Nature’s Forces

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A rainbow graced the farm with her bright colors after heavy rains changed the landscape again forever. My previous posts about hydrology are worth looking through to see how much change comes when water moves through. Weiss Creek crested like never before since I’ve been on the land, but older signs around the banks say the water has been much higher. Look closely at the next few photos to recognize the subtle and not so subtle changes in stream bed.

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average winter flow

At peak flood, the churning waters move anything in their path, even white rock, the large glacial erratic boulder, was compelled into the frey.

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peak flood stage

Now a one tone rock sits in the stream, waiting for the next big one to push it over the falls.

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current flow pattern

Note the erosion around the large stone which now exists, this movement is happening on a microscopic scale all over the land where water moves particulates. This active world carries matter through rivers, lakes, and streams, but also into the soil its self, releasing nutrients for the plants and microbiology of the ground.

Moving the animals around the landscape invites even more rich biomass into the soil, but some of that nitrogen rich poo does still move on down the hillside towards the stream. This is why buffers are so important. Our setback from the stream is a minimal of 25 feet, but I’m giving the wild water a good 100 on both banks. This helps keep the rich nitrogen from getting into the water and contaminating a delicate chemical balance.

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chickens in the field

During floods, lots of pollution gets into our water ways. A warning went out in Western Washington about not swimming in Puget Sound during the floods because raw sewage was leaking into the sound. This is typical of our treatment plants when they are overwhelmed by hydrological events. Water is a force of nature, and compelling to any and all swept up in its path. Fields create more vulnerability by taking away the forest canopy and understory, which diffuse water as it falls from the sky, and among the roots and duff on the forest floor.

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young white pine

Leafhopper Farm is working to reforest the back field where exposure to the sky has allowed continual rain to drain the soil of its nutrients and sun to bake away health and diversity of plants. Next door, to the east, where the forest has been allowed to grow back, there is far less erosion and much greater biodiversity. So, planting continues.

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In the back field right now, there are a few tree islands which do offer some shelter and diversity, but they need to expand out more. Since wildlife has a strong presence in the back field, we’ve pulled our domestic livestock out of the area for now to avoid predation. The focus will be reforesting the space, with a focus on agro-forestry, to produce food and materials from the species we select and encourage. It will not be a fully native forest, but mimicking similar principal of conservation and diversification.

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tree islands in back field

The goal of reforesting is a multi generational project, and will not be fully realized in my lifetime. I’m ok with that, and happy to be the first to move in that direction for the plants, the soil, animals (including us), and the waters.

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