The farm field was planted this week, after ominous talk of
not enough rain for planting. Farmers had to make a decision
as to whether to plant this year or not. The decision was made
after a wet end to April, a boost to confidence in a business
in which "confidence" is a joke.
In less than a day, 28 acres of corn were planted (an easy
day for a farmer, I'm sure there was another small acreage
farm on the schedule as well). The farmer is a "no till"
farmer: there is no annual deep plowing and discing of the
soil to prepare for the planter. This year the field was
"ripped", a gang of chisel-like implements are stabbed into
the ground to a depth of about one and a half feet and then
pulled along, disturbing/loosening the soil at root level
while leaving the surface relative unchanged except for
parallel slits through the field. The no-till method came
about as an answer to wind-caused erosion. As a result, a
remnant of last year's crop remains through the following
But, like most things, no-till isn't a win-win situation, not
a silver bullet solution. No-till requires a larger usage of
herbicides to control weeds when tilling (mechanical disruption
of the soil to control the growth of weeds) isn't done. No-till
saves on fuel and labor expenses, at the cost of using chemical
means of controlling weeds.
So, along with planting this week, spraying browned the
resident weeds that have been feeding the other residents
of this little ark: deer, turkeys, rabbits, mice, voles,
opossums, skunks, raccoons and the countless unseen feeders
of the wild winter-weed bounty. The brownness saddens me,
even though I know that in a few weeks the field will start to
get corn green, in a few months the house will be a little
island in the middle of a green ocean, but right now, all I see
is the brown.
I've been putting off mowing the lawn because the white dutch
clover has been in bloom. It's pretty, and, it's been nice to
stand ankle-deep in clover and listen to the light-weight buzz
of honey bees all around me. And hundreds of small butterflies
have been busy alongside the bees visiting the flowers. Barn
swallows and bluebirds have been soaring knee-high above the
lawn shagging insects. But, I had to mow this week, just like
the farmer had to plant this week.
It will all come back: corn will grow, followed by weeds in
the fall. The clover will re-flower, too, but it's sometimes
impossible to ignore the effect we have on our surroundings,
almost as impossible as it is to say that we have an effect.
As much as we would like to "make a difference" in our time
here, maybe moving through our time with as little impact as
possible would be a loftier goal. Having little effect is
certainly the more difficult path to travel.
I've attached a photo below. It was taken a week and one rain
storm after planting!
The first hint of green, one week after planting.
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