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Jeff Lampe
Jeff Lampe

Jeff Lampe has been outdoor writer at the Journal Star in Peoria for 12 duck seasons. He lives in Elmwood with his wife Monica, sons Henry, Victor and Walter, and Llewellin setter Hawkeye. A native of Buffalo, N.Y., he is an avid fan of the Bills and still has mental scars from four consecutive Super Bowl losses. Outside of hunting and fishing, Lampe's main passion in Illinois was Class A boys basketball (which sadly no longer exists). Former publisher of the Class A Weekly newsletter, Lampe is a co-author of "100 Years of Madness" and "Classical Madness," both books focusing on prep basketball in Illinois.

Illinois Outdoors


A Web log by Jeff Lampe of the Journal Star

Illinois hunting and fishing

June 4: Picture of the Day

June 04, 2010 at 09:10 AM

After two straight days of less-than-stellar photos, I woke with a plan and left home in search of meadowlarks, baby rabbits or a picturesque unmowed ditch.

Turns out I was able to find all three elements in the same place, plus the bonus bobwhite above. No coincidence that. As I stopped to take pictures of the grassy ditch along a Peoria County gravel road, a quail whistled in the distance. That’s not unusual, since we have a decent population around Elmwood. Seeing those whistling bobwhites is another matter, though. Just doesn’t happen very often when you have a camera in hand and need a picture. So I’m very thankful to this fellow for popping up onto a gate and letting me take a few pictures before we flew off into a corn field nearby.

I’m also glad to see all the shaggy ditches around. Sadly, they won’t last for long. The last of the beans are in for most farmers and the next phase of agriculture around here is mowing. That will spell an end to many bobwhites, baby rabbits and other critters. And why? Don’t say weed control. Farm fields are sprayed with enough chemicals to keep the weeds under control. And spot-spraying noxious weeds that might crop up would take less time than all the mowing. It would save lots of critters, too.

Nope. The real reason for mowing is boredom and the misplaced idea that a clean-shaven ditch is more appealing. That mentality is a hard one to change.

Guess I’d better get that ditch picture soon, since they won’t be shaggy for long.

Your CommentsComments :: Guidelines :: Report a problem

I can’t stand Recreational Mowing.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 06/04 at 11:32 AM

It is like the people who live in the country and mow acres of yard. It makes me sick. Besides what it does for the robins it makes the habitat akin to a desert. I think a misplaced fear of critters has alot to do with it too. Mow around the intersections and leave the rest alone. Between Taylorville and Pana they have planted native grasses along the highway. It is neat to see the different flowers bloom, and it provides some nice habitat for the wildlife. It looks alot nicer than the ugly fescue too. I think maybe us sportsmen ought to lobby the state for a change in how things are done.

Posted by illin on 06/04 at 07:31 PM

Lampe and Illin, who do you think you are to give farmers grief for mowing ditches that they own? A mowed ditch looks a heck of a lot nicer than a grown up field edge, and it actually does minimize the spread of weeds that may creep into the crops. Spot Spray??? You want to a farmer who farms 2,000 acres to drive around each week looking for that overgrown weed that maybe is creeping into his field??? Cmon Dude!!!!!! Get outta the city

And Illin, if you can’t stand people who live in the country and mow acres, then why don’t you donate your little 200x250 lot and let it all grow up and look like crap? It would save some wildlife, right?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 06/06 at 04:54 PM

For The Kids- Who do you think you are to give me grief? I can have an opinion just as much as you can. And if more of us speak out then maybe opinions will change on what actually does look better. Mowed ditches and huge yards do not look good to me. They look like a desert. So you can have your opinion and I will have mine. Now run along and turn our creeks into ditches, rip out some fencelines, and mow any hint of prairie. It’s your property. I wish I could have seen Illinois before Big Ag took over.

Posted by illin on 06/07 at 08:02 AM

People actually mow their ditches and waterways because it makes them look nicer!?!?  Who are they trying to impress??  That’s like a rural version of the city people who buy Coach purses and $200 jeans!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 06/07 at 08:10 AM

The real reason farmers mow their ditches is to allow field runoff to drain. Tall grass will act as a wall during periods of high rain and the runoff will actually erode the edge where the field meets the ditch rather than flow into the ditch as intended. Without this mowing practice, siltation problems would be much worse in all of out creeks and rivers.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 06/07 at 10:41 AM

Illin, All I was stating was who made you dictator that you want to control who mows who’s roadsides and you want the state legislature to get involved with farmers maintaining their ditches. Its idiotic really.

Why dont you let your lawn grow up into tall grasses for the birds to chirp?  Its probably because you own your lawn, much like farmers own their roadside ditches, and they want their property to look nice, just like you do your own!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 06/07 at 12:34 PM

For The Kids- When I was talking about the state changing the way things are done I was talking about State/County Mowing. There is no reason our tax dollars go to make roadsides look better, because looking better is relative. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The state could also do some sort of educational campaign to teach the farmers the benefits of not mowing. I did not mean that mowing should be illegal, it should just be discouraged. And if I could get away with turning a portion of my yard into native grasses without getting fined for having grass over 8” tall I would.

Posted by illin on 06/07 at 03:13 PM

At the very least it would be nice to to see ditches remain grassy until Aug. 1. That gives critters a chance to nest. And I don’t buy the idea that farmers need to mow ditches along roadsides to improve drainage. That’s not why it’s done.

Posted by Jeff Lampe on 06/07 at 03:28 PM

Jeff, it’s more the waterways within the fields for drainage purposes, and even at that, it’s just the edges. I agree with you it’d be nice to see them not mowed.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 06/08 at 09:15 AM
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