The newest sign at Sunnyslope Farm is our plaque showing that we are a Certified Wildlife Habitat!

The sign reads: “THIS PROPERTY PROVIDES THE FOUR BASIC HABITAT ELEMENTS NEEDED FOR WILDLIFE TO THRIVE: FOOD, WATER, COVER AND PLACES TO RAISE YOUNG.”

Renee went on the National Wildlife Federation website and had the farm certified as a wildlife habitat earlier this month. Actually it was pretty easy to do and the farm had all the elements already in place. If you would like to find out how to certify your property, check out this link:

http://www.nwf.org/Get-Outside/Outdoor-Activities/Garden-for-Wildlife/Create-a-Habitat.aspx

Here is why Sunnyslope Family Farm is a Certified Wildlife Habitat:

Food
There is lots of food on the property for supporting a wide range of wildlife. I have seen turkeys, quail, hawks, crows, robins, Stellar jays and scrubjays, woodpeckers and many other smaller birds. On the mammal side, there are squirrels, skunks, racoons, and deer.

Water
During the wet part of the year there is at least one small stream below the pasture, and there is Pacheco Creek at the bottom of the property. All year long, there is a water trough for the horses that is used by other wildlife as well.

Cover
Over half the property is oak and California bay woodland and the other half is garden and pasture. Around the edges of the pasture are oaks, conifers, and other trees providing shade. We have a lot of tall “weeds” growing throughout the property: there are several types of thistles as well as hemlock, mallow, nettles, and grasses.

Places to raise young
I have seen several bird nests on the property, the most interesting of which was the turkey nest in one of our unused animal pens. Back on May 4th I was mowing down the weeds in that area and suddenly a turkey jumped up from the tall weeds and flew away. I stopped what I was doing and went to investigate. There was a simple nest on the ground with 10 eggs in it.


The turkey nest with 10 new eggs!

I carefully avoided that area as I finished mowing the rest of the pen. The next day, I was happy to see that the hen was back at the nest. Renee and I continued to take a daily peek at the nest for the rest of the month. On May 30th we noticed that the nest was abandoned with a number of empty eggs and two intact ones.


Not the greatest picture, but this was the best
I could do to get a picture of the empty nest
with the discarded eggshells and two unhatched
eggs.

The following day I saw the turkey hen and 6 chicks (or more properly, poults) walking away from the nesting area and heading off to the woods.  That brood was the earliest one we have seen this year. Since then, I have seen a number of different hens leading their young poults around teaching them the to fend for themselves. I have also seen at least one doe and her fawn passing through. I am sure that there are lots of other families sharing our property. I am looking foreward to meeting more of them in the coming years.