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:Â I needed new glasses.Â
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 sheepâ€™s fence.Â
A delicate, electric-blue damselfly perched on a salmonberry leaf.Â Tiny wasps and hover flies darted around my blossoming winter savory.Â Burly golden and black bumblebees buzzed the butterfly bush.Â
These are just a few of the mind-boggling array of arthropodsâ€”invertebrate animals with external skeletons, including spiders and insectsâ€”that make their home on our farm and fill me with wonder (or in the case of garden pests, extreme frustration).Â Check outÂ Martokâ€™s blogs for more bugs, too.
I think our farmâ€™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.Â
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.Â
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.Â
I wonder what grows on your farm?