Working with the NRCS
In 2014 we installed a half-acre prairie near our vegetable fields with a cost-share grant from the Natural Resource Conservation Service, a department in the USDA. This planting has a mix of native flowers and grasses. Its purpose is to promote pollinator success in our area. It takes a long time to establish a mature perennial prairie ecosystem. In 2018 we hope to try some small scale burns to help control invasive species, and to promote the long-term health of the plants.
In 2018 we have decided to concentrate our efforts on reporting data for the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas for our farm. This requires recording the dates, time, behavior and numbers of bird species we see. It also includes nighttime owl surveys. We live in a very diverse rich area, and have seen birds like bobolinks and dickcissels on the pastures, and heard whip-poor-wills behind our house every spring.
We have a trail cam that is owned by the Wisconsin DNR that we check every three months and upload the images. We have seen some nice photos of animals that live in our woods and wetlands. Anyone can be a part of classifying Snapshot photos, at the Zooniverse site and explore the data that has been collected all over the state.
We see a large number of monarchs on our landscape, mainly drinking nectar on our cut flowers and laying eggs on milkweed. In the fall, before the monarch migration, we have tagged multiple butterflies on our farm. It is very easy to do, and our children often participate. Stay tuned to our events page for more information about how to tag monarchs in your own yard.