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From Common Respect to Reverence - What is it?  RSS feed

 
                            
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I was just re-reading the post Paul made a couple of weeks ago about his bee class and the Reverence they had for the bee‘s and the hive. I have thought about it quite a bit while I have been finalizing my property search in Arizona and now am packing for a trip further North up into Utah and Montana. I am moving my farm from the desert and basically starting over in the high country, building much of it all over again, so I like the idea of also building a solid “mental” foundation of deep Respect or Reverence.

It really struck me when Paul said: “I have to say that for every class I have ever taken ... every farm I have visited ..  and I have visited a lot ...   I have never experienced such respect for the animal in question - in this case, the hive.   I would say that in this case it went beyond respect and into a realm of reverence.  I think that there is much to learn about being stewards of the land and stewards of animals…”

And then the kicker: “If you are a beginner, you should learn how to care for an animal to this depth FIRST and then start to explore how you can profit, as a farmer, without changing the depth of respect.”

As a farmer I am a beginner, and will be for some time. I feel like overall I do have a great deal of respect and I would like to learn from real experts, learn to move even deeper… to Reverence? I am not sure I have ever seen reverence in this regard. The folks I have met here in Arizona that are farmers or into Permaculture all have respect, some a great deal of respect for their land, their plants and animals.

While reading this morning I came back to this post because a very deep respect or reverence just feels like the right solid foundation to build upon. If I can understand what this means and make this the farms core value, or vision, or mission statement or whatever you want to call it…moto? Motto? Maw..Toe? - Moto! Then many things will fall into place.

And then the thoughts arise of such reverence that things slow to a snails pace because everything must be right, or maybe just left alone because nature does it better than anyone, or maybe I am misunderstanding Reverence? and…well I am a recovering perfectionist that has learned over the years…especially after having two energetic boys…. to let a lot of things go with a smile.

Some of my highest personal intentions are to have a great deal of Gratitude, of course Respect, and a Loving Kindness towards all of life….including myself. I am at the point where I need to harvest a few animals for the first time and because I have a great deal of respect I am struggling with how to do it. I would like to know more about how the folks that have this ability to care for the animals to such a great depth do it and deal with it.

So what is it….what does it look like, and what does it feel like to go from Respect, which in my experience most small family farms have, to Reverence?

Thanks!

Marty

 
paul wheaton
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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I think I could fill a book with my obnoxious opinions on this subject.

I think the first thing I want to say is that if you make it a motto or if you put it in your marketing stuff, or (shudder) put "reverence" in the name of your farm, I think you are doomed to fail.  If nothing else, someone will point out that as you walk you kill millions of microbials ....  So if you have "Marty's Farm" and your motto is "I do things Marty's way" and you might explain that today, part of that is your concern for a lack of respect that you see on the farms of good people ....  then you leave an opening that you are not trying to be perfect, but that you are perpetually trying to find your own path.

I went to an cider pressing party at prag tri farm a few years ago.  About 20 people were involved in processing stuff.  But ... some folks that were harvesting apples would take a tarp, lay it under the tree, and shake the apples out of the tree.  Granted, it was quite fast.  But I thought of it as disrespectful of the tree. 

I went to a workshop on gentle handling of cattle which was loaded to the gills with really excellent information.  But .... the paddocks the cattle were in had no trees or cover of any kind. 

So I think it is important to not think of this as you either are or are not, but to think of this as a path that you choose.  To constantly try to improve yourself.



 
                            
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Hey Paul, No, LOL, of course I would never put reverence in the name of our farm or even much more than a casual mention on a website or something. I now regret even mentioning my idea of it being a vision or moto because it's much more important to me to live it. Anyway, to the average person reverence probably will sound quite corny and as my grandpa used to say... they will think you have lost your marbles.

I also would never intentionally put myself up as being better than anyone because I have learned something exceptional or practice this technique or that. In fact I hope I would not put anyone down either just because I felt my choice was better.

This makes me think of the folks I have met in Northern Arizona that are hunkering down for what they think is the fast approaching apocalypse or something. They are against everything it seems. And it is exhausting to listen to them. I simply tell them I am not going to spend any energy on what I don't want. I want a peaceful and joyful and healthy back-to-basics existence to raise my boys in.

