Thursday, February 7, 2019

The Habitat

Those of you who read "Brays of Our Lives" back in the 00s may remember "the Habitat"—a 400 square foot patch described before as, "rotten plywood, mangled barbed wire fences, old metal hardware, cinder blocks, burn barrels and fiberglass boat hull sections. A section of the property that will be allowed to return to a natural state, obscuring the items that are not a)burnable, or b)recyclable. You will build a nice safe fence around "the habitat", and you will enjoy hearing the tap-tap-tap of the yellow-bellied sapsuckers and seeing the flutter of goldfinches hopping out of the underbrush and into the pasture through gaps in the woven wire." 

Even here at the Ark, where my lot measures a mere 7,200 square feet, I have a Habitat—a place in the corner of the yard where fallen branches, raked up yard-debris, and old Christmas trees go. I think of it less as a yard-care quick fix, and more as a way of giving back to the wild creatures with whom I share this home. 

When Matt and I bought Bent Barrow Farm, we had 7 tons of scrap metal and a 30-foot pile of garbage to contend with. We sorted, hauled, and recycled as much as humanly possible, but there were still rusted objects hidden away beneath the underbrush. This habitat is all natural, and I leave it here on purpose—it really does provide space for squirrels, chipmunks, voles, frogs, mice, birds, and insects to dwell.

Looking at the Habitat in the daylight after a snowfall is fascinating—it is absolutely riddled with bird tracks. The rest of the yard is dotted with the little pathways of traveling feet, but the habitat looks like Grand Central Station—so many interwoven trails that they blend together into an abstract maze. 

Animals need place to hide, forage, and get out of the wind. I'm glad that there's space in my little yard for the private lives of little critters. Next up, a place to dine: I want to spend some time learning about and planting perennials for pollinators, and I hope they'll find my garden more and more delicious with every passing year.