"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Monday, 11 February 2013

Gently, gently... (part 1)

Firstly, please join me in welcoming Wriggly Tin to our circle of friends.

I don't see a blog on wriggly Tin's profile, and I don't know where in the world you are, but "Welcome" :)  WT - I always acknowledge comments.  Maybe not on the same day, as I am dependent on our solar panels generating enough power for me to do so, but I will do so as soon as I'm able.


When I started I pledged to myself that on this blog I would be completely and utterly honest.  Even if it cast me in a bad light.  It is only through being honest that lessons can be learnt - and not necessarily by all of you out there, wherever you are, but also lessons that I need to learn, heed and rectify.

With that said, I'm probably going to offend some people today.  To make it even worse, this posting is in the form of a part 1 and a part 2...

So, let me start by apologizing to those of you I do offend.  Please - this is my honesty and these are my thoughts, and my thought patterns only.  I do not mean to sound high and mighty - as though I'm talking down from a lofty position - I have made mistakes in my life - and a big one recently - which went against my ethics, and caused me sleepless nights.


Because I panicked and put down a small dose of mouse poison.  Just one.  And when I went out the next morning to move it, it was all gone.  But the guilt that that action caused I cannot begin to describe.  And the burden lingers.  Because it seriously went against our eco-friendly ethos.

Tanya from Lovely Greens left this comment on my "Antsy" posting:

"It's true that ants are part of the eco-system but do you think that their numbers are out of balance and need to be checked?" 

Tanya, you unknowingly hit a nerve.  Initially, I agreed with you.  But then I paused for thought, and realized that I - little me - I have absolutely no right on earth to have that opinion.

A couple of weeks ago I was working in the garden, seeing the results of the different plagues (flies, mice and ants - as well as the odd locust here and there) which have invaded our land, crops, and in some cases, our home.  Since my guilt inducing action I have given much thought to how I can gently "move them off" and away from "my" space.

But - there again - is it "my space"?
Our smallholding - as we first viewed it in
March 2008
Are we, in fact, not the interlopers?  Just because we used money to "buy" the land, and we proceeded to build a structure on it, does it give us more rights than the zillions of creatures and animals who called it home before we did?

We have, thanks to the scientists, some idea of how every living creature interacts to make this "Earth".  But we don't know everything.  And, an imbalance, in our terms, may be for a specific beneficial reason in "their" terms.  Such as a shortage of some insect food for a predator in the coming months - that this current over abundance could be a signal for them to stock up / lay down the fat layer whilst the going is good in order to see them through a forthcoming possible dry period or harsh winter? Why should we view the imbalance as just a sign that "our place" is overrun with something or other?  Why do we end up with the feeling of how inconvenient it is - for us.

Inconvenient?!!?  Us?

How selfish we humans - the supposed superior, educated, tool-using race - have become.

We have become a race of whimps.  Whenever we come across something that offends / displeases or annoys us, we immediately think of eradicating the source.  Who gave us the right to mess around with EarthMother Nature and the bio-diversity of creatures which inhabit it?

Why, and when, did we stop paying attention to Earth?  To all the lessons that she has historically, does currently and is still willing to teach us - if we are prepared to listen?  When did we become the all-knowing, superior beings?

I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason.  Especially negative things.  Like, in this instance, a plague of creatures / insects.

And if I take the time to figure it out, then I will understand and accept what I am finding offensive.  And how to gently find the balance.  With no, or, at worst, the least amount of harm.

For instance - the blame for the field mice can be laid fairly and squarely at my door.  I encouraged their closeness by providing them with far too many places for them to set up home and build the four enormous nests we found - one was even inside a 3/4 full bag of cement.
The arrow points to the bottom shadecloth corner
of my veggie patch - still lush with broad beans

which I had planted along the side. That pile
of wood became 5 - 6 times the size - perfect
as a mousy hiding spot. And the pile of cement,
once covered in plastic to protect it from
the rain, became an even nicer housing
All the wood offcuts and scaffolding planks, which, for their convenience, the builders had left next to my shadecloth veggie house.  That was also where they stored the cement on pallets - all nicely wrapped in "gunplas" (builders plastic).  And the leftover pile of bricks which I got our casual labourer to stack on pallets again - right next to our garage?!

