Is Your Farm an Ecosystem in Balance?

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Photo by Jacques Tournel

We live in a time when we are experiencing worldwide disruption of the Earth’s diverse ecosystems. And as a result of these profound disruptions, worldwide pandemics of disease, as well as local epidemics like the Lyme disease in eastern North America, continue to plague life as we know it.

Human Health is inextricably tied to the health of animals and the environment.

Human health is tied to the health of animals and the environment BUT our human behaviors are also tied to the rest of life on our planet; human behaviors are causing profound disruptions and are the underlying cause of the massive spread of disease today.

And these behaviors are uncontrolled human population growth, and this leading to humans taking over vast areas of the planet. This leaves very little space for the rest of life to survive, many wildlife forced to live in close proximity to humans. In addition, our large carnivores are being wiped out by the continued perceptions of the past.

And as wildlife habitat is destroyed, biodiversity is lost. And when biodiversity is lost, so is the resilience of the life forms left behind, causing them to more easily succumb to disease. Add to this the serious and outright killing of major carnivores whose presence, protects and supports biodiversity, and keeps their prey populations in balance.

SO YOUR FARM is a microcosm of Earth’s larger ecosystems. Your farm is an ecosystem that can be disrupted or it can be one that is rich and biodiverse. And when your farm is in balance and biodiverse, the Earth will protect you from disease that can affect both your farm animals and you.

Dayton Hyde, a highly respected rancher and writer shared his experiences regarding the value of an important carnivore on his ranch. This is what he had to say:
“I thought of other species on the ranch. Without flickers, badgers, trout, deer, or chipmunks, the ranch still would have flourished. But if I took away the Coyotes, the whole system fell apart. In fact, if I were to design a kit for the beginning rancher, a pair of Coyotes would have to be included.”

Carnivores like Coyote play THE vital role in protecting from disease and keeping the balance by the part they play in the predator-prey relationship. So you want to make sure you save a place for them on your farm. You want them to be present, and you want them to thrive …so you need to make sure there is habitat and plenty of prey for them. If you do……THEY WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU!

Geri Vistein, Carnivore Conservation Biologist


The Benefits of Multispecies Grazing

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Photo by Billy Foster

Here is just another way to farm successfully, in the company of carnivores: Multispecies Grazing. Actually this form of farming mimics nature for there is always a diversity of grazers in a healthy natural ecosystem. And when there is this biodiversity on your farm, it all comes into balance, is resilient and healthy.

Our wild predators recognize SIZE when they seek out their prey. Large herbivores can be and are a serious threat to them, and they will think twice before attempting to hunt in their presence. So in the presence of cows, llamas or donkeys, your sheep are much safer from predation.

BUT ~ there is also what is referred to as predator pressure. This pressure can either be slight or great. You can participate in making it be slight. First: provide sufficient habitat on your farm for the carnivores AND their prey. By doing so you are allowing them to have a good living without looking toward your farm animals for sustenance. Second: protect your resident carnivores, especially ones like Coyote, Cougar and Wolf who have complex social systems. By supporting the presence of a stable family group, you protect your farm from all others.


See attached link:

Multispecies Grazing: A Primer on Diversity
Lee Rinehart, Agriculture Specialist

The Biggest Little Farm

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We would like to highly recommend this excellent film of John Chester and his wife Molly. It was their goal to create a farm that would be ecologically healthy and robust.  And so they set out on an adventure with results they could never have imagined.  So let them take you on this journey.

But we would leave you with this thought ~ What they discovered was the immense importance of the predator prey relationship in order for their farm to be successful. They did not use this scientific term, instead they experienced it.

And finally, note how their relationship with Coyote taught them some powerful lessons: lessons about how we humans view different predators…the ones we fear, such as wild canines and snakes, and ones we do not fear, such as owls and hawks.

You may need to watch this film more than once. And every time you do, you will realize something new!

Lyme Disease and your Farm’s Ecosystem

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Photo by Dave Conlin.

Lyme disease has become an epidemic in the United States. The bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, that causes it, and the vectors that carry it continue to create an unbroken cycle of this disease.  In fact the bacterium that causes it is present worldwide, and it is a highly evolved bacterium.

