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February 10, 2010

Lonesome (and painful) Prairie

Desolate, isn't it? This is the home of the last remaining Attwater's Prairie Chickens. It's not all that hard to see why they are endangered after walking around in their habitat for a while. I imagine it's very difficult to convince eco-tourists to spend money to see a prairie.

H-pack went for a hike out here and didn't see any chickens, but we did see plenty of goatheads (Tribulus terrestris). You probably have some experience with those painful burrs if you grew up in Texas or the Southwest. When you look out over what looks to be a manicured lawn, but is really an unmanicured grassy area, you better look out. I remember getting all excited to go for a swim, putting on the swimsuit, taking off the shoes and running down the grassy beach at the lake house only to wind up with painful burrs covering my (and Anthony's) feet. Ouch! Always wear your shoes in the wild grasses down here. Seriously, if you don't know how painful these things are, I'll just say that they have punctured many a bicycle tire of mine and my feet are not nearly as tough as my tires.

I think the names of the burr say it all: puncture vine, caltrop (my fave), bull's head, and Texas sandbur. The worst part is that it's not even a native weed. It's the kind of illegal alien that I'd like to see removed. Apparently the terror pods were first brought to California in the hair of sheep and from there they went crazy.

Unfortunately the puppers don't have shoes and the Attwater Prairie was the worst hike we've ever been on. Jasper kept asking when we were going to get the chicken as we were pulling burr after burr from his tender pads. Dixie's little pointy feet were actually pretty resistant to the burrs, but when they got in her long fur, it was difficult to remove them. If you ever feel like trying to see a glimpse of one of these native Texan chickens, go for the chicken festival and leave the dogs at home.