Friday, September 14, 2012

Malabar's Butterflies and Blue Skies

Some of the best advice I've had in a while came from the book, Among the Ancients (featured in my last post.) It recommended therapeutic nature time for environmentalists.  Too often we are too busy "saving nature" and need to remember to slow down and connect with nature- to recharge our batteries, so to speak.

Meadow Fritillary on Wingstem,  Verbesina alternifolia
 Yesterday I planned my arrival at Malabar Farm State Park with plenty of time for a walk to connect with nature before an important meeting.  The Meadow Fritillary along the gravel drive did not let me down.  I've not seen too many Meadow Frits this year, but Malabar's fields are a good location for them.  Their host plants, Violets grow in and along the edge of the woods.

Common Checked Skipper on Aster
The Common Checkered Skipper is not common at all!  In fact, it is quite unusual in most of Ohio.  But is has been a regular occurrence near the old Victory Garden.  Let's hope someone doesn't get too vigilant in weeding or mowing that area, as their host plant seems most unremarkable.

Common Checkered White laying eggs on Common Mallow
 Here is our little skipper laying eggs on a Common Mallow or Cheeseweed,  Malva neglecta.

 Common Mallow is a weedy little plant, and indeed, it is a non-native.  However, it has been supporting a nice population of these Checkered Skippers for the last four or five years.  So it is a "weed" we might want to conserve.

 Just down the lane from the Victory Garden lies the grave of  Louis Bromfield, author, lecturer and above all American farm conservationist.  Malabar Farm was his home and we are fortunate to have these unique habitats preserved for the quiet enjoyment of the public.

It was all blue skies yesterday, but there is a forecast for change at the farm.  Finances are tight and the Big House is in need of repair, but even more troublesome is the state of the American farmer.  Our farms are the weather vane for our whole county, and big changes are in the wind.  Just as surely as farm run-off is feeding the toxic blue-green algae in Ohio lakes, good farm management can reduce chemical use and run-off.  And this was Louie's mission, better farm practices and healthier soils.

Perhaps, this is a call to “arms.”  We need to roll our sleeves up and go to work to make Malabar the mecca for sustainable farming while protecting the woods, wetlands and biodiversity we all love.  I hope you will join us.

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