This time of year, plants and animals seem to loosen their grip on the Farm. Corn and soybeans have been harvested, cattle have been moved off the pasture paddocks, leaves have fallen off the trees, and grass is brown. But, we know that after winter, plant and animals will reassert their control. And, in the storage sheds where there’s little traffic or activity, both plants and animals invade during all the seasons of the year.
Earlier in the fall, the “varmints” started looking for a place to spend the winter. Actually, they’re pretty busy year round. We have skunks, woodchucks, raccoons, and possums dig under woodpiles and burrow into sheds all the time. In some cases it doesn’t matter and we can live with them. But, other times they can be pretty intrusive and something needs to be done. This photo shows a skunk in a live trap earlier this fall in one of the cluttered sheds. This approach is only a partial solution, however. The live trap helps my aim when the varmint is killed, but in this case it took several weeks for the smell to clear out of the shed. The whole process works better outside of a confined space.
As a part of our long-term effort to downsize, we’ve been sorting and cleaning the storage sheds. We’ve still got a lot to do, as you can see from the skunk picture and from this photo. But, Nature is resilient and this bean plant is growing inside a shed without much light or water. It’s done this for several years and it’s kinda scary because the plant is so pale and so tough. How can it grow without light or water? Maybe it’s got some vampire genes that make it comfortable in the dark?
One of the things that we’ve hauled out of the sheds, is an old canvas used to cover feed wagons that stored ground ear corn back in the day. It’ll eventually end up on the burn pile, but I’m using it to cover and kill weeds until then. I spread the canvas out over a patch of nettles after burning and mowing. It was supposed to work like mulch and suppress the weeds. But, the holes let in light and moisture so the nettles grew right up through those windows. I guess it worked about as successfully as shooting the skunk inside the storage shed!
Buildings come and buildings go. Our house is the newest building on the Farm and it’s more than twenty years old. The “Great’s House” is where the homesteading family, their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren have all lived. The “new” addition to the Great’s House is more than one hundred years old. Between the oldest and the newest buildings, there’ve been some changes carried out by humans. But, Nature is the constant driver of change.
The vine in these photos somehow came up behind the siding on the Greats’ House and then emerged to grow and entwine in a more familiar way. Consequently, it looks like it grew right out of the wall of the porch on the southwest corner of the house. You can tell by all of the green that this picture was taken earlier in the year. Nature will not be denied.
As the generations change, the buildings also need to change. Horse barns are replaced by tractor sheds. After the Holidays, I’m planning to do a series of weekly posts that document those changes in a tour of both the old and the new buildings around the farmyard.