Spring is the time of re-birth. While the weather warms, the native plants pop up, and the critters are out and about on the farm. We are welcoming these species as we beginning to learn how to work with them, and how they benefit the farm.
Last season we started a major permaculture project with Resilient Spirals. This project included installation of water features, perennial gardens and fruiting trees and bushes among many other things. There are many objectives for why a farm might take on a project like this. Although there are several reason we began working with Resilient Spirals, one of the principal reasons was to add more diversity to our farm. Keep in mind diversity doesn't begin and end with perennial gardens and cultivated plants. It's very much about attracting more species of the fuzzy and non-fuzzy variety. Although it's still a little chilly for the bugs (non-fuzzy's), we are already getting our first taste of the diversity we are creating.
As of late one of our freshly dug water features has become home to a nutria (pictured here). Nutria's also known as swamp rats, live in areas with fresh water. These mammals are native to South America, and were introduced to the United states between 1870-1930. Before we implemented these water features we had never seen this species on the farm. In fact we didn't even know what it was before it made a home here! As we shift into summer, this nutria will get to work, eating bugs and managing the aquatic plants and roots native to the shores it lives on.
As we've watch the ecosystem continue to diversify we have welcomed geese, mallards, kill deer, and sand hill cranes. With the farm being on very low land prone to flooding in the wetter months, it is no surprise these water birds are attracted to this ecosystem. You might think these birds bring little benefit to a farm, but in-fact they do their part. Geese and mallards are both mainly vegetarians, grazing on weeds in the early season. Mallards, geese, sand hill cranes, and kill deer chip in on the pest control, and we are happy to have them! There are a lot of bugs out there and we could really use all the help we can get.
Being that it is still early in the season this is only the beginning of the diversity to come. Watching this ecosystem unfold is fascinating. It feels like every living thing has a purpose here. Even us humans. Working alongside mother nature to produce food for our community.