I wish I could make up my mind. Some mornings I come back from my walk-about fully energized and excited, sure that I've seen yet another sign that our back 5 acres is a prairie remnant, albeit an overgrazed one.
Then there are mornings (like this morning) when I come back discouraged, sure that all we have is an overgrazed pasture with a few prairie plants in it.
To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure why it makes a difference to me. It's actually just a matter of semantics...and perhaps an indicator of my day's mindset.
On the "overgrazed pasture" side: the predominant grasses are silver bluestem and smooth brome. There are lots of green antelopehorn milkweed, as well as quite a bit of yarrow, wavy-leafed thistle and ironweed. Foreign "invaders" and weedy species include (besides the brome) yellow sweetclover, foxtail, and windmill grass.
On the "overgrazed prairie remnant" side: 5 leadplants, 3 small patches of sideoats grama, quite a bit of buffalograss, 2 showy milkweeds, lots of wild alfalfa, multiple large patches of white prairie clover, a large area with quite a bit of prairie coneflower and black-eyed Susan, and a couple dozen dotted gayfeather plants. I'm not seeing any sign of big or little bluestem, Indian grass, or switchgrass, although it's certainly possible that I'm just missing them because they haven't headed out yet.
In the long run what matters is how the species composition changes. And on the positive side, I'm pretty sure we've had eastern meadowlarks and dickcissels nesting. I know we had a killdeer that nested, and I hear quail calling fairly frequently.
We'll just keep managing it to the best of our ability and see what happens. Meanwhile, maybe I'll start looking at it as my daily "mood-o-meter"!