Long Live the Weeds, and the Wilderness
Rollrock farm has even more weeds than rocks, and since eradication is not realistic, the weeds and I are modus vivendi. The central Oregon climate can be brutal on plants, and yet year after year these weeds flourish, and I have to respect that. The most tenacious of the weeds, Russian Thistle (sometimes called tumbleweed), turns a beautiful red or orange in the fall.
The wilderness is adjacent to the farm, in the form of 32,000 acres of recreation area managed by the Federal Bureau of Land Management. It is mostly juniper forest, and home to all kinds of wildlife, but deer and coyotes in particular. The deer graze nonchalantly on my field; the coyotes serenade me at night.
Inversnaid is a luxury of language, with playful, painterly words that tumble down just like that stream. Rollrock Farm is my luxury, or one of them anyway. Most of the time I live in the city, but here I have space, sky, fresh air and something wild.
This is why I ended up with a farm. Note, I did not say, "This is how I ended up as a farmer." Yet the farm must have a crop, for tax zoning reasons and to preserve irrigation rights. The previous owner planted hay the year he sold the farm to me, so I tried that for a few years, or rather hired people to try it for me. This is called "custom farming." I do not recommended it.
Inspired by those weeds and the wilderness, I next had half the average planted in pollinator forage, which some might describe as weeds. Pollinators are in serious jeopardy in central Oregon. With the help of some experts, including ApisM, Bee and Butterfly Org, and the pollinator expert at Oregon State, I sowed a custom-blended pollinator seed mix. It is mostly clover, in multiple varieties so it will bloom all season. The first year yielded more weeds, i.e., plants I don't want growing in the field, than anything. Plus, now the hay planting I starved for water and burned in preparation of this planting came back in many areas--ironically now my most pernicious weed.
But, there was some clover hiding among the weeds, and the phacelia was remarkably successful, even though the deer loved to much the blooms off the tops. We'll see what the field looks like next year. I will keep you posted.
Phacelia. It is used as a cover crop in many places, because of its nitrogen-fixing qualities