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Our Eco Footprint

Hard to say where to start! We have over 100 bird boxes up around our orchard. We are convinced it gives us bird protection. Mainly in the orchards, we are colonized by swallows and house wrens, but finally, after all these years, 2017 saw three houses of bluebirds nesting here! We are so excited about them. We have 4 Kestrel boxes up to invite Kestrels or Saw-whet owls but nothing so far. These boxes can be inhabited by Northern Flicker Wood Pecker, Saw-whet owls, and or Kestrels. None of these birds eat berries. We held our breath when the bluebirds showed up, but it seems they eat mainly insects and not the fruit. Phew. Patience is required. So we wait! Now, after many years, we have bats in our bat boxes. They were vacant for the longest time. Bats eat bugs, including mosquitoes. Bats are good guys. Late Blooming Asters and Native Bees
Making Mason Bee Boxes

We feed a ton of birds in the feeders, which seems to keep the lovely little goldfinches out the saskatoons. Mainly! Hmmm. We usually have warblers, cedar waxwings, hawks, red pols, northern grosbeaks, blue jays, chickadees, and of course, hummingbirds! We have seen the odd oriole flit through, so there is another challenge for us. Apparently, they will nest in our area, and they like horsehair for nesting. It should be good there. With all the ponds about our place, we have ducks nesting in interesting spots. I think the big red-tailed hawks discourage a lot of problem birds, and they certainly eat mice, which can be problematic depending on the year.

We put out mason bees and do all we can to encourage the native bee population. We do that by increasing our plant diversity for one thing. For instance, we have seeded Dutch clover in the rows, which will supply Nitrogen for our fruit plants, but also pollen for the native bees. Dandelions are actually an important pollen source early in the spring. So no more 2-4D. It may drive us crazy, but that is the path we have chosen. We have installed four native bee ground boxes so, we’ll see next year if anyone lives there. 

They are well marked and out of the traffic flow so as not to worry. We seeded Sainfoin (and inoculated it) in the willow shelterbelt because it is just pretty but also because it is another good food source for the wild bees. We seeded a good quality native flower mix in one shelterbelt. Why all the fuss about the mason and native bees? Wild bees and Mason bees are supposed to be way better pollinators than honeybees. Good pollination makes bigger, better fruit and more of it. Our many shelterbelts reduce wind speed, which serves many purposes. For one, it provides flyways for bees, and it also conserves moisture and increases the heat units.

All the wild, natural areas foster a community of insects that help keep the “bad” insects under control naturally.

Dutch Clover
Mason Bee Box

We do a ton of scouting for good and bad insects. There are many, many good organic tools available when problems occur. Nowadays, you can spray a fungus which destroys certain insects. Or you can spray bacteria that specifically take out caterpillars.

We like to inoculate our plants with beneficial organisms that help fight off plant diseases. Trichoderma is a naturally occurring fungus found in the soil that grows on the roots of plants. We will be showering our strawberry plants with Trichoderma and likely kefir whey and maybe some kombucha for good measure.

Oh, we have lots of deer, moose, elk, coyote, weasel, muskrats, and porcupine. There is no shortage of game about. We relocate some animals and drat the deer. We may have to look into a guardian working dog. The deer eat the trees and rub the trees to the ground. Farming is fun! Farming is challenging.

We foiled the wild game by building a game fence!  That was a super big and expensive project.  Now to remember ... Gotta shut the game fence gate... Gotta shut the game fence gate ... and so on.

Here are a few shots of our neighbors. Remember, we are gardeners and not photographers. LOL

Follow us on FB, where we like to update our neighbor friends.

Remember to stop in and visit our little oasis!

Potted plants of Prairie Sensation and Treasured Red