New Year Update

Common Merganser

Our pond is back to hosting wildlife again after a stint of domestic ducks, and the female common merganser is an example of return species. By removing the pressure of domestic livestock from this sensitive bioregion, we allow wildlife a space to exist. This is often overlooked on farms, and more so in backyards where even a small oasis of green can be a haven for animals, especially birds.

The greenhouse is looking a little underutilized, and in need of fresh plastic. It’s about time for a redesign, and the honest truth is, I really am not taken by greenhouses, so it might just come down permanently while we focus on rewinding forests and tending the landscape which is already growing so much. I don’t need tomatoes every year, and I can’t put starts in here because the slugs get everything. In future, I would love to pair ducks in this environment seasonally to keep slugs down and heat in. I’d try a fall, winter, spring cycle, with ducks butchered before it gets too hot in summer. Another idea to cogitate on. We’ll see!

Pleachered cherries are growing strong, you can actually begin to see the natural fence developing. Many more trees will be pleachered this winter, and I must say that the bitter cherry is a superb candidate for this activity. They also put out a lot of suckers, so replanting offshoots is easy too. Birds love the fruit, and you can make jelly with them, if you add a lot of sugar. Blackberry is still trying to take over in this area, and it’s soo sensitive to brows down with goats, so we’ll spend some time hand removing, which is tedious, but not a forever thing. Once the larger plants establish and block out light to the understory, the blackberry will be unable to get a foot hold. In the mean time, pruning and diligent weeding will have to suffice.

Our cultivated turkey tail logs are flushing nicely, and really taking off through the wet months. I am so glad we can establish a thriving colony of this medicinal friend on the land, and hoping this strain will be here for years to come. I’m very happy with the productivity of these first logs, and look forward to more inoculation with this strain. It was interesting to see how much more productive the logs are on the ends up against another tree. This could be coincidence, but I think something about the moisture on the moss attracted them. It will be fun to keep watching the development of these logs as they continue to produce. I will try not to move these from this spot, accept to harvest. We’ll dry all the mushrooms and grind them to powder to make it very easy to extract their medicine using a decoction.

Our goats and sheep are tending the land for us with gusto, and you can see in this picture just how well they clip the grass by comparing the left side of the fence line (no animals) to the right side where the grazers and browsers have been working away at gleaning green growth, taking out tall grasses and blackberry with no hesitation. I love these fence line shots, and often use them to judge when it’s time to rotate animals. When the goats start going for the trees too much, we have to move them out to safe guard the bark of our arbor friends. A goat can girdle a tree very easily, which only happens when a space is overgrazed. Leafhopper Farm has avoided these devastating issues by keeping up a healthy rotation, and making sure the goats are given regular mineral blocks and good fodder.

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