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Prairie Reserve


After decades of crop farming, it was time to let the land rest.  To us the land (it's soil, flora, and wildlife) is extremely important.  It is our heritage and with all hopes our legacy to future generations.  It was obvious the years of crop farming took it's toll on the land.  Stripping the soil of nutrients and leaving the land without a root system year after year, our heritage land became highly erodible and dead of nutrients. 

To add further damage, in 2004, the natural rolling farmland all along our east was graded down lower than our land, in some spots up to 20 feet below, to develope a subdivision.  This disregard for the natural lay of the land in turn cause our farmland to rut out in a matter of years to create a new waterway to the creek located in the middle of the subdivision, almost dividing our farm into two for the first time in over 150 years.   We ask for help from one of the developers of the Wynrose Estate, Rusty Wessel, to help us stop the effects of the soil loss by asking him to put up erosion control devices along the subdivision side of the property but, of course, he refused. In the worse places we allow trees and brushes to grow.  We planted grasses in the new rutted waterways but they still grew as the years passed.  All this was proof that subdivisions destroy the land in addition destroying natural wildlife habitat.

erosion prior to 2005   Erosion in 2012










The first picture above is Old Oak Estate Farm prior to 2005 and the second was taken in 2012.  The effects of the subdivision on our East has cause significant damage to say the least.


In beginning of 2013, it was decide to take this piece of farmland and convert it to all to grasses and develop a total farm root system.  Many months were spent in research on our options from alley cropping to forestry to pastureland.  All had their pros and cons.

We contacted the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for further guidance and in turn they forwarded us to the United States Department of Agriculture.  After many more months of emails, office visits, and telephone calls it was clear that the best option, out of all that were looked at, was to enter into a CPR (Conservation Reserve Program) and give our heritage farmland at much need rest and salvation. 

The local USDA Farm Bureau sat us down and explained the program and the hard work that would be expected of us not to mention the initial monetary investment to get the prairie started.  We sign the contact in June of 2013 and in Spring of 2014 we seeded just over 23 acres of native Illinois prairie grasses.  Knowing that this farmland was, historically, once a native prairieland, we knew this investment into our soil was a natural choice and that this was going to be successful endeavor.

We were honored to replant some native Illinois prairie grasses here again.  Those grasses were:


The greater benefit to creating a Conservation Prairie Reserve is the natural wildlife habitat we have created.  Our prairie will have a direct impact to the following wildlife.



  • Bobwhite Quail
  • Eastern Bluebirds
  • Ring-Neck Phesants
  • Swallows
  • Brown and Black Bats
  • Screech and Barn Owls
  • Red-tail Hawks
  • Odonatas (Dragonflies/Damselflies)
  • Grasshoppers


Field/Grass Prey:

  • Cottontail Rabbits
  • Field Mice/Voles
  • White-tail Deer


Field/Grass Predators:

  • Coyotes
  • Red Foxes
  • Praying Mantis





The Horsehouse

Growing Up Heirlooms

Conservation Programmes