Despite the pest problems this year (or perhaps because of them), I’ve been seeing a great deal of beneficial wildlife around as well. Many summer days, working in the field, we can look up to see 15 or more dragonflies hovering and swooping, eating many times their weight in mosquitoes, beetles, flies, and other insects. Most evenings I can generally see a couple bats doing the same, though at a recent sunset I counted five individuals all circling the field scooping up our pests.
Frogs and toads are as common as ever, encountered nearly every day within our beds. Their abundance is a nice seal of organic quality for us, as are the racers and other snakes which we see a few times a week, helping control the rodent population.
Every year we discover a few new species on the farm, such as the small rough green snake we found last month. The soil-life diversity is incredible; it seems that every week we find a new beetle, spider, or insect that we’ve never seen before and that for all we know is barely studied. Scientists like to study the rare populations in remote places, but often it’s hard to find reliable information on the diversity right in our own backyard.
Little pleasures like these are one of the unquantifiable benefits to running this kind of farm. They don’t pay the bills, but they probably do keep us healthier and saner in some small way. We often see things it might take others years or even a lifetime, if their only time spent outdoors is weekends in a park. We can’t promise a specific visitor anything neat, but start spending regular time here and you’re virtually guaranteed to see something fascinating and different. I think our employees are finding this, too, as in the case last week where I was able to gently catch a dragonfly and take a moment for all of us to study it closely and feel wonder. If only a camera had been available…but maybe it’s something worth just as much for the memory of those who shared it.