Thoughts on visitors

Hello Visitor!

The Nancy Place has had more wild visitors each year, and this year is no exception. New this year is a family of porcupines and a young moose, as well as some new birds to our feeders. This has left us wondering about how to continue to develop our gardens and perennial species, as well as work with farm animals, without beginning the usual war games. How do we integrate ourselves into this wooded environment? How does "farm" fit into nature? Can it? Can the principals of permaculture give us the answers?  We are striving to be a part of "here"; to find a natural flowing co-existance-- and, as much as possible, a "blended" existence. How, exactly to do this while avoiding damage to our carefully cultivated beds, poultry flocks, or property is the question. We'll welcome any input you have!

Permaculturally, we're not fully there yet. We had to disturb a lot of the soil again this year, again hoping that this is the last time. We knew some of our terraces weren't yet smoothed correctly and that we'd have to begin again with soil building. Still, some aspects of our goals are starting to thrive. We've developed enough topsoil through our raising of animals that we now have lots of grasses and weeds growing-- enough to feed the goats and bunnies. Laura and Rocky, farm stewards, are working hard to build up with compost and mulches. It takes time, but even as we watch things grow well this year, we know that next year things will be even better. Despite my following complaints, we are pleased to see the natural animal diversity increasing. These are all good signs that we are fitting in with nature instead of fighting mightily against it. Many perennial additions are taking off and we now have our first fruits emerging. Plans for water harvesting and continued sheet mulching are underway and we have ducks, bats, dragonflies, songbirds, & sometimes wild turkeys (as well as Laura) all working to reduce pests.

We are always watching; observing. There is no question that mostly the visiting wildlife has damaged the farm. The fox steals the chickens and a favorite duck, the turtle damages the row cover and digs up a few cucumber plants, the porcupine has destroyed the blackberry patch and the soybeans, the bear ripped the wire on the chicken tractor, the deer eat the beans, the hawks hunt the poultry. . . don't get me started on the mice and insects. Still, we strive to use little intervention. . . and we use prevention strategies first and foremost. The fencing surrounding the property has thwarted the fox and deer, the turtles are forgiven for their quick seasonal intrusion, the bear is deterred by moving the tractor (with the precious grain) away from the wooded area. Truthfully, the aggravation is really just a part of it all. We wouldn't trade it for a sterile, electric fenced, poisoned farmland.

But, the most recent animal visitor is tricky. Porcupines.
Pictured here in a blackberry patch near the property

Research says that they'll stay in an area until its depleted of food supply. They eat everything and particularly love salty things (like tool handles, rich with salty sweat) and apparently love our soybeans and blackberries. When fixing the fence was no deterrent, we covered the beans-- that has worked. We now have cleared out the tall grasses near the blackberries so its less protected (more exposed) and we'll see-- wait, watch.  Hopefully Rocky & Laura won't be making porcupine stew as their next adventure on the farm, although I suppose that this, too, would be a part of nature's grand give and take.

See you soon, buddy!