They were all perfect spots for a cold, wet and hungry field mouse to look on favourably.  Especially as they were all situated right next to my shadecloth veggie patch - I had even stocked the larder for them LOL  And encouraged snakes to venture close to the house as there were so very many mice for it to eat.

The ants - when we dug the holes and planted the fruit trees, and turned the earth to add compost to create a vegetable patch, we disturbed the soil in which they had their homes.  And we also provided them with their own larder - I mean, as an ant, wouldn't you prefer to chew on baby corn, or tender young lemon and fruit tree shoots, instead of the renosterbos and grass diet they had had for who knows how many years?

Through gently steering them (whatever or whoever they are) back to their natural habitat and source of nutrition - by discouraging them with sticky paper, or through removing the comfortable housing estate, which I provided, whilst regretfully allowing for a minimum sacrifice in their numbers - surely that is a better option than trying to drastically eradicate them in entirety????
Our precious, irreplaceable Home
Is our over reaction and need of instant eradication / gratification of what is actually an easily, in the grand scheme of things, controllable number of pests, not a strong indication and wake-up call that we are not heeding the fact that we are also causing this gentle slumbering giant we call Earth, ill health through our actions and thoughtlessness?  That Mother Earth is adequately showing us that we, through being greedy, careless, self-absorbed, completely selfish and gloatingly "superior", have caused her a possibly fatal ailment?  When are we going to wake-up and realize that our rushed, impulsive, irresponsible actions are having far reaching consequences for our planet...?  Consequences which we are leaving how ever many future generations there are still be be living on this planet, to sort out.

All because we feel we have a right - for an instant solution to our crop problems or lack of crops.  Are we any better than those to powerful corporations who seek to encourage us to plant and grow their genetically modified seeds?  Those seeds which have been developed to deter this pest, or that disease?

I'm feeling humbled, ashamed and embarrassed.  And thankful for the lesson.

And, since moving the wood piles, the gunplas covered cement and generally tidying up all the clutter, the mouse problem is down to one solitary mouse - as far as I can see.  Plus, in the last couple of weeks, every evening I am rewarded with the sight of not one, but two, small owls who swoop round our house and delight on perching on our roof apex - obviously spying out their next meal.  I am incredibly thankful that I did them no harm.


kymber said...

Dani - i know exactly what you are feeling in your soul. you have not offended me at all...Our Lord gave us dominion and He expects much of us. lessons that we learn, by ourselves, along the way are the most important ones. don't beat yourself up, you are learning. as we all are. it is nice to see (read) how much you care. i care, too. i know that you understand this jumbled comment.

your friend,

Frugal Living UK said...

Very thoughtful post, thank you, it was good to read and gives lots to think about.

Astra said...

Dani i really enjoyed this post, i think you are right to be so honest, you cant please everyone and your views are a really wonderful reminder to me of how I like to view the world, if we were all more conscientious and respectful of mother nature, not just seeing it as 'our space' i think the world would be a better place. I admire your ethos and your values but i admire more how strongly you stick to them and that you are brave enough to share them.

Astra xx

Linda said...

Spot on! Why do we think we own it all! I feel guilt at hanging fly strips and killing ants in the kitchen. I do it but feel very guilty. I wish I could like spiders for the same reasons but they really creep me out!

The world and everything in it is so amazing! It deserves the utmost respect. If everyone felt like you, we wouldn't be in the trouble we're in.

Dani said...

kymber - Thank you for your kind words - and understand what you are saying :) However, I do not feel that I am entitled to them as I feel like a fraud and have let not only Our Lord but also myself down.

Dani said...

Frugal Living - Thank you. Thoughts are very good, actions are better :)

Dani said...

Astra - You're welcome - thank you for understanding who I am, what I was saying and for where I am at. I could not, in good conscience, mislay any of my readers, and therefore honesty is the ONLY policy.

Dani said...

Linda - Reaching out, honestly showing vulnerability and errors and hopefully helping someone else solve their problem(s) can only benefit us, and our planet.

Snakes and mice - my worst...!

kymber said...

Dani - you haven't let anyone down! and you are certainly no fraud! you are exactly as The Lord intended you to be...a very caring steward of the land, who learns, as we all do, by trial and error. and that, again, is a design of The Lord.

your friend,
(please be gentle with yourself. treat yourself the way i, or others commenting here, would treat you. promise eh?)

JaneofVirginia said...

