June was gentle, with cool wet weather delaying many flowers and fruits of the season. Peas were off the hook, and nettle held its lush, tender leaves. Grazing was fantastic for the sheep, and ewes put on good weight through milk production, and the lambs bulked up on rich milk fast. We sold out of stock this year before Solstice, which was a great blessing. Fishing continues, with the goal to find a small dingy for alpine lake trout. Cedar waxwings hung out, gleaning fig beetle larva off our Japanese Snowflake Viburnum. Because of the cool weather, we lost a lot of germinating seed in the garden- the risk of direct sewing. Slugs won this year’s garden race, but our established perennials are thriving.
July has been tame, giving us a feeling that this summer will be pleasant and typical for Western Washington. Strawberries were out late, but fruit trees seem well pollinated, even with the cold June dampness. Our Bee hive collapsed after a struggle for resources with another colony. Leafhopper Farm will not resurrect the hive again, instead focusing energy on the continued development of our pollination resources for native insects. Our new dingy, named “Alaska Amber” by my partner, has carried us into good alpine lake waters as we continue harvesting the wild and stocked bounties in freshwater paradise. The sheep are enjoying out “back forty” pasture with ram introduction. Gill, our LGD champion, enjoys good pets and doggie play time with Valentine.
July brought us a 90sF weekend with a 30 degree temperature jump overnight. As we head towards the end of the month, a week of 90s is set to push the limits of our ecology again. When August comes, wildfire threat will be hot to trot across much of The West. If this summer continues to be “normal”, we’ll hope for some rain, and cooler temperatures to prevail. Watering remains a high priority, along with weeding, including blackberry suppression. Harvesting herbs, seeds, and berries brings much looked forward to rewards of labor. Watching the swallow tail butterflies seeking nectar across the newly planted oak grove, gave me pause to think on an ever changing landscape, bringing many lives together at different times. I reflected on how much change the butterflies had imposed to that landscape over thousands of generations, compared to human impact in only a few.
Up until the late 1800s, people had lived on the land for thousands of years within tight knit communities that had thriving culture and established territories across the landscape within great temperate rain forests teaming with life of all kinds. Then, European manifest destiny came and imposed western implementation for resource extraction from what was deemed an inexhaustible supply. That generation of thinking continued into another, and another, and then neighborhoods of patched together squares and odd angles split land into pieces for personal want and gain. Pastures replaced slash and burn, and a new onslaught of domestic consumption arose. Horses, cattle, and human extortion through mechanical abuse continued into today, where we still mow, till, and sew our demands from the soil. That’s a brutal picture, and it’s important to look at with the same lens as the butterfly.
Nature has not stopped, the complexity before us, the system we are intimately woven into might be lost in some ways, but found in others. Temperatures will continue to rise, causing the decline in western hemlock, which you can see dying center stage in the video above. This clearing was cut and burned at least twice, and has been grazed by pigs, cattle, horses, goats, and today, sheep. But a forest is also growing here- big leaf maple and hazel stand with oak. There’s some knot weed, which will be shaded out in time. The oaks will outlive the maple, which will decline much like the hemlock if the heat continues. In this human lifetime, turning the tide on extractive, to a focus on regenerative shifts our impact towards the lofty butterfly. That winged pollinator drifts in unseen currents of constant change- it is adapting to what nature offers, not adapting nature to suit its needs and wants. The butterfly plays only one part in the whole. For people, it’s sometimes very hard to accept that the earth spins around the sun- so to speak. I promise you, it does, and we are helpless little beings that will only survive if we adapt and change.