LHF chicks are thriving in their new space complete with a roosting bar and fresh greens from the land. These little birds are growing fast; happily romping in this large play pen where they scratch about in the safety of an indoor corner of the garage. This building has brooded 4 years of chicks. In 2017, we hope to raise a second clutch later this spring.
Outside, the wilds are leafing out as busy American Robins work to carve out territory for another generation of brooding chicks of their own. Rarely, the trail cam captures these birds at work, and it’s a particular pleasure to see one in flight as shown below.
Many animals are already raising young as spring begins in earnest. This shy Coyote is out in daylight to find a meal for her pups. She’s good at avoiding the camera, offering only a glimpse of her profile as she doges away from the limelight. Most predators, from Canines to Corvids, start a family in late winter so that by the time their offspring is born, the rest of the wild animals are preparing nests and dens for babies which will make easy meals for a hungry brood elsewhere on the land.
This month, the trail cam caught some great footage of another resident cat at Leafhopper Farm. This female bobcat has been filmed in this very spot a few times over the years. She is much smaller than her Tom featured cashing the deer carcass in the back field last month. She comes here to hunt rabbit, another common capture on this trail cam situated on the west fence line below the pond. It’s always sobering to be reminded of just how close these predators are on the farm. We’re working to grow a nice hedgerow or two between her rabbit hunting ground and the field we graze goats and chickens in about twenty feet to the left of this frame. Note the large Red Alder pleach in the background. The tree is budding out again this year, along with several other cherry trees that were pleached a year ago.
With all the wildlife action in play around us, Leafhopper Farm is also excited to watch plants and seed take off from the soil in a race to grow and produce during our peak growing season. Along with the welcome return of perennial favorites like nettle and comfrey, established adversaries like blackberry and knot weed are also bursting forth with new life. It will be another summer of continued grazing by goats who have done a great job of managing our overpopulated invasives. The farm is really starting to see a reduction in blackberry, with renewed opportunity to plant in more native species of under-story plants like mock orange and evergreen huckleberry to diversify the forest floor. This multi-species endeavor will invite even more wildlife into the landscape, enriching all life here at Leafhopper Farm.