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Jeff McFadden @homemadeguitars
, 31 tweets, 7 min read Read on Twitter
Y'all tired of the fiasco? Wanna take a walk with me for a while?
We've got this almost-30-acres here. People say, "Do you farm it?"
Har har. A "Farm" in Missouri has a thousand acres and would cost one million dollars minimum.
Before you bought so much as a shovel.
Often there's not a house on it.
But a lot of small holders mess with farm-y stuff, 🐂🐂 and 🐴🐎, 🐏🐑 and🐐🐐. And we did. It was a learning experience.
We make a larger actual profit annually (in terms of nourishing meals eaten) in 30 sq. ft. of sweet potatoes and 5 watermelon plants, but...
It's almost impossible to earn an actual livelihood on a small holding. Even among the Amish few do anymore, and they don't feed cars, TVs or insurance companies.
So... Then what?
I'm in the process of turning our place into a park / nature preserve / wildlife refuge.
Assuming, that is, that we are wildlife. So let's just go with "life refuge."
We don't even "farm" our yard.
We've still got one old cow and one old donkey.
They - the cow and donkey - are large outdoor pets. They don't do any more for us than the dogs and cats. We got them once; we are responsible for them.
So we make a little hay each year. Maybe 3 acres of square bales, mixed grass / clover hay.
The rest of the time I just mow it like a yard, except with always an eye on leaving and enhancing habitat for wildlife. Not charismatic big fancy critters, just - the sort of thing that used to live here that I can encourage.
I'm planning to buy a wildlife camera so I can see what lives out there when I'm not looking. Anyway - the walk.
The property has a creek across it. We're pretty far up the watershed, so the creek is an upland, semi-seasonal creek. It's down there:
Be patient. It takes a long time for these pics to upload on rural broadband.
I usually walk to the creek. I
-- oops. I'll be back later. G came over and gave me an assignment.
OK, where was I ... Oh yeah... I usually walk down to water, which means either the creek or one of the beat down, silted in ponds.
And I prefer running water. I used to be a captain on the Missouri River and I always thought, from here I can get anywhere on Earth.
But I'm old, and - from creek I came, to creek I must return. I played in a nastier creek than this one growing up. A city creek, partially paved, in Kansas City. So - I enjoy our creek.
Now - in spring - it's running clear water between the mud banks.
If I stand at one of the pools and watch, pretty soon I'll see minnows swimming, swift schools of shadow darting from log to rock, feeding in the riffles.
The deer and foxes, turkeys and who-knows-what-all, use places I keep mowed as their paths to water.
The creek bank used to be impassable, weeds, poison ivy, multiflora rose, nettles, and, along the edge of it all, an impenetrable thicket of chokecherry saplings.
Old field invaders.
There is a natural order of progression.
But I use a fancy expensive mowing machine to accelerate the succession. As the forest matures it will shade out the undergrowth and open up habitat for bigger animals. Foxes. Turkeys. Deer. This was a poison ivy thicket.
So I go down to the creek bank with this.
Multiflora rose is an invasive species, introduced by some genius because it would be free fence. Not well thought out. Left to it's own devices it would cover the state of Missouri with one utterly impenetrable thicket of thorns.
But - you know the old story. "Please don't throw me in that briar patch!" Kept under control, the rose thickets have their place. The bunnies and small critters love them.
So I mow the easy places, leave enough in the hard places for the critters.
Now certain humans of limited vision, often (but not always) of the female persuasion, have been known to look at this and utter the word, "lazy," but...
Where was I - oh, rationalizing. Anyway...
Chica enjoys the walks. She has to wear her work collar to go out of the yard. It's a fine guage "choke" collar, but really it's a "rattle" collar. She gets out of place, I shake her leash, her collar rattles, I make some "mmf" noise...
She *loves* these walks. I ask her if she wants to go, she hops up on the bed and sits... I make a loop with the collar and hold it out, she sticks her nose through it. I get my stick and we're gone. She's at full extension here.
Sometimes she gets tangled up in the underbrush, but she's hip to all this. She stops, I untangle her, we go on.
When I want to take a picture she has to stop too. My camera's mounted on top of my walking staff.
Chica shows me how the wildlife is doing. We humans can only see what's right in front of us, but dogs can see what was here last night, and what's out of sight upwind. And we think we're superior. Pah.
That green ground across the creek is ours too, but it's about a fifteen minute walk from here, up to the road, across the creek on the road, and into the other side meadow. You can see it from here.
It's a long slog up the hill to get home. Long for an old fart anyway. We poke around down in the creek bottom, then I say, Chica, let's go home." And she drifts over into "heel" position and we march steady up to the house.
When we get here I'm puffing a little.
Good for an old guy to puff a little. I always send G a text before I leave: 🚶
So if I die halfway up the hill she knows where to find me.
I can't think of a better way out. --bye.
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