A friend in Winston gave me some milkweed cuttings. I had read an article that offered information about several types of milkweed one could plant to attract Monarch butterflies, and I was really happy to put these new guys in the ground. I am not sure if they survived. I left for Wisconsin, there was a small drought and days of extreme heat, so the outlook is not good.
Meanwhile, here at the farm, I have been saving the milkweed. Let me just say right up front, this is NOT an organic farm. Spraying weeds is a mission. Frankly, small farmers, like my brother, couldn’t make a living on soybeans and corn, if they didn’t spray. When weeds aren’t sprayed, they are mowed. I’m not judging. I just try to do my small part, and I did prop up two milkweed stalks that had been mowed down but missed by the blade in my sister’s pasture, much to the amusement of my on-looking siblings.
I am a big fan of pollinators. Populations of Monarchs, as well as bees, have declined in recent years. While my source (Wikipedia) says Monarchs are not in danger of extinction at this time, the migration of Monarchs is threatened. The butterflies travel from Canada to Mexico every year. That is just miraculous for such a tiny little creature. They depend on milkweed for this migration.
“167 million acres of monarch habitat has been lost since 1996. The reduction in milkweed habitat in agricultural regions of North America has been cited as a major cause of population declines. Prior to the introduction of genetically altered corn and soybeans, milkweed was common in the crop fields. Conservationists cite the use of pesticides and herbicides as a cause of population decline,” states Wikipedia.
There used to be lots of milkweed in the fields and roadside ditches. When in bloom, these plants have a lovely tight cluster of pink flowers. Mom tells of being a young girl, and the kids collecting the pods for the silk, which were used for making parachutes, for heaven’s sake! We found a wonderful signed, black and white, award winning photograph in the attic from the 1950’s of milkweed and pods. As far as weeds go, they are pretty darn beneficial.
So, I am raising conscientiousness and saving milkweed, a stalk at a time. It’s tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.