Every few years we need to kill a mouse in one of the barns, and I cannot tell you how unhappy we were at having to shoot a fox. (Who had challenged us close to the house, and was ultimately felt to have been rabid.) God placed all of us here, and I have always seen all living things as creations of God. I would never kill anything unless it represented a clear present threat to our family. I still don't like eradicating a creature. I still take it very seriously. Perhaps since God gave us dominion over the plants and animals on Earth, and we only eradicate those in the space we occupy, then this is what we are meant to do.
Perhaps the greatest shame is not eradicating animals who are threats, but eradicating them without considering the ethics in doing so.

Leigh said...

Very interesting post Dani. I think along similar lines, lots of puzzling and questions, no answers. It started when I lost some chickens to hawks. Someone told me hawks have to eat, but don't I have a responsibility to protect my chickens? I began to wonder about our own homestead ecosystem, what it means, what belongs, and how we fit into it. We can't say that humans don't belong, because we're here. It's that interaction though, that's the puzzle. For now, as I ponder, I take a stewardship approach, i.e. that the land belongs to someone else and I will be accountable for what I have done with it. Hopefully, in the end, we'll leave it improved and healthier than when we found it.

Quinn said...

I appreciate your efforts to thoughtfully consider your own journey, and to share it with the world through your blog. But...when you interject your description of your own experiences with things like "We have become a race of whimps. Whenever we come across something that offends / displeases or annoys us, we immediately think of eradicating the source" or "All because we feel we have a right - for an instant solution to our crop problems or lack of crops" - well, I hope you won't be offended when I say I think you are painting with too broad a brush. I know many, many people who for whom neither of those statements would be true. Not at all.
Like you, and probably like many of your readers, I have had to make many decisions that I've found difficult, because there was no solution that was entirely comfortable to me. I do my best at the time. You do your best at the time. Maybe another time the decision will be different. But what more can anyone do, than consider and then choose, and then live with the consequences? We live and we (hopefully) learn, yes?

Mad dog and Englishman said...

Time to take on one or two local kitties who are used to living outside?

Dani said...

kymber - Thanks again. I just am terribly disappointed in myself for allowing panic to overtake my better judgement.

I'll try... :)

Dani said...

Jane - Exactly. And who was I to play God? I KNOW better than to kill an animal purely because it was eating a few of my crops. And, being incontinent, peeing everywhere it roamed. I reckon that that is what spurred me to take such drastic action - that and the knowledge of the illnesses that rodents spread.

Dani said...

Leigh - I couldn't agree more - the land belongs to others - and not just the human race.

Improved and healthier - that was my motivation - until I got BRIEFLY sidetracked...

Dani said...

Quinn - My sincere apologies for offending you. Yes, I was generalizing, for I believe, and am currently personally witnessing, that mankind in general does not consider his / her fellow being, never mind the animal / insect kingdom during their life on this planet.

And YES - there are many who do not seek instant solutions, and who gently try and solve their problems in the kindest way possible. I know of many too.

We are all human, and we all make mistakes. But I would rather be one of those who admits my mistake and learns from it, then be someone who makes a mistake, and carries on making it...

Through sharing my mistake on my blog I am trying to disclose where, when and how I erred in order that perhaps others can learn from my behaviour.

I feel like a fraud in this instance, as, with my spur of the moment action or reaction, I completely negated the path we have chosen to walk.

Again - my apologies for offending you with my generalization.

Dani said...

MD&E - Or perhaps allow time - not MY time - but the natural time and process of allowing the resident owls to perform their task. We have recently spied two small (baby) owls who seem to love perching on our roof apex in the evening.

Mrs. Mac said...

I don't know if we actually have property rights...yes, we 'own' our land .. but it is taxed. We are told what we can and can not do on the land. And now outside influences are dictating that in part 'private' property should be deemed as a nature trail for hikers and the likes. I have no problem with leaving the animal trails alone and not fencing in the property, but I do take exception to having a hiking trail located on a map running through 'private' property.

Dani said...

Mrs Mac - LOL - and sometimes those taxes are v-e-r-y heavy...

I've never heard of a hiking trail through a private property - that's hectic! Unbelievable!

Bee Girl said...

Dani, I respect your honesty and greatly appreciate your intention. Again, you've inspire me.

Dani said...

Bee Girl - Thank you and Bless you :)

Mrs. Mac said...

Just to clarify, as far as I know, said hiking trail is not on my property .. but I've read about it in our area.