movement.  Check the area at this station for any evidence.  Look for a path that may have been made by deer.  If there has been a recent rain, are there any deer tracks in the soil?  Of course, during winter, looking for tracks would be easy after a snowfall.

Station #5:  Milk Weeds
Milkweed is an important food for monarch butterflies and it provides nectar for bees.  The stem and all of its parts produce white latex when broken.  You are what you eat!  Monarchs use the milkweed plant as an important food source for larvae.

How do milkweed plants spread?  The milkweed flowers are pinkish-purple clusters.  The fruits of the plant are green pods which turn brown before bursting open to let out fluffy seeds.  They are spread by the wind which catches the fluffy parts and sends the seeds long distances.  (What stage are you currently observing?)  Milkweeds are also spread by underground roots called rhizomes that grow horizontally and produce new roots and shoots.

Station #6:  Rest, Look And Listen
A place to use your senses to hear, smell, see, and share the wonders of the hedgerow.

Station #7:  Black Walnut Tree
The black walnut tree provides food for deer, woodpeckers and squirrels.  Walnuts are also used in cakes, cookies, and ice cream.  The wood is used to produce expensive furniture.  The hulls from the fruit have a substance called tannin.  It is used to dye leather and fabric.

Activity:  Use the tape to measure the distance around the trunk on the painted ring.  Measure the distance from the ground to the painted rim.  If you return next year, do you think either of the measurements will change?

Station #8:  Old Fruit Tree

  1. What kind of fruit tree is this? Can you see another one nearby?
  2. Can you find a large cavity in the tree? Who might use it? For what?
  3. On the trunk of the tree, try and find a row of small holes.  How do you think those holes got there?

Answers: 

  1. Mostly-dead Baldwin apple tree.
  2. The cavity might be a habitat for animals such as raccoons or squirrels.
  3. The holes were made by a yellow-bellied sapsucker. Maybe you will see her.  She is off-white and black with a red crown and throat.