And that’s where the panic sets
in. Neither one of us has ever OWNED a place that could provide
for us almost completely. And how to accomplish our goal of a
sustainable, flourishing farm has as many answers as folks with an
opinion to offer. So, we are calling in the ‘experts’, gathering
all the information, deciding what makes the most sense to us, and will
do what seems the best for our speck of Earth.
Our first expert was Julie, District
Conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Julie
met us out at the property one afternoon and walked over it with us. She
spent almost two hours going from one end of the land to the other. And
she does this for FREE, through the courtesy of our tax dollars.
Something tangibly useful. How cool is THAT?
Seeing the spring-fed branch that meanders across
the place, she gazed at it a moment - running clear when most creeks much
larger are dusty channels and even some huge lakes have disappeared in
the drought, and quietly commented, “That right there is a Gift.” When I
expressed a desire to have a pond dug out in a bend of the branch, she
said that altering a named branch in any way is not allowed without a
mass of permits, a barrowful of cash, and the invitation of the A.C.E. into
your immediate family. She offered ideas to pump water up out of
the branch with the help of a ram pump for the livestock, or we
could just let our resident beavers keep building the dam they’ve been
working on and we’ll have our pond. Go beavers!
She told us to wait to do water and soil samples
till February, since the drought is affecting the results of both types
of tests - everything is so darn dry the readings are all skewed.
Hopefully we’ll be recovered in the rainfall department some by then.
Her recommendation is to plant one of a variety of
hybrid Bermuda grasses in both the pasture and the hayfield this
February. Then, in the fall sow a winter grain, like rye, in the pasture to
provide graze through spring, and clover in the hayfield as a green
When I asked about native plants to introduce on
the creek banks to hold soil against erosion, she said just don’t cut
the trees on the bank and the roots will keep the soil. Unfortunately, a
lot of our trees’ roots are becoming exposed and the trees are leaning
across the creek trying their best to hang onto that dirt. It seems to
me that there are smaller plants that could help the trees...
A totally unexpected piece of information that
Julie provided to me regarded the electric poles (small single wooden
ones, not the big multi-wired metal monsters) that march through our
wetland area and across part of the front of the property. I need to
call the electric company ASAP because they come out in helicopters and
drop defoliation chemicals to keep the area under the poles clear.
Considering the spring activity in the wetland and the proximity of the
creek to the front of the property I see this as B-A-D. She told me her
husband works for the electric company and if I call them and promise to
keep the area under the wires mowed, they will come out and flag the
boundaries of our place, keeping the helicopters away.