Finding a Balance
Nature both irritates and delights us as we go about our work. Snapping turtles lay their eggs in the soft soil of our gardens, uprooting seedlings in the process. Black flies swarm around us as we plant seeds or tend goats.
The deer ate off our fall cover crops until we put up an 8-foot fence around the garden. A few years later we added chicken wire along the bottom 3 feet to try to keep out the woodchucks and screened in the grape vines to keep birds and raccoons from taking all the fruit. Now songbirds perch on the fence and seem to spend more time in the garden eating the bugs that eat the crops. By late spring the bats and birds, frogs and dragonflies seem to be keeping up pretty well with the flies and mosquitos so that we can sit by the pond in peace.
We were pleased to discover a raccoon den in an old maple tree and enjoyed watching the young hunt along the pond edge. The raccoon that came in through the third floor skylight in the middle of the night wasn’t so welcome.
The muskrats we like to watch in the pond were tunneling their burrows into the edges and compromising the strip of land between pond and brook. We didn’t like the advice we got to trap them out, but while we were thinking it over, we started seeing mink more often and muskrats seldom.
I delight in finding nests, but Zachary doesn’t care to have phoebe nestlings in the rafters above his drying lumber. Still we are glad to share this farm with wild neighbors. We puzzle over tracks in the snow and welcome the frog choruses that proclaim spring. We always yield to skunks in the berry patch. We encourage those plants that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. One hilly field is mowed every 3 to 5 years to create the brushy habitat preferred by woodcock. We try to remember ourselves and remind our guests that this farm is a home we share with many creatures and that much of our pleasure in it comes from that diversity.