Monday, August 9, 2010

Chipmunks and Rabbits

Chipmunks and rabbits are busy now.  The picture shows how chipmunk harvested many flowers from an herb, self-heal and broke them up to get the protein-rich embryos from developing seeds.  For many years I have enjoyed seeing self-heal march around the garden in its search for good places to grow.  Self-heal is one of my favorite herbs.  When I began homesteading the land, self-heal was not present.  Soon it began growing up the drive and before long it was on top of the hill and in small open field patches.  Now it is spreading over many areas, lending its bright blue "pagoda flowers" to the landscape and to my basket of herbal medicine.

Back to chipmunks.  Given lazy gardener ways, I have had an interest in having plants naturalize on the land with minimum effort on my part.  There is a gentle balance between the effects of planting what I like, weeding out more invasive species that have wind-blown seeds, and watching chipmunk and deer eating the seeds and plants that I do want to naturalize.  Since I am not the boss here, the animals have a controlling interest.  Especially this time of year, in later summer, chipmunk is busy harvesting and caching seeds, flowers, and fruits.  They run around to various patches of plants and magically pack away food to hiding places.  They take away all of the quince, rose hips, and seeds from other flowers that they can find.  I can often find piles of flowers and fruit torn open as remnants of past picnics.  A result of this activity is that naturalization is slow to none for my favorite plants.    

The bunnies are prolific this year, as I have often counted two dozen just looking out the window.  They are in all sizes ranging from full grown to the smallest babies out for their first feeding on fresh grass and a roll in the dirt.  They sometimes impede naturalization of clovers and other herbs.  But mostly they do a good job of keeping the open grass areas trimmed, so I don't have to mow for several months.

Do I regret the effects of so many animals?  Surely not, as I am part of their life as they are of mine and enjoy making the spaces that produce an abundance of food and medicine for them and for me.  It would be a selfish world to live here without making room for the spontaneous and delightful feast of harvest that is wildness.    

Posted by michael

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