Sunny Paradise

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Well, our wet winter is taking a break as the typical December high pressure system moves in to give us a reminder of why The Pacific Northwest is such a beautiful place. This panorama above was taken looking northeast from near the flint napping pit (blue tarp). The morning fog was finally burning off to reveal a sapphire sky.

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As the morning light filtered through our evergreen forests, the beauty of frost melting into glistening pearls of delicate damp. The goats were out in force with the sun taking advantage of the good weather to clear out some more blackberry. This winter will be the last chance to heavily graze within the future stream buffer fence line. Next fall, if Leafhopper Farm is awarded the CREP grant, we’ll have the entire stream buffer area cleared of blackberry and replanted through federal funding from USDA. After the plantings are established, the goats will be persona-non-grate.

This well deserved sun time ushers in a very busy work period on the land mostly focused around transplanting and tree felling. As part of the farm’s Forest Stewardship Plan, many of our 15-20 year old red alders Alnus rubra are crowded, and because of there lifespan, already reached crown height maximum and are now dying back as they shade each other out. To hasten their secession, I’ve taken the saw into my forest and begun felling in an upper grove to open up canopy space. The native plants purchased from Tadpole Haven are going in to diversify and “beef up” the under-story. I’ll also be transplanting other native plants from the nursery such as our native roses like Rosa nutkana.

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Today I also moved all the cardboard (it filled the back of the truck completely and towered over the back window too). This biomass was distributed in the freshly transplanted areas where alder have already been removed. The logs will be inoculated with mycelia for mushroom cultivation and then put back in the environment where they were harvested to replenish the landscape as they decompose. The cardboard mulch will keep back bramble re-establishing in the planted areas while boosting nutrients and the possibility of mycelia spreading along the breaking down boxes. It’s like rolling out a red carpet to the mushrooms!

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Across the pasture, our layer flock of lovely hens is hard at work in another bramble patch. Here I spread some scratch feed to encourage their earthworks. The lovely light pouring through a cedar grove in the background is another storybook vision. I expect to see faeries and gnomes dancing together in the woods beyond. Though winter is starting to set in with cold dark nights and gray days, the sun does occasionally make her self known and when she shines, all of Western Washington is alight. It is great to be working on the land rain or shine, but admittedly, it’s a heck of a lot more enjoyable when the weather is mild and clear.  Thank you sun!

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