When the cool autumn breeze begins to rustle the leaves of our ancient maple in the front garden of the farm, and Mother Nature turns her palate of green, into the vibrant colors of red, yellow, and orange. We pack a picnic hamper for a Shunpiker's adventure to Minneopa Park, 17 miles southwest of the home place.

It was here in 1858 Miner Porter built the winding walkways and stairs that we use even to this day. The word Minneopa in the language of the Sioux means "water falls twice" here in the middle of our prairie you will find the spectacular waterfall of Minneopa Creek. It drops and amazing 45 feet with a rumble and crash that echoes down the valley. There is no better place to come and watch our states fowl and fauna. Along the creek you can find Belted Kingfishers clattering and flashing up and down the waterway, stopping to dive into the water for a sparkling minnow, shimmering in the quiet pools.

As you walk along the river you will find gnawed felled trees. Vestiges left behind by the beaver's who are damning the water ways and making their winter homes. In the woodlands you will find the Pileated Woodpeckers carving out huge cavities in the dead trees in search of their dinner. Western and Eastern Meadowlarks are found through out the prairie, that the Sioux Indians named "Tinta-Inya-Ota" or prairie with many rocks.

The harmless Bull Snake and Garter Snake glide silently through the prairie grass, in search of insects and rodents. Shrikes a predatory song bird hunts for mice and grasshoppers in the wide open spaces, and fox squirrels scurry about putting up their winter stashes of acorns.

Much more can be found here as well, if you walk along the oak savanna between the burled oak trees and tall grasses. You can catch the Bluebirds darting about. Hidden in the short sunny grass of the prairie you can hear the tinkling songs of the Bobwhites, as evening falls, and the White tailed deer venture out in search of fresh leaves and grass. This is the prairie that our Great Grandfathers tamed and the Indians hunted. We enjoy our visit from year to year as it gives us great perspective on how wonderful this place we call home truly is.

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