Each morning I fall in love with a depth that fills every inch of my body and outside of it forming a halo of energy that pounds like my heart but with more of a tingle, tingle, tingle than a thump, thump, thump. The land calls to me, calling me home to a place I only remember far back, buried within my DNA. The soil, with its smell, moisture and bugs, is a happy place for me, one that comforts me like a wool blanket or favorite childhood stuffed toy. I am grateful to be here – to be a steward to this place.
Multiple days of rain have finally come, which is wonderful for the plants. I have had some well-deserved rest (despite having to plant all the plants Deedee brought). As the end of the year nears, it is a good time for reflection and planning.
Past: Plant as many plants as possible and enough will survive. Choose a variety of species to accommodate as many pollinators and types of butterflies. Water more than you think. Use stainless steel mesh gopher shields in non-creek areas. Expect heartbreaking losses, but keep moving forward.
2021: Add more rainwater storage. Plant more plants. Add trees. Add fencing and water slowing features in the drainage and spring creek, such as a beaver dam analog. Write more grants. Begin the community tech support program, and hire a young person to help. Reconnect with the elementary school in July for student education beginning in the Fall. I am convinced we will all be in a better situation and can return to being in-person.
The branch fence is holding. Cow pies were all around the fence, and fortunately there was no breech.
With the rain, the grass is growing again. The cattleman has begun the rotation cycle. The cows are on my side of the ranch for two weeks, then will move to the south end. I will be paying close attention to the height of the grass in the areas of the heartleaf milkweed to ensure it is low enough to give the milkweed a chance to emerge. I am so excited to see if more grow. I also plan to mow the hilltop where I have most of my plantings to ensure greater nectar plant emergence. In years past, I allowed the grass to grow tall and then used it as soil cover when it was mowed. While there were still wildflowers that emerged, I am going to try something different to see if more wildflowers grow. I was encouraged by the heartleaf milkweed. This will be the first year we continuously mow.
The branch covers for the willow tree plantings are still intact as are the plants. They will get more moisture this week, which will help them establish well.
We have a solid forecast for rain. Thus far, we have received just over 2″ total of rain since October 1. Sunday, I walked the ranch choosing sites for the cottonwood and buckeye trees that Deedee gave me. The cottonwood may be planted in the arroyo near Site 1 down slope from the hillside spring. They are growing in a similar drainage on my neighbor’s place. The buckeye will be planted on the west facing slope just up stream on the spring creek from Site XR2. The cows seem to leave all the other buckeyes alone on Odom Creek, so I am not planning to fence around this tree. I will check with the biologists to get their opinion on my site choices before planting.
The sun is rising on a new year and each day provides a renewed opportunity for benefiting our relations. If humanity were to make a New Year’s resolution, I would wish for it to be that humanity reflect on what greed, anger and hatred does, how it provides nothing of benefit to anyone – and to move forward with a commitment to respect, generosity and service. This would result in us exploring and remediating our actions that decimate the Monarch and everything else. Would that not be a valuable pursuit? What a wonderful reward to see Monarchs and all other butterflies plentiful again, flitting around, tickling the hairs on our arms as they land and lift. Personally, I need to find peace within myself and move forward from this time. I do not see that path clearly yet, but I am walking that direction with my eyes open ready to learn.