Epidemics are not like the flu that comes once a year and then is gone. Instead they are a manifestation of a serious lack of balance in the ecosystem on Earth. Here in the United States, the dramatic changes in the landscape due to the clear cutting of 97% of the forests of the continent, along with the killing of immense numbers of our important carnivores were the beginnings. And as a result of these initial behaviors, the populations of the white footed mouse, the carrier of the bacterium, reproduced in great numbers as did the deer, whose large bodies the adult ticks breed and feed upon.

Scientists in this country are struggling to understand this bacterium that is causing this epidemic, an epidemic that is growing exponentially every year. BUT if we do not see ourselves as members of a larger community of life, and recognize what we really need to do to end the epidemic, it will continue. 


SO YOUR FARM ~ Recognize your farm as an ecosystem that needs all its members. Protect yourself from this epidemic by welcoming carnivores like Coyotes especially, to create the balance…by hunting the rodents and keeping the deer on the move and their numbers in balance.


Farming of the Future & You are Invited

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This is how a COLLABORATIVE EFFORT can be a great support to our farmers seeking to farm in peace with the carnivores with whom they share their land. We are so excited to be presenting this presentation together. We encourage you to do the same.

Your Farm is an Ecosystem

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Sponsored by Knox-Lincoln Soil & Water Conservation District, Maine Coast Heritage Trust and Midcoast Farmers Alliance. 


Whole Farm Biodiversity: Co-existing with Carnivores ~

An ecosystem is defined as “a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment,” yet the term is rarely used to describe a farm! A farm is indeed an ecosystem and one of the key elements in any healthy ecological system is a healthy predator-prey balance. However, carnivores are often viewed as a problem for livestock farmers and their role in herbivore control may be underappreciated by veggie growers.  


On Saturday, September 29 from 1-4pm at Pumpkin Vine Family Farm in Somerville, join farmers, foresters and wildlife professionals to gain critical insights into how your farm functions as an ecosystem and how you can actively promote biodiversity to keep that ecosystem healthy and productive.

Presenters Andy Schultz and Morten Moesswilde, Maine Forest Service; Deborah Perkins, wildlife ecologist; Geri Vistein, carnivore biologist; and Pumpkin Vine farmers Kelly and Anil Roopchand will each explore this subject from their own professional background and experience. Following the presentations, Kelly and Anil will lead a tour to demonstrate how they are putting these principles into practice.

This free program is the seventh in the 2018 Farmer & Gardener Workshop Series presented by Knox-Lincoln Soil & Water Conservation District, Maine Coast Heritage Trust and Midcoast Farmers Alliance. Pumpkin Vine Family Farm is located at 217 Hewett Rd in Somerville, ME. From Rt 17, turn north on Hewitt Rd (Jones Corner). The farm is at the end of Hewitt Rd (about one mile).

For more information or to register:, or 596-2040.


Vanishing Insects & Ecosystem of your Farm

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Insects play a vital role on our planet ~ they are the essential pollinators, and without them there would be no plant life on our planet. They are also the essential prey….. the food for birds that require them to feed protein to their growing young. Without them there is nest failure….


And why ……. by the widespread use of poisons and habitat loss for them.

This is why it is so important for you to see your farm as an ECOSYSTEM. When you treat it as such, poisons are out of the question, and your land becomes a diverse habitat that supports all the members of that system.

See the link below that details this significant situation:

Carnivores control Lyme Disease

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And our farmers and their farm animals are increasingly being exposed to it. ENTER CARNIVORES!  Carnivores like Coyotes especially,  and foxes offer you the service of rodent patrol. And rodents (white footed mice) are the carriers of the Lyme disease bacterium and other life threatening bacterium.  Below is a link regarding the serious need to treat your farm as an ecosystem that needs all it parts.

ALSO… THE OPOSSUM! You may not think they are cute, but they do serious work in tick control. They groom themselves fastidiously, like cats. If they find a tick, they lick it off and swallow it. In one season, a opossum can kill 5,000 ticks. They literally vacuum the landscape as they move along.