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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Farm Biodiversity, Part 3

Cherie Langlois
Hobby Farms Contributing Editor

A bee going to a thimbleberry blossom
Photos by Cherie Langlois

Bumblebee flying to thimbleberry blossom.

Last summer, after much squinting to make out the smaller print in magazines and books, and much denial about how the ruthless passage of time was again messing with my once-accute vision, it finally dawned on me: I needed new glasses. 

A trip to the eye doctor netted me a new pair within a few weeks, and the next morning I put on my glasses and wandered outside to find the world in beautifully clear focus.

And what a buggy world I found!

Hundreds of garden spider hatchlings, each about the size of a pin head, clustered in a gauzy web on the sheep’s fence. 

A damselfly on a leaf
A delicate, electric-blue damselfly perched on a salmonberry leaf.  Tiny wasps and hover flies darted around my blossoming winter savory.  Burly golden and black bumblebees buzzed the butterfly bush. 

These are just a few of the mind-boggling array of arthropods—invertebrate animals with external skeletons, including spiders and insects—that make their home on our farm and fill me with wonder (or in the case of garden pests, extreme frustration).  Check out Martok’s blogs for more bugs, too.

I think our farm’s diversity of arthropods has much to do with our organic farming practices (i.e. no chemical pesticides, herbicides) and the rich diversity of native/introduced plants growing in our woodlot (part wetland during winter and spring), hedgerows, pastures, and garden. 

Our farm flora includes pretty wildflowers like trillium and wild rose, edible herbs such as stinging nettle and dandelion, bird-luring thimbleberries and red huckleberries, towering Douglas fir and cottonwood, and many others. 

Not only does all of this greenery provide food and shelter for the living creatures on our farm (including us), it also offers my family and I gifts of cooling shade, serene beauty and country-fresh fragrances. 

I wonder what grows on your farm?

~  Cherie 

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Farm Biodiversity, Part 3

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Reader Comments
I just got bi-focals for the first time--still getting used to them!
Tammy, Livingston, TX
Posted: 11/23/2010 7:22:07 AM
We grow rocks here on our farm, too, Martok. They came from a big glacier, I think.

Christine--sorry to hear you need glasses, too. For me, it's been the most frustrating part of this whole getting older bit so far!
Cherie, Graham, WA
Posted: 8/20/2010 11:49:21 AM
Rocks, mostly. That's what Mom said last week when she picked up another big garden cart full in our buck run. She also picks sharp rocks out of the Boers' dust bath spots and there are new ones every day. Where do they come from? We don't know!
~ Martok
Martok, Mammoth Spring, AR
Posted: 8/19/2010 9:47:08 AM
I'm not sure what grows on my farm. I need glasses too!
christine, st augustine, FL
Posted: 8/19/2010 1:43:26 AM
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