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Let nature be your teacher.

 
                            
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Living on the Canadian prairies many just see the flat monoculture all around and forget the fact that the prairies are full of little forest pockets were man hasn't yet wrecked natures design. Taking a few minutes to stop and look at a little bunch of trees you have driven past many times can be vary rewarding. Often you will find the most diverse groups of plants and animals living and working together in perfect armony. The soil is the most fertile and amazing. These little forest gems of the prairies are abundant especially were coullies and valleys were Natures defences have held a strong point against our rape of the land. Not only can this be a great learning experience as we see what plants do well on there own in our area,  but it can lift the spirits as we see mother nature hasn't given up yet. I have found in late fall when all most plants are done for the year, some of these places contain deep little pockets that still maintain green plants without our help. Take the time to look and learn from around you as well as from others.
 
Travis Philp
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So much can be learned from the forest and I'd like to think you're preaching to the choir in this forum but preach on.

I can't wait to observe the woods on the land here through a full season....
 
Leah Sattler
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the forest is a mystic place and its diversity is often very close to the surface and easily visible. but natural prairies host there own diversity and ecosystems as well as deserts and any other conceivable natural place on earth. although you may have to look a little harder to see it and the cycles may cover a larger stretch of time, they have value also. 
 
                            
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Very true preaching to the chior but I need to even remind myself to stop and observe at times. Last weekend after a five minute drive from home and a short little walk a was able to spend a good deal of time watching a porcupine in a partially fallen tree were he was living on the bark. It was a wonderfull experience.
I did get pictures and video although once on youtube I lost some quality, hope you enjoy.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8A5o6PjQkvQ
 
Jordan Lowery
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the forest is where i learned a lot of my skills and techniques. spending days and days roaming the mountains, looking, observing, and just sitting and relaxing. nature is the best teacher there is.
 
Travis Philp
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Leah Sattler wrote:
the forest is a mystic place and its diversity is often very close to the surface and easily visible. but natural prairies host there own diversity and ecosystems as well as deserts and any other conceivable natural place on earth. although you may have to look a little harder to see it and the cycles may cover a larger stretch of time, they have value also. 


In my last post I meant to say:

"I can't wait to observe the woods and meadows on the land here through a full season...."

We have a hay field that hasn't been cultivated for at least a couple of years which is undergoing visible succession to a woodland. Its neat to see the balsam poplars dotted here and there, with different understory plants coming in. Every few yards you can see slight changes when you're in the thick of it but standing at the fields edge it all looks like the same old grass.
 
rose macaskie
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  Travis, are the people on the forum the choir?
  I started writting on this because there was an article here about rocket stoves, a subject i was researching, i liked organic farming and gardening and new a bit about it but had never heard of permaculture, my sister had mentioned a guy in Australia who grew trees and smaller plants all together, something i was starting to do because of the hot hot sun here, as far as i can remeber. I learnt a lot here,  I had learnt a lot of other things in other parts but i learnt a lot here on this forum others can learn a lot here.too. Talking aobut what you know is to talk about what maybe another does not know, there have been a lot o f things i did not know. It is not talking to those who know already some of them may and others may not, so everythig should be said incase you are talking to  a bit of the choir who does not know that thing or someone who is new to it all.

  Surely the point of  a forum is to spread information. If we think that we are talking to the choir we wont dare open our mounths, it is better to think that maybe some seventeen year old who has not heard anything is going to find this, then we wont be too cohibited to give any usefull advice. the young are always there to learn things, they are a renewable resource.

      I wanted to write down what i knew because of ll the evidence of ignorance abou tfarming methods not only in poor countries but also in rich ones , to incredible to be true but too true not to be believed.
      THE PPREVALENCE OF BAD FARMING METHODS AMOUNG THE POOR AND RICH, AMONG THE UNEDUACTED AND EDUCATED IS SO GREAT THAT IT IS ONE OF THE MARVELS OF THE WORLD, IF MARVELS ARE THE INCREDIBLE WHEN ITS BAD AS WELL AS WHEN ITS GOOD AND IS WHATEVER THINGS ARE CALLED WHEN THEY ARE MIRACULOUS, BUT BAD, AN ANTIMIRACLE. I did not mean to put in the capital letters but i think i will let fate have its way they seem to be well placed here.   
  Teach peoople to fish instead of giving them fish.
Some people take this to mean go and learn yourself then you will learn to learn which is one way to wash your hands of people. I say that if we had to learn to redesign the axel and all the bits and peices that make the use of the wheel possible each human being on their own, we would take a long time to do everything. agri rose macaskie. 
 
