Do you have those synchronous moments when seemingly random events collide? That happened to me recently with the idea of invasives.
First, week before last we were busy battling centipede grass. It has invaded some of our pastures. This is a problem because it stays short--too short for the cattle to eat it. Therefore, a pasture can be full of grass and yet the cows go hungry. Ironically, we intentionally introduced this plant onto the farm because of its tolerance for low Ph and poor soils. We would love to have this grass in our front yard because it saves energy since it does not need to be mowed regularly--something we do with the Bahia because of my allergies. So, we rented a sodcutter, cut the centipede sod in the pasture, cut the bahia sod in the front yard, and switched. Now we will see what happens.
Next, one night last week I saw a sweet big-eyed tree frog in the fig tree eating my figs. I let it be--it was truly beautiful. The next day I searched the internet to identify it. Turns out it was a Cuban tree frog--an invasive. Turns out there is a professor who has his research assistants working on projects to do away with this cuban invader. (Check out the instructions on how to gas the little bugger: http://ufwildlife.ifas.ufl.edu/cuban_treefrog_inFL.shtml )
Finally, with my mom I attended a presentation on native plants. As part of the display there was a book called "Invasive Plant Medicine: The Ecological Benefits and Healing Abilities of Invasives." I've been reading that book and it is changing the way I think about invasives because it makes a strong argument that invasives are natural and are very useful to our soil and our earth.
Actually, my thinking about invasives initially was challenged when Boots and I attempted to make a garden for the Administrative Offices of the park. The park administrator at that time wanted us to use only native plants. This led us to a conundrum--how far do you go back in a plant's history to determine if it is native?! Even corn--that quintessential native plant food--has only been a native for 8000 years! So, where do you draw the line? We ended up dropping the project because we were unable to decide what qualified as native!
My thinking was also challenged when I found out that the "invasive" African bees (killer bees) are much stronger than the European bees (that ironically we call "native") and so are able to withstand hive collapse.
And then there are the cowbirds which do such a great job of eating the hornflies off our cows and cleaning the grasshoppers out of our fields. The story is that these immigrants came over from Africa on the backs of a hurricane.
So, this is what was on my mind yesterday when John and I were watching a video on hay-less winter grazing. It is a recording of a gentleman in Crescent City, FL who is grazing his 200 head of cattle year-round. He a native of Mexico and is using many of the things that have been working for him on his ranch there. One of his strategies is to plant Mimosa and Honey Locust in his fields. Both are considered invasives but both are legumes which means as "nitrogen-fixers" they are medicine for the soil. (More information: http://farmprogress.com/story-valuable-silvopasture-has-edible-trees-14-98044 )
Although I have relatives who moved to this continent in the 1600's, many people would consider me an invasive. Just today I was called a Yankee and told that "GD Yankees are the ones who won't go home." I guess that means I am most definitely an invasive. Perhaps that is what makes me so tolerant of my fellow invasives on our farm.