The Consequences of Doing or Not Doing

When I mow the grass, it is an ecological catastrophe for some creatures, a boon to others. When I keep living roots in the soil, I increase stability and complexity of soil life. When I plough or grow annual crops—in my garden, for example—I create havoc for many types of fungi, some of which are beneficial. When my father sprayed his tree to “get rid of those caterpillars” the robins’ babies died shortly thereafter. On the next Sunday, we sang “This Is My Father’s World” with conflicted conviction. When my father and brother were able to buy 45 acres of badly eroded river bottom land, they planted thousands of trees and bushes and excavated ponds and backwaters. Once they had lots of muskrats; now fewer muskrats, but sandhill cranes and otters (for the first time in about 100 years). Hand-picking corn left virtually no waste. With mechanical corn pickers and modern “corn heads,” spilled and wasted grain increased.  So did Canadian geese, snow geese, and deer. Deer numbers locally may be declining after harsh winters partly due to competition from elk which themselves had been in decline for maybe 100 years. Deer and elk both benefit from improved hay crops, pastures, and unfenced storage of winter feed. Improved transportation systems brought us root maggots, clubroot, and hawkweed. This prompts many people to use insecticides and herbicides which af

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One thought on “The Consequences of Doing or Not Doing

  1. Thank you for this lovely piece. As usual, I like writing that mirrors my own beliefs.

    My experience has been that the more I focus on ecological thinking and practice, the better things get on the property I manage. The water leaving our ranch is much more clear than the river it flows into. We field calls weekly from people who want to hunt the huge flocks of wild turkeys in our pastures. I get to watch Kestrels and Harriers work every day; all good signs of a healthy ecosystem, I think.

    My only concern is that I seem to be running out of obvious eco-projects to work on. I may have to begin looking for another property to experiment on.

    Thank you again.

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