Part of making our farm at peace on this Earth is making homes for wild animals. We have lost so many birds, including
entire species over the past 60 years that we need to be mindful about what we do, and help where we can.
Much of the
damage to birds has come from the extensive use of pesticides and herbicides that kill the food that the birds eat: insects.
Pesticides are not insect or place exclusive. They poison everything that comes in contact with them. It can be
on the ground, in the grass, sprayed from an airplane, or in the “weed and feed” spread on your lawn. Crops
sprayed with pesticide can carry it long after the harvest, and kill the insects that come in contact with it.
Nesting places, woodlands, even backyards have been destroyed to build more homes, storage areas, and factories, so that
the migratory birds have no place to rest, eat, and drink.
Fewer and fewer birds return every year, so it is very important that the Purple Martin population in our county is
increasing. This has ramifications far beyond this little peninsula.
Our friend Mary alerted us to the Kitsap
Audubon Society’s Purple Martin nesting program, and Cliff contacted Sandy Pavey, one of the Purple Martin Committee
Chairs. She brought out and installed two Purple Martin nests, similar to the one in the picture below on the fence
on the far side of the garden on April 12th. Some time between then and May 1st the Purple Martins should return.
About three weeks after that, they will begin making their nests, laying their eggs, and raising their babies.
lives near here in Brownsville, and her nests have produced babies. The nests are plastic gourds. Each year, offspring
from the previous year find new places to nest, and we hope they will nest here.
Purple Martins prefer to be away
from the woods, and in the open. As you can see in the picture to the right, they will nest in plastic gourde-like structures.
If you look across the garden to the fence, you will see two of these above the fence.
Adult male Purple Martins are
all black and have short black beaks. Females and juvenile males have black backs and gray undersides. To learn more
about this program, go to http://www.kitsapaudubon.org/purplemartin.html.
This week on April 22, is the 45th Earth Day. Somewhere around
here is the button I bought the first Earth Day, a peace symbol that formed a quavering circle, the Earth, around a dying
tree. A picture of one is above. I remember being attracted to that image because we
were losing all of our pine trees to the Pine Rust blight. We lost at least a couple dozen pine trees,
and there are no pines on the farm, now.
It never crossed
my (Marilyn’s) mind that the Pacific Ocean would have something called the warm blob, and that the natural food in the Pacific would become so scarce
that starving seals would wash up on our shores. There was no talk of a drought in California that could
kill farming there, or the long deep freeze of the northern Eastern Seaboard. No one predicted that the
NE Pacific Ocean would have sea surface temperature anomalies that would affect the air temperatures downwind in Washington
State. (Read about it in “Causes and Impacts of the 2014 Warm Anomaly in the NE Pacific”at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015GL063306/abstract.)
This farm is our tiny haven
for nature. It looks much as it always has. I have pictures that are over 100 years
old, and it seems much the same. But the world around us is not the same, and it is very worrisome.
For many years we have been aware that each year the number of migratory birds declines by a very large percentage
of population. The Audubon Society reports that 314 species are the brink of extinction. However,
the fact is that these birds are “canaries in coal mines.” They indicate that the humans are
next. The Earth will survive without us, but we cannot survive without her.
Saving this tiny patch of the earth is why
we farm. We could do other things, but this farm, and thus the Earth, is so beautiful we want to keep it.
We also want to keep the balance of the Earth that keeps us humans alive.