wild meadows

My husband and I decided when we purchased our farm that we would discontinue mowing the fields, which for the last few years had been mowed for hay. These now fallow fields, green in the spring and golden in the fall, are slowly being reclaimed by nature. Once plentiful native grasses and wildflowers are re-emerging to provide a source of food for deer and other browsers, seed for birds, nectar for pollinators, and places for wildlife of all kinds to find shade, nest, and hide from predators.

Native grasses like little bluestem are coming back

Looking across the fields, we watch the seasonal sequence of green shoots emerging, wildflowers blooming, monarchs and swallowtails nectaring, sparrows singing from atop grass stems, and bees gathering pollen to take back to their hives. At sunset, they become swallowfields as white-breasted tree swallows make low sweeps back and forth, plucking insects from the air, and after dark, they are the mating grounds of the fireflies.

Visiting tiger swallowtail

After four years of no mowing, native grasses are better able to compete with non-native species. We’re seeing an increase in such natives as Eastern gamagrass, Indian grass, and little bluestem. We’re also seeing more blackberry brambles than ever before, and more wildflowers, including some species we haven’t seen before such as butterweed, goatsbeard, and butterfly weed.

Oxeye daisies dominate portions of the fields

We mow a small area around the house and outbuildings and along the edges of the lane, but leave the remaining woods and fields to the deft hand of Mother Nature. There was a time when I liked an orderly, weed-free lawn, but now I see a tangle of weeds as a sanctuary for crickets and toads, a stand of thistle as a feast for goldfinches, and a tall reed as a singing platform for a sparrow. Beauty is, indeed, in the eyes of the beholder.

In upland mowings now no longer mowed, the banished weed again lifts high its head, ennobled by some quaint ancestral name.  Benjamin T. Richards

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13 thoughts on “wild meadows

  1. I just love your new look! A couple of my buddies and myself rose early and headed for the wooded trails close to our barn-We enjoyed a peaceful ride on our horses admiring a few wild flowers and just the sheer beauty and peaceful nature of the woods-Lowell and I also decided two years ago to mow only a small portion around our new home-The balance of our 15 acres is grassy fields, a large wonderful lake, and or course, geese. Maybe with the help of your blog I can finally start to identify some of these grasses and blooms that are now enhancing our gorgeous view! We even spotted our first Hummingbird three days ago!!

    • We have a pair of hummingbirds – probably the same pair that nested here last year. In a few weeks, the youngsters will be zipping around. We also have phoebes and bluebirds nesting in the porch rafters. Yahoo.

  2. I think it was a great idea to let your fields grow wild! It’s a shame that so many people are captivated by the neat lines of a tended garden and fail to appreciate the riotous beauty of an unkept field or forest. I hope you and your husband continue to enjoy it for many years to come.

    • Thanks, sedeer. I know that the wildlings have been enjoying the property – saw a blue-tailed skink and a salamander yesterday. We’re beginning to see the “fruits” of our (non) labor 🙂

  3. This is excellent! I’ve never understood the mania for astroturf-like lawns that have little to do with nature. I’m sure the creatures around your farm appreciate this 🙂

    • Thanks, Tracy. Sometimes I feel like I’m preaching to the choir in that the people that visit my blog are nature-lovers and already realize the benefits of leaving some of the land in its natural state.

  4. Your new site looks nice, Jo Ann. It’s good to see a photo of your land, with the mountains in the background. You’re lucky to have fields with so much diversity. At my North Carolina homeplace, one of the fields is nearly all queen anne’s lace — pretty, but not the best for wildlife.

    • Thanks, DJ. We haven’t really done much to encourage diversity, just stopped mowing, and it took a few years for some of the natives to come back.

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