So just to move past that silly idea I brought up in my post - instead of elaborating on how other farms are run, I might say something simple like: Our farm was built on the understanding that all of life is sacred and we care for our plants and animals like this…, and when we harvest we do this…. or we do that…. with gratitude.

But before I can write anything down I really want to understand what this Reverence you spoke of looks and feels like. My first guess was that it's coming from a more spiritual place? It made me think of the Native Americans when I first read it, maybe I am mistaken. I have not been able to put my finger on it and that is why I asked the question. You said that in all the farms you have visited that you have never experienced such respect. You also said it actually went beyond respect and into a realm of reverence.

Are you saying that the reverence you described is constantly looking for ways to improve? And that it’s taking the time to pick the apples instead of shaking the tree? Or building some shade for your livestock?
 
Brenda Groth
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Location: North Central Michigan
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the way I see it is that the care of the animals, land, home, whatever, is a lot of good old uncommon common sense..i say uncommon as common sense seems to be rather rare these days.

It is common sense to provide the needs of your animals..shade, sun, water, good quality food, a dry place to sleep..etc..or good common sense to feed your land and take care of it before you expect it to feed you..or good common sense to provide maintainence for your buildings..talk to your family..etc..

but if you look out over this world..it is an uncommon thing anymore
 
                            
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Hi Brenda,

I am glad you brought up common sense because right now I am thinking that common sense and a certain amount of respect go hand in hand. It seems that folks with good common sense also have a good sense of respect and would not even consider leaving their livestock out in the sun without shade …especially here in Arizona!

It certainly does appear like the common sense of our parents and especially grandparents is slipping away. My grandparents had a lot of common sense. They also relied on their chickens, their orchard, and their vegetable garden to feed their family. If they did not have a certain respect for it and make wise decisions they could quickly lose their crop. However, I don’t think they had a reverence for any of it.

The American Heritage Dictionary definition of Reverence: A feeling of profound awe and respect and often love; veneration. See Synonyms at honor.
 
paul wheaton
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The reverence I witnessed ...

A couple of years ago I took a bee class.  At the time I thought it was rather excellent.  We got into our bee suits and went out to the hives.  We had clipboards in hand and we had a document to check off all of the different things that could go wrong with a hive and lots of space for notes.  We opened the hive and looked for recent eggs.  We looked for mites.  We tried to speculate on how many bees there were and how much honey.  Etc.  And when we put the hive back together after our inspection, we tried to harm as few bees as possible.  The instructors pointed out that most beekeepers just figure you're going to kill 20 or so bees every time you look in a hive.  These folks worked hard to keep it to 2 or less.

I thought this was very respectful.  I like this. 

At Jacqueline's class a month ago, she advocated systems where you wouldn't open the hive at all.  And if you did open the hive, you would take steps to make sure that ZERO bees died.  She took a huge amount of time to make sure of this.  There is a whole class standing there waiting.  And we were already running late.  And once the class goes, there are farm chores to get to!  But, the well being of each bee was more important.  My impression is that rushing this due to all of the outside pressures never entered her mind.  This task will take as long as it takes and everything else will wait. 

A spiritual place?  It could be.  As I try these ideas on for size, I could see how one could think that.  For me, it comes from more of a "it feels right" sort of thing.  I wish to personally experience more of the path that Jacqueline was on at that moment.  Selfish?

Are you saying that the reverence you described is constantly looking for ways to improve? And that it’s taking the time to pick the apples instead of shaking the tree? Or building some shade for your livestock?


I'm saying that the moment you put an animal in a fence or a cage, or involve yourself in the lives of others, you are taking on the responsibility to do right by them.    (While one might debate harvesting a meat animal, I am comfortable with that space in recognizing that I am an omnivore and I will attempt to give that animal a better life than if it was in the wild.)

The thing about shaking the tree ....  shaking the tree just seems wrong.  It seems disrespectful to the tree.  I want to care for those apple trees a different way.  My brain thinks "respect"  - I'm not sure if my thoughts qualify as "reverent". 

I've heard of people rescuing earthworms from a site where a house was going to be built.  The worm rescue came just before the big equipment came in to dig the foundation.  I suspect that these folks where showing reverence to the worms.  But I'm not signing up for that package. 


 
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