It’s been a few years since we worked on cultivating our wild spaces here at Seven Trees Farm. In 2008 we started planting some native habitat restoration shrubs and trees around the perimeter of our lot, some of which took off and some, not so much.
Since then, we’ve been caught up in our domesticated species endeavours – bees, cows, chickens, corn, wheat, beans, herbs, and so on. Some of which took off and some, not so much.
Now that we don’t have large livestock (i.e. horses or cattle) to worry about, we decided to expand those original hedgerows into cover plantings for our chickens. This winter, while those planning discussions were underway, we noticed the unmistakable buzz of a hungry hummingbird. In previous years the hummingbirds would pack up and fly south for the winter in late August, not to return until late March. But between climate change and habitat destruction, all bets are off. We dusted off the hummingbird feeder and gave thanks for the Costco-sized bag of sugar in the pantry. (One part sugar to four parts water. Heat and stir until dissolved.)
Not long after that initial brave winged soul appeared, we were swarmed by ravenous Rufous hummers. We broke out the back up feeder, since one male was so fiercely defending ‘his’ feeder no one else could fuel up. Those two feeders were immediately overwhelmed with hungry birds, so we had to resort to the usually-unloved third feeder, hung a bit farther off under the carport roof.
This onslaught luckily coincided with the annual Whatcom County conservation district plant sale, so one of us braved the cold, wind & rain (not to mention the crowds of pushy people) to buy hummingbird-friendly hedgerow material. Oregon ash trees, native blue elderberry, crab apple, mock orange, and ever-so-popular red flowering currant. We also protected most of our new plantings with blue CREP tubes. CREP stands for Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, a federal program that pays landowners to preserve critical habitats. In our area it is common to see new plantings protected by these reused blue plastic tubes, so having a ring of them around the lot perimeter means habitat reconstruction.
Not that we still don’t have livestock management issues. Stay tuned for the next update which might very well involve the one species that has never planted cloven hoof upon the soil of Seven Trees….far baaa it from me to let the sheep out of the bag about that 😀