Travis Philp
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I meant no ill will in my 'choir' comment which is why I was careful to say 'but preach on' which was to encourage this conversation.
 
rose macaskie
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You mean no harm but i have often wondered if people weren't holding back on information because they thought it would be cheek to teach the others instead of thinking of the newest to the subject who need to know all the stuff. Thinking yo are talking to those who already know is a damagindg attitude though it means to be respectfull.
     If you want to keep another down get short on the information then they may never find a way of getting to know what you know.
  It is a basic of how you get others not to mind that you go in a mercedes and they go in a second hand car, The oldest tricks in the book that are so well instilled into our societies that we dont realise when we use them. among these tricks are the excuses not to tell other people things,  for instance you cold imagine they wont understand, that sound obnoxiouse but it is easy to underestimat peoples abilities. being scared that you are talking to the choir is less blameable reason for not explaining things but maybe it shows a lack of neccessary understanding of the importance of always passing on information if you think it valuable i have had people who want me to pas on stuff ithought might be used to bully people. 
      Maybe people forget how many farmers there are to feed a big country and so forget how many people need to know. It s easy to forget when it seems so difficult to get a farm that there are millions of them. 
     The successfull in their mercedes say to the people going by bus, it is natural that you should go by bus, look what you have just said, it was stupid, of course it is me who gets to ride in the mercedes, you're pig ignorant". I know that the rich excuse their advantage by saying that they are the better equipped, less pig ignorant,  i have lived with them. They dont give up information and then they say look i am here because i know more, as if they had studdied more, because they are clever rather than because their parents cuold keep them in school. the advantaged, rather thatn disadvantaged,  also compacte  their advantage by being  mean about the spread of their information.
agri rose macaskie. i need to recorrect his tomorrow i am a bit tired and might have beenrude or incomprehensible.
 
rose macaskie
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travis, some peopole explain things for idiots. That is, they do a summary that is very reductionist or they don't give the back ground information that enabled those who listen to them to make there own choices because the summary excludes lots of important information, They dont give others enough information to make a choice, they just give them what they think they ought to know. So even those who think they give explainations are maybe not really doing so . I have not noticed that this is your case, I only say it is not even safe to believe people who say they give explainations.
  Some think they are explaining when they are dictating. they tell you what you ought to think or give examples that prove their own point and miss all facts that don't back up their points of veiw. this is indoctrinating.
  People think for themselves, if you don't give them all the information they will do something which may not be a good idea, for some reason that the instructor has not imagined, a reason that seems a good one in the light of the information they do have but does not seem such a good idea to people in possesion of more information.  They don't have enough information to make an informed choice because they were not given all the information. I defend giving all the information and it is not personal my attack is not against you, if it seemed directed at you it was me being over enthusiastic  and clumsy and ofensively so, maybe being a bit rushed, there are so many things i am trying to get round to doing. 
It is fair to say that people do think they are explaining when they are short changing, because they gave the short change they think they have explained, they are not silent but it is not as far as i know fair to say you do that or let it seem that i think you do that, because i don't have a clue what you do because i have been paying so much more attention to the themes than the people who introduced them.
      People hope that with a basic set of ideas without having to go into details they can get people to do the best thing, in some cases, best thing, in some cases there is some question as to what is the best thing, what they think is the best thing but people all think for themselves, if they don't know all the ins and outs of things they will think of something that seems better to them, a different way or they will think of adaptations of your ideas that will seem good from the information you have given them though it might not be what the person who informed them might have thought of, and also may be adaptations that might not be sensible fron the point of view of a person who has more information. TThe changes in your ideas the uninformed make, are different from those of someone who does not agree with you.

  My grammar school, which is an English goverment paid school, taught us to treat everyone as if they coiuld understand things, it taught us to treat people as intellectually equals. That does ot mean that you can use a vocabulary others don't understand, it means they will understand the concept if you give all the stages of the argument, if they have the necessary information and with the vocabulary. The school treated us all as if we could decide for our selves. I liked that attitude that i have hardley met again in adult life, hence the desire to extend it's practice and the feeling that there is some reason to think it is not a principle people usually work on and so there is room for making a fuss about it, somthing i did not that there was a need to defend this idea when i was just out of school i had just left a lot of people who defended it i could not know they were an island of faith in humanity.in this sort of belief when i was just out of school .
    Those who give simplified information think they inform, it is not that they don't inform it is that the information they give is partial. This is an elitist attitude in the bad sense.  If you say you do inform there is still maybe and maybe not a a lot of things you don't touch on depending on what your idea of the necessary is. rose macaskie
 
                              
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Well on a forum like this, ya kinda gotta preach to the choir in a sense because being a forum like this, there is no congregation listening, it's kinda like rehearsal.  So, Preach on Brother

Learning from nature takes much time and patients.  Perhaps we should share some methods or tips that would help people with the patients since it is something not easily learned in our everyday modern lives.  Seeing what nature is showing us can be difficult.  AND, interpreting what we see and how to use it can have many pitfalls.  Nature is wonderfully complex and we humans rarely can see all the interactions involved to know exactly what our actions will cause  (this is why it is often best to do the minimum possible and let nature do the rest for us since she is the expert.)

