Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Prairie winter

I think the thing I like best about making my way in farming is all the very interesting things I get to witness on a regular basis regarding "nature", seems kind of cliche, but things I would never have noticed in a million years I now have a front seat to. Also this is the beauty of being an organic farm. I don't really have a too much of a hand in how things work out there cause I'm not killing everything or trying to manipulate things too much, I just get to observe. Its frustrating sometimes, like when blister beetles ate my chard overnight. but there was a lesson in there too. They ate the chard but left everything else alone. So I planted more chard, as a trap plant, then gathered em up and well, I killed em! Organically, with my foot, and some neem oil. The horses in the neighborhood have all sent thank you letters.

The chard is gone and so are the beetles. Today I feel like I can plant chard. Or find more blister beetles. Who knows!

One really amazing thing that I have been noticing is how many grass hoppers are out there. They are really quite beautiful and have amazing intricate markings. Their flight is music and when they are still they are still. I had been noticing little holes in the soil, some times these small little holes are caused by birds plucking out grubs but the grasshoppers are making these holes I've watched them. What were they doing? I asked google of course! This is from a web site called Prairie Winter.

Grasshopper (family Tettigoniidae {long-horned})
In the fall the female grasshopper drills deep holes in the prairie soil by pushing the tip of her abdomen into the ground and squeezing out twenty to a hundred eggs. She swallows air to blow up her abdomen so it can push deeper into the soil. She covers the eggs with a white froth which soon forms a hard case to protect the eggs. She dies, but the eggs last through the winter and then
hatch into tiny grasshoppers.

It seems a little hot still to be laying yur eggs but who am I to question. So I'll be curious to know if it doesn't start tuning cooler here real soon.

One thing I've really come to understand is how alive winter is below the soil. On top everything looks dead and dormant but underneath it's a party that I was not invited too, at least yet! All those eggs and micro organisms at work. I'm having a farmy nerd fest here!

And the lady bugs........I've seen quite a few.

Ladybird Beetles "Ladybugs" (family Coccinellidae)
In the fall these beetles gather in groups making it easy for farmers to collect and transport them to the farms for pest control. However, the ladybugs' reason for gathering is to prepare for winter by piling one on top of the other in tree stumps or under rocks and leaves to protect themselves from the winter cold.

So I guess I appreciate the opportunity to pay attention. To watch my farm mates get ready for winter and for me to do the same. Its serious business for them, nothing to take lightly. They don't have flannel, or quaint little wood burning stoves, warm goat milk with honey, apple butter on homemade bread like the frogs and toads do.

1 comment:

Linda said...

Cool! I've seen the white frothy stuff the grasshopper mamas leave behind...looks like a milky white head on a latte! I had no idea what it was.