Where the Wild Things Are
I grew up in rural Texas, where people made a living farming and ranching (no one called it “homesteading” then), and huge swaths of open land still exist. We played in the coulees and creeks around our house that provided wildlife habitat & our family dog was a half-coyote mongrel runt we found while out on some adventure or another. We routinely “rescued” coons, ‘possums, snakes, horned toads, and birds, which of course my mom would always have us release. Wildlife had a home there.
Then I lived in Montana for eight years, where I once stood less than twenty feet from a black bear cub, without the benefit of a fence between us. Not intentionally, I promise you, and we booked it out of there as fast as we could. Where there’s a cub, there’s a mama, and we had no desire to meet her. Wildlife had a home there, too.
Our last move was to a larger city in Oklahoma, still our current abode. There is no real green here. Birds nest in the trees at the mall, and I wonder what their food source is. Squirrels are practically epidemic, as there are no natural predators to keep them in check. They are desperate for habitat, too, it seems. One nested in our car engine, with the resulting damage totaling up to several hundred dollars & one dead squirrel.
Restoring Wildlife Habitat
In 2006, when we bought a house outside of town on a few acres, I started the work of making the property wildlife friendly. We cleared out the debris from the creek so water from the small stream could be reached by wildlife. Then we built deadfalls, cleared invasive Red Cedar and sick trees, and planted prairie mix on the unwooded parts of the property. We put up feeders in the winter. In practically no time, the variety and number of wildlife increased; rabbits, birds, quail, turkey, fox, and deer were all sighted. Where before they may have passed across the property, now they found a home there. We created an environment that provided shelter for our family and the local wildlife. This is something I am looking forward to being able to do again on our new property. I hope to become certified as wildlife friendly
Homesteading makes you more conscious of the natural world around you, and how everything has a place in that world. It brings nature back into your awareness. Nature isn’t something that you “get away to;” it’s an integral part of life, whether we recognize it or not. Homesteading brings us back to nature, and shows us we have a part to play in the nurturing of people and the planet. After years of blithely taking and taking from this earth that sustains us, I am looking forward to giving something back.