News from Redbay Farm and La Casita

Thank you for carolina bays and pocosins?

What?  Don’t know what a carolina bay or pocosin is…then I recommend you read through this document published by the US Geological Survey titled “The Ecology of Shrub Bogs (Pocosins) and Carolina Bays: A Community Profile.”

La Casita, our guest house, is part of the development of Deer Run here in Swansboro.  Once the wetlands survey was done on the land where the development is located the developer learned that they could only build a limited number of homes on the few high places on the land that was once owned by the C.T. Russell heirs and referred to as the “Little Plantation”.

Deer Run is characterized by a dozen or so very large lots that accommodate the Small Wetland Communities characterized by pine flatwoods, pocosin, vernal pools and small carolina bays. Deer Run averages about 32′ in elevation and is relatively flat.  One accepted definition of a pocosin is “a high swamp”.  Carolina bays are eliptical ponds, lakes or depressions which are oriented northwest to southeast. Two small Carolina bays are located in Deer Run.  These are ephemeral ponds meaning that they dry up during most summers. The carolina bays are important fish free breeding bodies of water for amphibians.

Marginal Land for former Slaves?

Redbay Farm, was part of what was called the “Little Plantation” and about half of our forest is high pocosin and flatwoods pine swamp.  It is land that is very marginal for farming.  However it is amazing wildlife habitat. It and the land which surrounds it was land that was occupied at one time by the local African American population. While I don’t know for sure my guess is that the name “Little Plantation” was a bit of a throw back to the post Civil War era when I speculate former slave owners “gave” their former slaves land…albeit usually the most marginal land on their plantations and apparently in some cases “lifetime” non transferable rights.  The “Little Plantation” lies just outside the old city limits of Swansboro which fits with the racist characteristics of society at the time.  In my forest I have found numerous indications of a variety of homes and small farms (farm implements, plow points etc, trash piles etc.).  When I was a child I even remember John Moore harvesting corn using a mule cart.  In old house ruins on my property I have found remnants of newspapers from the early 60’s.  During the 60’s the houses were abandoned which corresponds with African American migration to the west and north.

Yet great habitat for wildlife!

At Redbay Farm we have superb wildlife habitat.  We have a large deer herd, coyotes, bobcats, raccoon, opossum, and many other mammal species.  Yes, we have reptiles too! Plus, many types of amphibians.  Stay at La Casita in the spring and the frogs can sometimes be so loud you have to yell for someone to hear you.  The habitat also attracts a wide variety of birds.  We see many birds.  Some are residents and some are just passing through.  Some are predators.  Unfortunately, yesterday a very large Red Tail Hawk killed my old rooster, One Eyed Willy right behind La Casita next to Dragonfly Pond.  He was very alert even in his old age.  But I Imagine the hawk came up on his blind side.  He was a good rooster.  I’ll miss his low soulful crowing in the morning.

Living here is a blessing.

I hope you enjoyed my ramblings on history, ecology and wildlife.  Gotta go.  I need to find the girls outback a new beau.  Have a Merry Christmas!  See you next year!