For many years this spot on the farm has been wet. Some dry years it probably produced the most hay and grain as any place on the farm. But most years, hear tell, it was too wet to get a decent crop. With all the recent drainage tile going in around our township, this spot has been increasingly under water and hasn't had a good harvest in a few years. You see, we're at the bottom of the basin.
In the spring, when I looked at that land under water (now owning it and depending on it for part of our livelihood) I saw productive farmland underwater. It causes a sense of anxiety. Will a crop get in? If it gets in, will it grow? If it grows, will it be harvestable?
After much discussion, we've committed to putting 30 acres of our farm into the Wetland Reserve Conservation program. In perpetuity. That means this will be a wetland as long as the United States and State of Minnesota stand. Could be a very long time- but one never says "forever."
I remember being a young married women visiting my in-laws on this same farm. Early one spring morning- just before dawn- I left the house alone for a walk. This wetland had been full a couple years and reeds were growing along it. It was full of so many waterfowl I was awestruck. Ducks, geese, swans, pelicans, seagulls. I crept across the field on my stomach to get as close up to it as I could. It was magical. Beautiful. Soul filling, productive wild lands.
When a few weeks later the construction crews came in to drain it, my heart burned. But it wasn't my land. It wasn't my livlihood. It wasn't my future.
But now... Now It is my present. And now it will be a wetland and pond. In the spring the water will look lovely. It will be our own wildlife refuge- soon to be surrounded completely with pastureland and next to the larger USFWS Waterfowl Production area. In the winter we will sled down the soon to be build embankment, ice skate on the pond. There will be rafts to build and float around on. Frogs to catch, turtles to watch. Green pastures to lie down in. There will be wildlife to crawl out on our stomachs to watch with wonder.
The gift of good land turned to good use.