Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Balancing on a Few Square Feet

Deus Ex Machina published a really interesting post recently. His focus was on respecting and appreciating the gifts we are given - often without any spent energy on our parts. I referenced those gifts in my recent commentary on stuffed grape leaves. Granted, we planted the grape vine, and without it, there would be no leaves, but after we planted it, we have done very little else with it. The base of the plant is as thick as my calf (shut-up ... I don't have fat ankles!). The two discussions had me thinking about our nanofarm.

With so little space to plant, nothing in my yard grows in a monoculture. Cabbage and onions share space.

Peas push up through the pak choi, which shares ground with a tomato seedling.

Big Little Sister's Warrior Cat garden is a study in cooperative growing.

Even the animals have to share space. The chickens, ducks and rabbits all share the 512 sq foot yard we built for them (to keep them out of the gardens).

When one lives on a small space and subsistence is the goal, the need for cooperation, sharing the hardships and the joys, is necessary, and everyone has a job, and everyone must do his job. The beans fix the nitrogen in the soil so that the borage can provide pollen for the bees so that the bees will give us honey.

I watched a white butterfly flit into the animal yard today. I love watching the butterflies and other flying insects and birds enjoying my herb garden. The butterflies particularly love the milkweed (a volunteer), and hummingbirds are attracted to the bee balm. So, I took an interest in the little guy as he floated through the fence at, roughly, eye level of the ducks. I had a moment of panic, though, when I noted that Padoda was interested for a completed different reason, and I sent a mental warning to "fly away! fly away!" The butterfly made it out, unscathed, but not before the rest of the flock noticed and started snapping, too.

As much as I would have been sad to see the butterfly become duck or chicken food, I was reminded, in that moment, that the ducks and chickens were simply doing their job, too. They were eating bugs, which they need to make the eggs, which we use to sustain ourselves.

It's a balance, isn't it? Precarious and precious.


  1. Wendy,
    I very much relate to this mornings post. Some days I see the importance of the balance and other days... well lets just say I have to remind myself. You hit me at a good time for I had just finished cleaning up from butchering this morning, a task that I find nauseating but necessary. Thanks for the much needed reminder.

  2. And this is why I'm always happy to see the coyote trot through our yard: it helps keep the garden pests (rabbits, squirrels, and quail) in check. The dogs may not like sharing their space with it, but they don't have free run of the whole acre so they can't keep the pests down as well.

    I can't wait until we get more gardens set up!

  3. we cherish our bio-diversity here. we continually experiment to see what can co-flourish in our farm. we just brought home two lambs. it might be another fiasco or it might be a reoccurring visitor like our pigs. all i know is, lamb is my favorite meat and affords latitude beyond many others we have tried.