(Not so) Quiet time at the farm

This time of year it sometimes seems as if not much is happening at the farm. 
The cover crops are doing their thing replenishing the soil 
so we have fertile ground in the Spring when we will plant again in earnest. 
But in Winter, when we are so much at nature's mercy 
(even though we may have some winter plants growing), it's just a quieter time.
cover crops at the farm
the winter crops
While we are not out at the farm as frequently, or for as long 
as we are during the longer Spring and Summer days,
 that doesn't mean there isn't other activity there
One day I was driving near the farm and had this sense that I should stop by for photos. 
I was pressed for time and decided not to go, but the feeling persisted. 
As I drove up, I encountered an elegant egret enjoying solitude in the sun.
hard to discern at first (see to the left of the palms?)
did you know egrets are monogamous?
Since our farm is a biodyanmic landscape, we share the land 
with insects and small animals, most of which are good 
for the biodiversity and holistic environment we have created. 
So it is no surprise the egret likes the farm. 
Generally they are found near water, (salt or fresh), and feed in wetlands, 
 streams, ponds, tidal flats, and other areas. 
They snare prey by walking slowly or standing still for long periods, 
waiting for an animal to come within range of their long necks and blade-like bills. 
What seems like a quiet day at the farm to us, may be just right for a patient egret.

Egret or heron? Debates and sometimes confusion over what has been sited 
when you see one of these bird ballerinas. 
Well, actually "the distinction between a heron and an egret is rather vague, 
and depends more on appearance than biology. 
The word "egret" comes from the French word "aigrette" that means 
both "silver heron" and "brush,"referring to the long filamentous feathers 
that seem to cascade down an egret's back during the breeding season." 
So in fact, an egret (pron.: /ˈɡrət/) is any of several herons
Did you know there are 64 recognized species of herons
Egrets are not a biologically distinct group from the herons, and tend to be
named differently because they are mainly white and/or have decorative plumes.
Although egrets have the same build as the larger herons, they tend to be smaller.
 I have seen this bird at the farm many times(I know it is the same one!)
but that quiet day was the only time I got this close.
egrets are the symbol of the National Audubon Society
No surprise to me the egret is attracted to our farm, 
knowing it is not only fertile but also safe.
 "Egrets were hunted nearly to extinction for 
their plumes in the early nineteenth century, 
sparking conservation movements and some of the first laws to protect birds." 
can you see the egret flying away?
Of course eventually the egret flew away. 
They may be renowned for their stillness as they prepare for prey, 
but with a wingspan of 55 inches, their flight is beautiful to behold. 
Contrast that with another resident of our farm, 
the slender salamander we found at the farm behind the fig.
slender salamander found at the fig.
These guys are specific to California
The slender salamander "is an ancient lineage, entirely sedentary
and during their lifespan, may not move more than a few yards!"
Not at all like the egret! 
But what is like egret, is that the slender salamander
is in fact "twenty separate species." 
And like the egret, the salamander takes care of
some pesky insects and pests we would rather not have enjoying our plants.

ladybug in the greenhouse is another one of our "helpers"
and the worms create this "tea" to nourish our plants
We know we have helpers at the farm. 
Even when it seems quiet, there is clearly a lot going on.
Whether it's a ladybug in the greenhouse, the worms creating "tea" the worm bin
our egret, the salamander, the owl we never see, the bees,
it is always a busy time at the farm. 
the owl house in the Insectary
even at the crack of dawn we don't see the owls

So much for "not much happening." 

wondering what's going on in the greenhouse?
What's happening in your garden?
Do you ever see any "helpers?"

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