Something Good in the Badlands

I think the Badlands have been given a bad rap. They are only called bad because they aren’t good for farming. Well, okay, they aren’t good for crossing over with a pioneer wagon either. And maybe the water is sometimes a bit too alkaline for people to drink. It’s possible that there might be a few snakes there. I suppose all but the toughest plants would do better somewhere else since there isn’t much in the way of soil.

Little to no soil allows more wind and water erosion, hence the fascinating shapes of the rocks. I’m intrigued by the many odd formations in the landscape. These two little towers stood out in an otherwise flat area.

Also, the faster erosion may account for the discovery of more fossils in this kind of landscape.

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In case you’re wondering, no, that white stuff isn’t snow.

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So many shapes!

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The farming, naturally, stops at the drop-off into the Badlands.

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Just when I thought there was nothing good about the Badlands, except the fascinating rock formations, I saw big ears perking up at the sound of people.

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These two mule deer alerted the third one that was behind the hill. Then the three of them bounded up the sidehill so easily. I’m sure they weren’t even breathing hard. I’ll think of them next time I’m on a Stairmaster.

Upon closer examination of the lower reaches of the valleys one can often find seeps, small pockets of water, surrounded by grasses and other lush vegetation providing food and habitat for a variety of species in what would otherwise be an inhospitable environment. In the sparse soil, I found fresh excavations of soil  dotting the ground. Most likely they were left there by ground squirrel colonies. Two of their major predators, badgers and coyotes, live nearby.

Here are some of the interesting plants I found. I wish I knew the names of them, but I don’t. Maybe some of my readers can help out here.

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This one with the huge burr must have had a flower at one time. Now it is just a menace to my poor dog who gets the burrs tangled in her fur and then suffers terribly when they chafe her.

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The burrs are very prickly and sharp to handle.

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These balls of cotton-like fluff pop out between the greenery of one of the few plants I know – the juniper with its blue berries.

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If we look more closely we can find beauty where we least expect it to be. Maybe the Badlands have something good about them after all.

30 thoughts on “Something Good in the Badlands

  1. Ah, yes. There is something good in everything, even the Badlands. Lovely clear pictures. Wish my camera took such non-blurry pictures. Maybe I wiggle too much. Safe travels.

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  2. Love these photos… i think no matter where you are or what they call the area, there must be something of beauty hidden there… those burrs look similar to one we get here.. it has multiple burrs on a plant and the sheep suffer badly when they get entangled in the wool…

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    • OH, these burrs would love sheep! We’ve cut Ruby’s coat back a lot while we’re out here, but still, she gets loaded in burrs and they love to tangle in her coat. Sheep’s wool would be just terrible for burrs.

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    • I know what you mean. This way, the animals have someplace left that`s untouched. One thing I must say though in favour of Montana farmers; they leave edge effect on their fields, so the animals have someplace to hide. In British Columbia (home for me) they cultivate right up to the edge and use up every square inch as if leaving a small corridor for animals would be a costly waste of land. The agricultural land in Montana is beautiful with trees and shrubs along ditches and edges of fields. Wildlife thrives here.

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      • That is really good to know, it’s always nice to see agricultural land managed with a bit of sensitivity to wildlife, it’s something I do a lot of work for in Wales, as so many others do around the world. I agree with you, it doesn’t seem necessary to cultivate every square inch of land, but then for some farmers its a matter of professional pride, which I can understand

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  3. Beautiful! I’d call it the Vastlands instead. Unless I had those burrs in my socks, and then I might go with Badlands. We have those fuzzy lollipop plants here as well, the ones that look too much like a ball of spiders. Can’t help with the name, though.

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  4. Lovely photos. We took a family vacation when I was a child to the badlands and black hills of South Dakota (Mt. Rushmore too). If you ask my family what was the best vacation they ever had as a family, they’d all say South Dakota. Looks great. Glad you’re enjoying your time there.

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