“On a farm walk with Mark one hot afternoon this week I noticed that different pollinators had staked their claim in different perennial crops. The raspberries were noisy with the low drone of bumblebees, and only bumblebees. Not two yards away, the asparagus patch was crowded with the honeybees, their saddlebags full of asparagus pollen, and not a bumble to be found. What made them segregate themselves that way, and who had the better deal?
As the years tick by I find myself increasingly interested in the intersection between nature and agriculture. I want to know more about what is going on just beyond our sight and out of our meager zone of control, in the hedgerow, underground, in the tangle of grasses in the pasture. Who benefits from our presence here, and who suffers? Would the resident American Bittern have chosen our pond if it weren’t for the fat frogs who eat the copious flies who are attracted to the cows who manure the pasture?
But what about the bobolink, whose nestlings had not yet fledged when we mowed the first hay field? I bet she would rather we had never come. Then there are the teaming, invisible residents of the soil, the microbes, the mycelium, the beetles, the worms.
I wish I could comprehend, all and once and for an instant, the entire complexity of the web of life around us, and see the force of our choices on it…” Continue reading this Essex Farm Note.