Am feeling a bit lonely here on this blog and wondering if anyone is reading, if I’m wasting my time, or just talking to myself. The talking to myself thing isn’t really a problem, I’m rather used to it. Afterall I’ve been around men all my life. (ha!) But I’m just not feeling “the love”. If you are reading, please subscribe to the blog and let me know you are there. Thanks!
I’ve also been afraid I’m boring you, after all farms days don’t hold the excitement of a car chase or ambulance scene…at least hopefully not. I mean how exciting is it for me to say I mowed that lawn yesterday on the riding mower and “mannnnnn, I got so close to that tree, we don’t have to weed-eat around it!” In that regard, it is no different than in the suburbs. Lawns have to be mowed. The difference here is that this is the great North American rainforest (it really is) so mowing HAS to be done about every three days and, of course, there are five acres to be done rather than 1/4-1/2 acre. Our little John Deere gets a lot of miles.
So hopefully the whole rain forest thing has piqued your interest…”what do you mean rain forest, those are in Central and South America!” Think about it. If you come here from a dry state like California, it is obvious. Green is everywhere. If you live here and are a meticulous gardener, you know it too. Mulch may help keep down the weeds, but they would just as soon grow in that mulch as the soil it protects. A fence row, in due time, becomes its own mini forest. For us, that is a godsend. Sometime this summer, Mike will clear the fence rows around the farm a little with a chain saw and from that clearing we will get wood for next winter and logs for our shiitake mushrooms. He’s not even removing the trees, except the hackberry which is kind of a pest, just the larger limbs. Our fences are not the board and post fencing like on the horse farms around us. Most are quite old and made of wire and posts. In some respects, I like them better because of the growth that comes up around and in them, while the horse farms keep everything pristeen and lifeless.
Beautiful as they are, horse farms are not natural, and their fencing re-enforces that construct. Don’t get me wrong, horse farming is a super-big industry here and I have no complaints (or real knowledge) about their operations; however, if you stand at the top of the hill and look down on our little farm you’ll also see a number of horse farms. All have lush lawns, post and board fencing, extremely few trees (and those are fenced off from the horses) and stables. Our farm, is on undulating hills, obscured by trees with an occasional ‘bare spot’ which has been planted. The only lawns are those surrounding the houses and along the driveway. We look like the cluttered rental house on a block of upscale mansions whose properties are kept up by a paid gardener. Our place has become, intentionally, a wild life refruge. I counted forty wild turkeys “grazing” after Mike had the soybeans combined (harvested) last fall. A flock of between eight and twenty come within 50 ft of the house to munch the unsprouted sunflower seeds we planted last week. A family of deer regularly enjoys the newly mowed grass and loves the salt block Mike put out for them as well as the apples on the trees we’ve pretty-much allocated for their enjoyment. Racoons, opposums, rabbits, chipmunks, ground hogs,… you name it enjoy the land too. All but the coyotes are welcome…and well, they are welcome so long as they are away from the house and the cats.
Only rarely is a hunter allowed on the property and then it’s because a group has become too populous or troublesome. Last fall, for example, racoons were desimating the sweet corn grown for market. Some ‘killers’ were called to help, but went away empty handed. Mike put up electric fencing to keep the raccons out, but they persisted. Finally, he put out “cat traps” loaded with cheap mackerel and hauled five of the critters away to a new home elsewhere. No raccoons, nor Mike, were injured in the process.
This is the delight of a family-owned farm. We’re not retirement-aged hippies living a whole back to nature dream. This is a business. A business in which the beauty that surrounds us is as important as our profit, and we can control our little environment, only so far as Mother Nature allows. One day, it may be people like ourselves that preserve the real countryside for future generations.