Sunday, January 18, 2015

Holes and greens

Down in the pasture I've been noticing a a carpet of green and a lot of holes in the ground which have both taken over the uncultivated space at the bottom of our hill.

The greens, of course, are natural grasses and shrubs, a.k.a. weeds, which grow enthusiastically on our property with a tenacity and success that I have yet to match with the trees and vines I plant down there. They're not much of a worry to me, except where they are growing around my berry and grape vines and trees. 

Not willing to apply chemical sprays, I've spent the better part of two days hand weeding around the bases of the trees and shrubs, and have the bleeding arms to prove it. Berries are thorny and very well-defended plants, even when you are trying to help them by removing competitive plants around their bases.

The holes are a bit of a mystery to me, except for the largest ones which are from ground squirrels. There are small ones and medium ones, which could host anything from tarantulas to snakes to field mice.

While the greenery is a simple fix -- pull what's competing with the plants for nutrients and leave the rest -- the holes are a dilemma, because if we are going to have livestock, the holes will have to go.  They are just too much of a hazard to sheep, who could injure or even break a leg by stepping into one.

But one of the basic cornerstones of permaculture is leaving a certain amount of your property to nature and her critters, to do with what they please (within reason). And so I'd prefer to leave the bottom of the pasture to the hole-dwellers, if possible.

This will take some creative fence design, but I think having a balance of cultivated property and wild property is worth it.  As for how to do it, I'm not sure yet...but in the hours I will be spending down in the pasture weeding, perhaps that will give me more than enough time to think about it.

Of course with enough holes and enough greens, I guess I could always open a permacultural golf course, and with the general pathetic-ness of my golf game, the hole-dwellers are probably safe.


  1. Wait--you can have tarantulas where you live?!! well for me all bets are off with spiders so I would be throwing my permaculture to the wind and spraying raid and roundup and lighting cans of hairspray down those holes! Guess it's a good thing I live where I do! Joking aside, I see the dilemma in this. Could you plant something low and native in the holes? Potential forage for sheep and eliminating falling hazards, but slow enough that whatever is down there has time to dig out in the loose soil.

    1. I could, but I kind of like offering the tarantulas a home so will fence the livestock out of the official Spider area lol. Tarantulas are very gentle creatures, people around here are very fond of them. I was out walking with a friend the other day and we saw one crossing the road, she bent down, picked it up, and carried it safely to the side of the road. I used to be scared of them, but now I actually like them!

  2. I don't think I could ever get used to tarantulas, but kudos to your friend for her compassion and bravery!

    1. They look scary, but are actually so gentle. I've learned to enjoy and respect them. But I still would not like to be surprised finding one where I didn't expect it!