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Pecking Order  


Becca here this today! I've got a good story for you. And it's not over yet... I hope you enjoy :)

If you talk to any farmer that focuses on regenerative agriculture, you will quickly learn that they think and make decisions based on how it affects the entire ecosystem. Asking the right question is key since one “little” change can reap dividends for better or for worse.

One of those “little” changes reminds of an ongoing story within Yellowstone Park; highlighting many surprising and inspiring improvements from reintroducing the wolf in 1995 (you can learn more about it here: https://www.yellowstonepark.com/things-to-do/wildlife/wolf-reintroduction-changes-ecosystem/ )

On a drastically smaller plot of land, I’m eagerly watching one of those potentially “little” changes play out on my parents yard in MN. For as long as I can remember, it has been a battle between the root-destroying moles vs. my Mom. Our family has learned a lot through her adventures; basically that none of the methods, so far, have vacated her yard of moles! The earlier years were filled with horrifying poisons (not advocating that one!). Other years she went after them with a pitchfork (she wasn’t messing around). I recall a couple of years where she tried pouring castor oil down some of their tunnel openings. In the last few years, she’s used solar-powered stakes, emitting a high-pitched noise that allegedly deters them. You may as well know that the moles are still enjoying the yard.

After countless defeats, you either give up or start asking better questions! I’ve wanted to see this situation resolved, too, and happened to tell a friend about my Mom’s yard plight. My friend said she had a similar issue in her yard but took care of the problem with bacteria spores. I immediately felt my mind creating a new pathway of thinking and now felt like I had a new arsenal of questions and answers to seek out! I hadn’t considered the inherent diet of moles. I only assumed that they must enjoy eating the roots of every kind of growth. Turns out that moles enjoy grubs, earthworms, and varying insects!

In my friend’s case, her neighborhood was infested with Japanese beetles and there is a specific bacteria spore that causes those particular grubs to consume the bacteria spores and have a mass die-off. The moles then go looking for food elsewhere.

While considering this approach, I pulled into my parents’ driveway one evening where there were 9 turkeys on one side of my parents yard pecking away. Over the last 10 years, the turkey population has been increasing in an impressive way around the Twin Cities. I rolled down the window and turned off the car to just watch and enjoy the turkeys doing their thing. Soon, a light bulb went off in my mind as I looked closer: they were eating grubs! These turkeys were standing over a particularly problematic area of the yard that the moles dig up. I became so excited and refused to get out of the car until the turkeys got their fill and moved on.

Will this one addition of turkeys hanging out in my parents’ neighborhood resolve the mole situation on its own? We’ll eventually find out, but meanwhile, I’m enjoying the opportunity to expand my thinking on the literal pecking order!

Every species fulfills a purpose. Our modern practices have disrupted those purposes in so many known and unknown ways that we’ve lost our natural checks and balances, but there’s almost always an avenue of redemption available even when it appears to be a dead end!

 

 

 

 

Have a great week!

- Becca & the Northstar Tribe

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