Saturday, June 1, 2013

A Growing Vision

From day one, I had a clear vision of how I wanted our house to look and feel. What I couldn't quite figure out was how we would leave our imprint on the land. When we bought Farm Dover, it was being farmed, rotating corn and soy beans. Before that, it was a dairy farm.

Fortunately, my partner in this adventure is Ed, who possessed a very clear vision for the land. Before we even broke ground on the house, he met with a wildlife biologist from the Ketnucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources to figure out how we could create a healthy wildlife habitat, particularly for quail.

One of the recommendations from the biologist was to eradicate the fescue grass and convert most of the fields to native warm season grasses. We chose to plant Little Bluestem, as it is ideal for quail, providing them with excellent nesting cover while maintaining enough bare ground to allow their chicks to move freely.

Turns out, planting native grasses is tricky work. One must have the right equipment to drill the seed into the ground and the expertise to know how to do it and when to do it. With a bit of calling around, we found our expert: Greg Stephens. Greg interviewed us about what we were trying to accomplish and suggested that we add some specific wildflower seeds to the native grass mix. Last summer, he planted most of our fields with Little Bluestem mixed with Black-eyed Susans, False Sunflowers, Greyheaded Coneflower, Purple Coneflower, Partridge Pea, Butterfly Milkweed and Lance-Leaved Coreopsis. With this wildflower mix, one or more of the varieties would be blooming from May through October.

It took a full season for the plantings to get established. Last summer was hot and dry and not much was happening out in the fields. I was beginning to wonder if they were supposed to look like they did -- and if so, what was all this fuss about native grasses/wildflowers?

I want to show you how our fields look today. It just takes my breath away. It is acres and acres of the most beautiful yellow Coreopsis.

The quail love it; mornings and evenings we hear them calling bob white back and forth. The bees are buzzing all over the place. The red-winged blackbirds rise up from and dive down into the grasses, as they fly to and fro from their nests. The gold finch perch on the slender flower stems. Millions of fireflies at dusk stage a magical show, put on just for my entertainment.

I can't wait to see what comes up next.

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