I have lived here on what remains of a farm for 38 years now. I-35 took half of it, and fortunately we have a prairie buffer between the house and the highway, though we can always hear it. We are at the end of a dead-end road. Where the road turns into our lane there used to be an old stagecoach road that ran on down this hill and across Bear Creek on the bottom. The remains of the bridge pilings are still there.
I came here in the early 1970's. "Here" is north of Ames, Iowa, USA. This is a picture of me from those days. I think I prefer it to my 60-year-old picture of today! :oD Goat Girl.
My husband grew up here. We didn't have running water and heated with wood for the first ten years. In one way or another I have always been tied down here, and so have become rather intimately acquainted with these woods and prairie remnants. I almost know every stone, and there are many! I have named some of the trees, and regularly talk to them. They give me lovely twigs, wood, leaves and seeds to work with.
First I was tied down to wood stoves and chores, then to a workbench, as I engraved firearms for 20 years or so, until I got to the point where life seemed too short to keep working under a microscope, as on the bottom of this Henry Rifle:
But I still see life through a mocroscope, and am still discovering creatures and and other things in my "back yard." That is how I came to see just how beautiful these things were that I couldn't resist bringing back from the woods and prairie. I thought that there had to be some way I could bring these little every-day gifts of Nature to the attention of others.
At first they were birdhouses, but they have gone beyond that. Now some of them are also larger, like Star Siren or Weaving the Web of Life, a work in progress, pictured at the top of this blog. The little house idea is no longer a necessary part, though I may do more of them as I go along.
So I have a large collection of twigs and branches, woody wild grape tendrils, small stones, some fungus, acorns and various kinds of wood from here - just try to get through the porch! If I have a figure to carve I use Wild Black Cherry, though I have used all sorts of wood for various objects if the color was fitting, like locust, burr or red oak, red cedar, soft or hard maple, walnut, ash or hickory.
My husband is retired now and is working on this place. He has sheep to tend, and is now putting the 10 acre bottom field into a wetland program with a small pond. We look forward to seeing how our wild neighbors will enjoy that.
We feed hundreds of birds here. The bird feeders have sort of taken over. There is lots of cover for them, as I have, over the years, dragged in about every wild plant that I could find. I've always been interested in native plants. Vines do especially well here.
When I was a kid, the first thing I did when I was old enough was to get out of town to the woods. It has been a love affair ever since. Then I thought that it would always be that way, but I have learned though the years how things change. Old landowners die and the kids, who have moved away, sell the ground either to big farmers or land developers. One tears out the fences and fence rows that used to have grass and small trees and wild fruit for creatures and then spreads or sprays chemicals over everything to make it sterile for crops. The other comes along with digging equipment and parcels the ground out and houses move in. Pretty soon it is no longer a home for the wild creatures.