I remember when getting chickens was a very intimidating thought.
Somehow we've already clocked 8 months together, and I can't imagine life without these crazy hens.
I desperately want goats and dogs and bees, and I'd take a horse if I could, but we're in the city limits so we're restricted by a few things like city ordinances.
So for the purpose of this journal entry, I'm going to focus on the smaller contributors to the animal kingdom.
The birds, bees and butterflies. The possums and raccoons and even the coyote that made an appearance in our yard recently. YIKES! I'm praying he was just passing through and won't be back to Teaquila Farm.
We even had a rare appearance from a beautiful leggy That was a special day and I got some lovely photos as he spent about an hour in our yard hunting lizards.
Let's back up a minute.
When we first moved in, the two biggest residents were rats and termites.
I'm not exaggerating. We had to tent the house and fumigate before we could even move in. The termite droppings were aplenty and if you bumped into a wall they would fall on your head. Imagine when we opened up the walls, I won't even go there.
Rats had also comfortably settled in. Well not into the living room, but the attic and crawl space under the house. Can you blame them? It's a haven here!
The property had been vacant for a year so it was the perfect place, not to mention there were three dilapidated abandoned trailers on the back lot housing who knows what (see photos at the end of this post for a view of that beautiful trailer).
So we had to refine the existing animal kingdom just a bit, and invite in some more productive biodiversity.
In the beginning, we didn't have any flowers so I don't recall seeing bees. My neighbor has a beautiful natural ecosystem so the birds would mostly hang out in her yard. We were coming up short in most areas of animal awesomeness, aside from the cats, which Chad says doesn't count.
Below are three ways we started to build our animal kingdom at Teaquila Farm.
I had heard all this fuss about supporting the birds, bees and butterflies, but to be honest didn't think much about it living in big cities the past 20 years.
I had no idea where to start, and I didn't want to spend days on Google, so I went to our local nursery and asked where I could find flowers 'for the pollinators.' I barely knew what I was asking and I certainly didn't know what I was looking for.
The lady practically burst into tears when I asked the question.
"I LOVE when people plant for the pollinators, thank you for caring!"
She took me over to a section of colorful, vibrant plants that were buzzing with bees and butterflies. YES PLEASE!
I loaded up with several variations of salvia, baby sage and lavender to start. I wanted drought tolerant plants that wouldn't require much watering since we live in Southern CA.
I felt like it was almost instantaneous when we planted the flowers that our winged friends settled in, and were like, took you long enough!
My best friend sent me a hummingbird feeder, and I got a birdbath too. It's easy to grab a few potted plants from the nursery, but we have 1/2 acre so how would we possibly cover all this space? It was time to experiment with spreading some seeds.
What is cover crop?
A cover crop is a plant that is used primarily to slow erosion, improve soil health, enhance water availability, smother weeds, help control pests and diseases, increase biodiversity and bring a host of other benefits to your farm! Cover crops should be viewed as a long-term investment in improved soil health and farm management, according to SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education).
Ok cover crop, let's do this!
Chad and I got to work spreading cover crop over the vast, empty lot and start to rebuild the soil health.
We ordered a custom seed packet with native, drought tolerant seeds including several variations of clover, California poppies and more. While I was excited about the overall cover crop, of course I was ecstatic when the orange pop of color started appearing around Teaquila Farm!
More food for the pollinators too!
There comes a point when you do what you can and then you let nature do its thing.
After some intentional planting, it was time to sit back and wait. Below is a list of some of the animals in the kingdom that started to appear in our yard. Keep in mind, I think that family of raccoons has been living in our canary tree for some time, so they may have been original residents, and no, they don't bother the chickens so don't worry!
What would you like to bring into your own animal kingdom?
Would love to hear from you, you can leave a comment here!
Stacie & Chad