View of South Field from Far South End (zoom)
This is a view looking back towards the central home fields of our farm from the stone wall dividing the south field from the far south field. I’m collecting pictures from this vantage point this year. It will be interesting watching the progression over the seasons. Each week I gather another shot to show how the fields are doing.
Same Field One Month Ago in Mid-May (zoom)
This is the same view one month earlier. The grass has come in. About a week ago we probably had our last snow of the spring. Last night it got down to 39°F. Today is another beautiful, warm sunny day. The plants like. The pigs like. I like.
Directly in front of us in this photo is the lane the animals use to access the far south field’s paddocks. It runs from our driveway where the lower whey tanks are south along the ‘strawberry level’, across the south field plateau, section three of the south field, passing through the stone wall behind me and then across the far south field to our southern log landing. We made this lane about 24′ wide at its narrowest so that I can drive the tractor down it skidding logs or bring big trucks along it in the future if needed for hay deliveries.
We’re about to setup a sub-division line that will split the lane lengthwise so the animals walk on only one thinner line of it at a time. They don’t need the full 24′ width. That way plants can grow in the other portion. Then we’ll switch them to the other side. Being so wide the lane makes an extra paddock which gets managed rotational grazing and protects the soil from excessive wear that one sees out in the woods where animals walk on game trails.
To the left of the lane’s fence line is the south field plateau which is the winter paddock for the livestock. Our daughter Hope and I just finished planting it with pumpkins, turnips, beets and sunflowers. These all grow well in our climate and are strong competitors so I don’t have to weed.
I took a risk and planted early with this warm weather. I may lose that seed, about a quarter of my store. If so we’ll have to replant. If the gamble pays off we’ll get about a month of extra growth which makes a big difference in our short growing season. In the late fall, after we collect seed, we’ll turn the livestock into this winter paddock. The pigs and other animals will eat up the vegetables, tubers and plants. This makes great fodder as the field forages diminish. Pumpkins are a good source of food and their seeds are one of the natural dewormers.
To the far left of the planted plateau and to right of the lane are more rotational grazing paddocks. We’re stock piling those right now and will turn the south herd into these paddocks when they’ve finished up with the far south pasture. That will be in the heat of summer when the animals will enjoy the shade provided by the aspen trees, locally known as poplar.
View from the Other End of the Valley Looking Back at Sugar Mountain (zoom)
Visitors find the fields and forest margins very picturesque. These margins and around them are where the life is most diverse. A decade ago these fields were woods. A hundred years ago those woods were fields. A bit over a hundred years before that settlers cleared the forest and built the first stone walls that I new repair. Long before that the land was open grass lands after the last glacial period. During the thousands of years of the last ice age the land was dead, buried beneath thousands of feet of ice.
Such are the cycles of life. Fields don’t remain without animals to graze them. When the sheep farmers left for the west the trees took back the land. Now I shift the margins back to the old stone walls once again. A game of tug-of-war between the forces of life, nature and physics.
We had an early spring and a gentle winter which was wonderful. There have been far worse years like in the mid-1990’s when it snowed here on the mountain every month of the year. We lost all our garden’s more sensitive plants. That happened again in the 2000’s. Things cycle. I remember that happening in the 1970’s and there are records of that happening in the 1800’s, 1600’s and 1500 which caused massive crop failures, starvation and migrations. Multiple years in a row of that use up the stored seed for both man and nature. We are a part of nature, a part of the working landscape. It is important to remember that and not to think of ourselves as outside of nature.
In times like that livestock and hunting made the difference between survival and starvation. A purely plant based diet is not viable or sustainable diets in our climate without supplements and long distance food transport – a fragile connivence of modern life that could be lost in a moment to natural or man-made disaster. Sure, native deer and moose are vegetarians, but they are specially adapted to eat bark, don’t try that at home, and they die off during brutal years. No thanks.
This year looks to be very nice indeed. A gentle winter, a warm spring with just the right amount of rain. Field lush with grasses and clover early in the season. Contrary to some alarmists these cycles of warming and cooling have happened before, both faster and slower than we’re seeing now. Recent human records show this for hundreds of years and the geological records show this going back for hundreds of millions of years.
Personally, I’ll take warming over cooling. Given a choice, I’m Pro-Global Warming. It is been during the periods of global cooling, the ice ages, that life has suffered, when we’ve had the worst extinctions. The glaciers killed everything in their path and shaved off the tops of the mountains in their relentless march. I see their foot prints in the rock by our cottage door. Warming periods have brought more life, diversity of species, more available land that was previously locked away under the frozen snows most or all of the year.
Unfortunately the alarmists are diverting attention away from the very real problem of pollution. Climate change is natural. Climate change is a fact. The real disaster is pollution, the toxins that are being spewed into our environment along with the unnatural, untested GMOs. People need to spend their effort not on turning the lights off for one feel-good hour a year, not on only picking up some trash on green-up day but on making a real difference by demanding GMO food labeling, buying locally, changing energy consumption year round and reducing pollution in real ways that will have a lasting positive impact.
Outdoors: 72°F/39°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 70°F/67°F
Daily Spark: I’m not an activist. I am just sometimes driven to act out.