I tell ya, I'm buggin'.
Moon Dog Farms has reached it's half birthday.We've been here six months, though it's felt like six seconds at times.
When we arrived in January, the Texan winter had turned the land brown and crunchy. Now, these months later into Texan summer, we're still battling the brown and crunchy, but there is so much more visible life.
There's buzzing, squawking, hummming, chittering and singing-- there be animals here. I've remarked upon this metamorphosis before; as Spring awakened, we sighted buntings, egrets and ducks, and would habitually find tracks in the morning mud.
Yet, the life that really gets me going lies with the bugs.
Not to sound too stony ( although go ahead and imagine me pizza slice in hand, proudly donning a ratty Grateful Dead shirt) but there is a completely different universe that lives beneath our feet, under the leaves, in the soil and amongst the stems and branches.
And the best thing is, this whole other world benefits us. It's not actually separate, but directly connected to us.
The spiders, wasps and other beasties do us farmers a total solid by eating the bugs that view our veggies and fruit with the same delectable perspective as us humans. They are part of a built-in defense system, one we do not pay, who do not receive insurance or vacations, and we do nothing to notify them of the job position apart form growing the produce, providing a home.
Well, almost nothing.
There is one catch.
If a garden, whether in a suburban backyard or stretched across acres is grown with pesticides and herbicides, you can say good-bye to those critters. Not just the hornworms with their space-alien physique who devour your tomato plants, but the monarchs who rest atop your birdbath, the assassin bugs who happily gorge on stinkbugs and the ladybugs who munch aphids and are a delight to grandchildren everywhere. I mean, come on... ladybugs!
And of course, the honeybee. There's been much talk about the decline of the global honeybee population for several years, but it's true; we need these ladies to help us create our food.
The sprays that come in snappily dressed plastic bottles and jugs with vows to beautify your yard and eradicate pests--they keep it ALL away.
Sevin, Glyphosate (Roundup), Diazinon and countless other compounds make up the weed-killers and pest killers that line the feed store and Home Depot shelves. They get sprayed onto soy crops, lawns and cracks in the pavement. But they end up reaching much farther than that..these ingredients wash into the rivers, ponds and oceans, and end up touching thousands of other forms of life. Including us.
These chemicals decline the very nature your yard promises, the chance to observe and learn-- and in a more dismal sense, it contributes to the destruction of something very ancient, very sacred and integral to our world.
It's my hope that this blog doesn't become a Bastion of Preach, and so I'll end the diatribe here. Hopefully you're not already sleeping or browsing Hulu by now.
When it's all said and done, what's important to me is that I don't lose the opportunity to look up while harvesting sunflowers and spot a bumblebee, nuzzling deep between some petals. The gift of seeing these tiny animals everyday is part of why I farm.
I hope it never goes away.
Here's some resources I like surrounding the questions around bugs:
- A&M's website about beneficial insects in Texas, how to identify them & what they do
- some recipes for Garret's Juice, homemade natural pesticide that we use at the farm, mainly to discourage cucumber beetles
-here's the video showing you how to make said recipe
- The Texas Bug Book: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, by Malcolm Beck and Howard Garrett