Essay

In response to a request for a brief story of a portion of our land in rural Green Co. I am happy to offer:

On three gently sloping knolls, separated by three somewhat deeper slow drainage runs, our 21 acres supports a variety of eco-environments: dry upland prairie remnant, gradually adjoining oak savanna, adjacent to slightly downhill and lightly shaded oak woodlands, and finally deeper, moister, darker "draws".

In some places there are also small conifer plantations (planted 1980), and finally, we have a small area of very densely covered maple woods, supporting abundant spring ephemerals and and fern.

Until 2000 all these areas were at risk of being overrun by woody and herbaceous alien invasives which were quickly closing in, and left unchecked each diverse habitat mentioned above would have soon become a terminal mono-culture of honeysuckle, garlic mustard, and a relatively new arrival, Japanese hedge parsley. Absent control these aggressive species, and the many others that follow, would rapidly suffocate all complex native environments within a few short years greatly reducing, and indeed ultimately eliminating, natural diversity of both plants and animals, including numerous at-risk species.

But only ten years into our efforts at control we now see an accelerating bounce back. Every site visit holds surprises and increasingly rich evidence of progress. Thus, we find ample reward for the costs in time and energy necessary to protect what is native against what feels like a thunderous riot of aggression outside the gates. Yet notwithstanding the din in the air, we do remain convinced that we can make these 21 acres an extraordinary example of an increasingly diverse and important habitat.

Finally, it is our hope that each year's investment will eventually compound to a time when control and management may become less intense and less critical, and one might hope too that perhaps one day conventional management techniques will become less onerous, but we do feel, nevertheless, that our task at hand is likely measured in lifetimes.

Chuck Bauer & Chuck Beckwith
Blanchardville, WI
May 16, 2010


Rare Earth Farm