“Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again as if by magic; but destroy our farms and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country.” William Jennings Bryan

Monday, September 30, 2013

September 30, 2013

Sometime in late June I stop mowing the small field behind the house and simply let nature take its course.

At first the grasses just grow high while the sedges surge even higher and tower like little skyscrapers over all else. Throughout July it ages and looks like a chaotic mess of weeds and bent over grasses, which would send most other people to the Home Depot for a cart full of tasty herbicides and a new riding mower. But I just let it go…

…and by September, as if it happened in a single moment, the field explodes in white with heath aster, a native, woody, wildflower. It grows not just in the field, but along the fence rows, the wood lines, and almost anywhere that isn’t kept mowed.

Its hard to track all the insects that I find on its flowers, or hiding in its canopy – grass hoppers, moths and butterflies, praying mantis, native bees including the mason and bumble bees, and its hugely popular with my honey bees. At times, the entire plant is softly shaking with the traffic of so many insects visiting it at one time. The other evening on one plant I stopped trying to count the honey bees that were flying from flower to flower as there were just too many.

As I had written last spring, I think that too many fields and wild areas are gone, cut down, or sprayed to death, and for those reasons there are not enough wild flowers to support healthy populations of honey bees, native pollinators, or the hundreds of other insect species that rely on pollen and/or nectar for food. I have to wonder where all these insects that are visiting these asters would go to feed or hunt if I had cut them all down to keep “appearances”. I think they just wouldn’t be, or at least, there wouldn’t be as many.

And then I wonder, how many more insects could be sustained if I had given my whole property over to nature? It comes down to the point that doing anything, even just a little, is better than doing nothing at all.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

September 8, 2013

Fall is coming…each morning as I walk out to the stable, I see that Orion has inched up over the eastern tree line just a bit more. The horses and goats are growing out thicker coats, getting ready for cooler days. Sour gums are showing small, hanging berries and red leaves, and the sassafras leaves are turning yellow at the lobes. Evening’s light is growing shorter, while the morning’s darkness lingers on long past my awakening.

I love this time of year. It’s all of subtle changes….and it brings sentimentality to the summers end and I think back…

A fallow year on the farm…Lou’s eye and Lymes disease…seven new chicks…harvesting honey…bluebirds and grackles…rain, and more rain…mud…digging potatoes…broken ribs…Martha.…strawberries…poison ivy and chiggers… baby sitting a friend’s chicken flock…pulling garlic…first time riding English style, leaving my western boots at home…Lou ambling over to hang his head on my shoulder, as close to a hug as can be…waiting for Cherokee Purples to ripen…discovering the Stable Song by Gregory Alan Isakov, a farmer/ musician…Zero 7…Margot….our vet, Tanya, coming to the barn at 11pm for Lou, more than once…Paddy waiting for me at the fence corner each morning…losing my religion…peas and eggplants out growing the hoop house…first summer without any kids at home…a rained out concert…letting the  back yard grow into a meadow…watching kids that visited touch a horses nose for the first time…Topsy…Zip running laps in the pasture, kicking his heels at the wind…friends who showed up just  when I needed to break out of my silence.

Overall, it was a good summer, but I am looking forward to fall’s slower pace and maybe, if I am lucky, napping in the hammock for an afternoon.