Our member, Catherine Johnson, visited the Bird and Bee Farm to invite them to speak at a beekeeping workshop last year. There, she met the Reks, who own the farm, and discovered that they were working on making their land a habitat for pollinators, working with the Texas Parks and Wildlife and US Fish and Wildlife Service. Here’s how they tell it:
Bird and Bee Farm is a Conservation Partner in the Pastures for Upland Birds Program. Over the past 150 years, agricultural land has taken over our native prairies. Bird and Bee Farm with the assistance of our new partners are replanting our 100 acre farm to return it to Original Native Prairie-Oak Savannah Habitat.
By establishing native tall-grass and native forbes Bird and Bee Farm will provide an Ecosystem and Habitat for many forms of wildlife including; Eastern Meadowlark, Northern Harrier, Le Conte’s Sparrow, Short-eared Owl, Dickcissel, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Mourning Dove, Bobwhite, Wild Turkey, and others. This same habitat will support the Bees, Butterflies (we are on the Monarch Butterfly Migration Path) and other pollinators we so badly need to protect.From the Bird and Bee Farm website
As you could imagine, Catherine realized that working on this project would be great for our chapter. You see, there aren’t any public lands or parks where we can volunteer here in Milam County. Most of the other Master Naturalist groups can log many volunteer hours helping with state or local parks and other nature areas.
So, Catherine went to work and secured all the permissions needed to allow Master Naturalists to get credit for volunteer work helping set up the plantings, trails, signage, and other aspects of the wildscape project.
Since then, the volunteers have helped clear an area for a pollinator garden outside the farm’s chicken house (by the way, the cleanest and happiest chicken world I’ve ever seen; read about it on my blog, if you’d like). They’ve brought in consultants, like Bob Mione, a monarch expert, for advice in soil preparatio, plantings, and fencing (to keep the beautiful guinea fowl from eating the valuable caterpillars that we want to see turn into butterflies).
Our next post will be about a wonderful event last Sunday at Bird and Bee Farm, where Master Naturalists from two chapters met to learn more about the life of the monarchs we hope to attract.