Here's what we think :)
Leaving A LegacyI have been blessed to have inherited a wonderful and naturally beautiful 265 acre working farm in eastern Iowa along the Mississippi River and high bluff area. The history of the farm and its Abstract of Title for ownership dates back to 1847. The farm was purchased by my grandparents in 1943 (originally 300 acres) as a land investment only. They never intended to live on the farm after they purchased it as they ran a successful business in town. After they both died in the 1960's the farm transferred full ownership to my Mother. After she died in the 1970's, the farm was willed to both my father and I in joint ownership until his death in 2005. No one in my family ever lived on the farm, no one was living on this beautiful, naturally wild scenic piece of land nestled in and among one of Iowa's high limestone bluffs with deep hardwood timber stands, rolling pastures, clear streams and fertile ground.
Although I never spent much time at all on our farm growing up, in the past 16 years all that has changed. I am now at my farm frequently. Working, maintaining and enjoying its pastoral calm, temperamental vagarious and whimsical tendencies, native grasses, trees, abundance and variety of native plants and animals. All thriving and growing exponentially and in fair balance with each other-mostly. Being an avid outdoor, athletic person all of my life I've had the opportunity to travel, hike and explore mountains, foreign countries, volcanoes, oceans and much more. What I have come to more fully realize that the real splendor of nature and our incredible environment can also be found in our own Iowa 'backyards'. My farm has a wealth of archeological history displayed and embedded in the limestone boulders with fossilized brachiopods, ferns and much more telling a fascinating story of how this part of Iowa formed as well as the earth!
During the year 2000, an awakening maybe an epiphany occurred within me giving me a clearer viewpoint, appreciation and owner responsibility to protect and nurture the farm's natural and environmental worth to itself and the surrounding area. Buffer strips were added to tillable acres to control excessive soil runoff in this fragile landscape. A wetland was created in collaboration with the Iowa DNR to encourage the return of native birds for nesting during Spring and to collect Spring rain runoff from the upper tillable fields. Pasture ground was better maintained for invasive plant species control and stream bank restoration was initiated. Many other sustainable farm practices have been employed to help preserve the longevity and productivity of the land use both natural and 'agri-culturally'.
My farm never ceases to amaze me with its changing seasonal faces, temperaments, challenges, natural tragedies, comedies an ongoing rythym of life and death, both plant and animal. Every day there is something different to notice, accept, admire and amaze.
Our time here on earth is short in comparison to the ongoing longevity of our natural resources, our Iowa landscape. A state forester has told me one of my beautiful oak trees is as old as the Civil War. That is amazingly awesome! I will not live to be that old. None of us will. How wonderful to know that every time I visit and stay at my farm and can see that one beautiful oak tree, standing tall and forever blowing in the wind that so much of our state's history and the earth's history our in its timbers.
I am deeply in love with my farm. It is now a very large part of my existence. I am sure, or at least I hope, that every farm family and person living on a farmstead or 'out in the country' now, or in the past, feels the same way I do and holds a deep appreciation for Iowa's natural and incredible beauty.
We all need to be Practical Farmers in Iowa. We need to be naturalists, preservationists and supporters of our environment and natural resources to preserve, enhance and protect what is truly devine. It should be the responsibility and obligation of every Iowan and citizen to be responsible for our land, water, air and quality of life providing a good living off and from the land. Whether one lives on a farm or in a city, our land and natural resources should be given a top priority now and for future generations to love, appreciate and not harmfully exploit.
Perhaps it is our legacy as all Iowans to lead the country and the world in good land stewardship and cultivation initiatives. Enriching personal investment, knowledge, appreciation and methodologies in sustaining our natural heritage by implementing best farming and 'agri-cultural' practices, leaving room for all native and even non-native species to thrive, grow and be a part of our Iowa lives harmoniously. It is about leaving a legacy of abundant native Iowa habitats with wonderful natural resources for future generations to enjoy and appreciate. Keeping in balance the need for Iowa to also be a good productive 'agri-cultural' state.
"The great wilds of our country, once held to be boundless and inexhaustible, are being rapidly invaded and overrun in every direction, and everything destructible in them is being destroyed. How far destruction may go is not easy to guess. Every landscape low and high seems doomed to be trampled and harried. This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once." John Muir, 1838-1914. Scottish born American environmentalist, naturalist, writer and traveler.
"We need the tonic of wildness-to wade sometimes in marshes where bittern and meadow-hen lurk...to smell the whispering sedge where only some wilder and more solitary fowl builds her nest, and the mink crawls with its belly close to the ground. We can never have enough Nature...In wildness is the preservation of the world." Henry David Thoreau.
"I do not think the measure of a civilization is how tall its buildings are of concrete are. But rather how well people have learned to relate to their environment and fellow man." Sun Bear of the Chippewa Tribe.