My wife and I both enjoy watching wildlife of all types and I enjoy hunting a few specific animals.
The secret to attracting a diverse animal population is providing food and cover for them. We have been working for years to improve habitat for songbirds, deer and turkey by planting trees and bushes that block the wind and give the animals privacy to raise their young.
Some of the cover has been more successful than others. Pine trees block wind and snow as well as providing cool, shady areas for summer lounging.
All sorts of animals benefit from a stand of pines, but I think we will not be able to provide this comfort for them. Of several hundred nice little pine trees planted last year, perhaps eight have lived so far. The deer really enjoy munching on tender pines. The ones that did not get eaten completely gone are very short and bushy. It is hard to explain abstract concepts, such as patience, to a bunch of deer.
For food plots, I usually put in mixed seed called rooster booster or a sorghum mix. This is designed to increase pheasant and quail population, but everything from goldfinches to turkeys also enjoys it.
This year, I decided on another added attraction. I heard turnips were a great food source for wildlife and would make the winter easier for deer and turkeys. They could paw through the snow, did up a turnip, and have a tasty nutritious snack in the middle of the winter. How hard could it be to plant an acre or two of turnips?
I was well into the planning stage of the new food plot when the thought occurred to me: "Where does a person buy enough turnip seed for an acre or two?" I know the garden centers and hardware stores have little packets for a dollar or so, but it would take a lot of little packets and dollars to plant a couple of acres.
It was then I remembered John at Drakesville Feed and Seed. He is one of the few people that will not laugh directly at you when you ask questions like where to get enough turnip seeds to plant a food plot. I am sure he has a good laugh when I leave but I appreciate the fact he does not laugh right at me.
John's main business is dealing with real farmers doing real things like making a living. When I pulled in, he was directing as trucks were loading several tons of fertilizer. These loads most likely were not going to someone's food plot. During a break between trucks, he asked what I needed. I asked if he knew where I could get a bunch of turnip seed.
"Sure," he said nonplussed, "I have a bag of it here."
Turning to a 50-pound sack in the corner he asked, "How much do you need?" I somewhat sheepishly responded with "I was hoping you would know."
He asked how many acres I was planting, went to a chart on the wall and started bagging up my turnip seed. This was not the first time some part-time farmer had come in with a strange request.
Since I was on a roll and John seemed to know a whole lot more about turnips than I did, I asked about planting directions. He knew that too. I have decided the guys that run small-town feed and seed stores must stay up late at night thinking up every question some crazy customer might ask.
I now am the proud owner of a couple acres of turnips. They did as well as John said they would and are actually quite tasty. I hope the wildlife enjoys them as much as I do because it is a very successful food plot.
Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Bloomfield, Iowa.