Anyway, the observation (and thinking about the observation) is important because perhaps instead of figuring out how you should change something, maybe you will realize how something is better/even more useful just as it is.  We just need to realize how to utilize it appropriately.

Of course that doesn't necessarily tell you how to turn the suburban lawn into something better, and that is exactly what many of us sad suburbanites need to do to bring a little more assisted nature into our view.  And, we rarely want to transplant an exact copy of a local nature forest to our front lawns.  We usually want to pick and choose the most useful (to us) plants we can find.  I'm still kinda new at this but I'm following Paul's advice about trying to keep things as diverse as possible (for most plants, I'm buying no more than two of any one type, except where I need to provide more for pollination.)  I suppose the exception to this was the hedge of blueberry plants but even there we have multiple varieties so only two or three per variety and I'll defend myself by saying, I didn't buy them, they were a gift.

So, what are some little tips nature has showed you?  How do we best learn from Nature?
 
                            
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When I worked in the Yukon as a horse wrangler for a big game outfitter, I learned observation from a real bushman I worked with. For every ten minutes of hiking we spent thirty minutes spotting, this helped to teach me to look for natures details we often overlook or don't take the time to see.
 
Paul Cereghino
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I have found the John Brown diaspora and the associated tracking and wilderness skills Renaissance very inspiring... ("JB's guide to nature observation", "The http://www.wildernessawareness.org/Tracker"..).  There is a group near Seattle, WA.  Wilderness Awareness School.  I think there has been some Pc crossover in that community.

In particular the concept that everything (plants, wind, falling trees) leaves tracks or signs, and that the position of everything indicates something that has happened.

PRC
 
rose macaskie
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observation is not as simple as it sometimes seems it is scientists who have said look at nature for your example,all the main permacukturists have studied science. it is not as easy as it seems to look at nature to se the hypha of fungi you need a microscope to see how they take nutrients to feed trees you need sophisticated measuring instruments, maybe you could guess how hypha functioned observing how it helped the trees.
      We  have to decide what we take notice of it we looked at everything we woudl not have time to do anythign else this choice of wha tis worth looking at helps us and also means that we discount things that might be important.
      If we take observing nature as counting what scientists can tell us that extends the feild a bit.
      We have to make mistakes, ideas take unexpected turns in the road that might be bad and the faults in the systems appear with time and then we come to realise that the system does not work. Then we take up a new set of ideas tha also go in directions we did not expect them to and we have to rediret the carriage again.
  I learnt history of art, the ranaissance was a time when they decided to do realistic representations of human scenes bible ones and of stroes from the greek gods and at first they did paintings taht represented emotions with great strength but in the end they got so interested in paining the silk cloths of peoples cloths perfectly taht psychological content tok second place and the flesh and the pictures became trivial an dthe painting boring,  so things take unexpected courses. this happens with all painting movements.  rose macaskie.
 
                            
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One thing I will never forget from my second Yukon trip, ten years ago, was a backpack hunt we did in an area that had been undisturbed by man for ten years, 120 air miles from the nearest road.
On one hike we spent our morning hiking through rocky terrain and thick fog, we were on the Yukon side , the NWT border following the peaks. We crested the peak and I could not believe my eyes. On the other side a spring fed a valley that was green with grasses and trees. Ewes and lambs dotted the valley, wild of course. Thankfully no big rams were seen so the scene was left as wonderfull as we found it, but it was like a fantasy scene. Almost to perfect for our modern world, to self sustained.
There will never be a man made site that will impress me more than those lambs frolicking in that valley, or watching a silverback grizz eating berries in a similar valley. Mother nature has the best suprises.
 
larry korn
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Hey Benny,  thanks for posting your vidio of the porcupine in the tree.  I had never seen anything like that before.  Makes you want to sit tight and just watch...and not say anything for a while.
 
                            
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No problem! Glad you enjoyed, it was a great experience. I only wish picture quality wasn't lost.
 
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