VISCERAL THOUGHTFULNESS

Today our crew put the first big day into developing a new leased property.  When I say developing, I don’t mean strip malls and condominiums.  I mean fencing and water systems in order to practice mob stocking herbivorous solar conversion lignified carbon sequestration fertilization.

It’s 167 acres literally in the village of Middlebrook:  it adjoins the little league ball diamond.  So our efforts will be front and center.  That’ll be good for some prejudicial conversations.

 My job is to pick where the permanent fences will go.  People always ask me:  “I have a property; where do I start?”  My answer is always the same:  “Start with the obvious.”  By obvious, I mean terrain and riparian features that require protection; that’s a given.  If you start with the givens, the rest falls into place as a functional refinement.

We now lease some 12 properties, and they’re always the same when we come on.  Large acreages with either no internal fences or existing fences in the wrong place.  I’m always struck by the lack of visceral thoughtfulness among farmers.  For example, this property has a wonderful spring at the base of a steep bluff; the bluff is covered in trees.  For many years, the previous operators let the cows lounge in the spring, tromping, pooping, peeing, and scaring the bluff (hillside), pushing the soil down to silt in the spring.

The spring water runs down along the boundary fence into a long, flat area, creating a swampy, wet zone.  Again, for decades, cows have walked into and through that area, often sinking in mud up to their bellies and of course defecating into the riparian zone.

Today, in a matter of about 4 person-hours, we erected a permanent electric fence (single wire) that will now protect that entire area in perpetuity.  Now cattails can grow and the spring can flow clean without being assaulted by marauding bovines.  Such a little investment for a big ecological return. Nobody paid us for this; we didn’t seek compensation from the government.  We did it because it’s right for the ecology.  It’s just visceral thoughtfulness.

What have you done in your landscape, owned or unowned, lately that exemplifies visceral thoughtfulness?