Mar

26
2014

Nature on a farm

Marissa     General         1    

Sorry I’ve not updated the blog in a bit. I’ve been busy keeping the facebook page full of fun and interesting things (I hope…). If you haven’t “liked” us, do so and get daily updates of the goings on around here.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how the farm fits in the natural world. We are currently interviewing people to come and live here and many of them have commented how they want to “get back to nature” or “live in nature”. This is all well and good but sometimes I think people that don’t farm are missing the point. Much of farming is about manipulating nature or even controlling nature. Growing crops is a prime example. You plant one thing and want just that one thing to grow. But even animal husbandry controls nature – fenced pastures, discing fields, harvesting hay. These are not necessarily bad ways of dealing with nature, it’s just simply not the plain and simple natural world.

Fortunately, we run an “organic” farm (not certified but follow the spirit of the law – above and beyond the letter!). That means that even though we are controlling the natural world around us, we also let it thrive when it doesn’t interfere in what we do. Our farm is 40 acres and only 5 acres of it are truly part of the active farm. Most of that is in animal pastures and the rest the garden and orchard. Our pastures include as many trees as were here when we bought the property. Animals need shade and the trees are part of the whole ecosystem. That’s the important part of sustainable farming – thriving ecosystems. The first few years here were somewhat barren compared to the creatures we have now running around the farm.

Recently while spending time in the goat pen, my nearly 2 year old starting saying “Hi, Rabbit!” We have a goat named Rabbit so I thought it was cute that she finally learned their names until I noticed she was peaking under the stair-step play area for the goats. Sure enough, there was a rabbit under there! Instead of trapping/shooting/killing the rabbit (which loves to eat the pea shoots in the garden…), I decided to encourage him to stay in the goat area and leave the garden alone. We’ve put some alfalfa and grain around the area and the rabbit continues to return to that spot to shelter during the day. We can get within a foot of him and he doesn’t seem to mind. And we haven’t lost any pea shoots in about a week!

Rabbit in the goat pen

Animals aren’t the only thing though. The woods surrounding the farmed section of our land provide excellent habitat for creatures that benefit us in many ways. Not only do they house birds that eat insects, snakes that eat rats and other good predators, but the woods can provide an escape into an even more natural setting. As well even provide us with food sometimes! We have wild mustang grapes, dewberries and prickly pear fruits. And lots and lots of firewood. And check out the cool bark on this hackberry tree!

bark

So farming and nature can go hand and hand as long as you keep each one in perspective. Big “fence row to fence row” farms don’t have the natural world around them to support a thriving ecosystem. But you still must control and manipulate what is going on in the natural world to get the product you want.


1 comment

  • Wayne said:

    Mar 27, 2014 10:35 am

    Added much to my understanding of how consciously thought out your balance of nature and goals for the farm fit into the big picture. Thanks!