Thursday, August 8, 2013

Trusting Nature

Those of us who tend gardens, care for animals, and try to make choices in our lives to live more simply are constantly walking the line between managing the earth and working with the earth.  No matter how subtle we work, we inevitably change the world around us: we pull 'weeds', we build fences, we collect water, we enrich soil , we raise animals in certain spots and leave other spots natural, we build houses: we improve


Lately I've been questioning that line a bit: so often when we homestead it seems like we need to control and do things, so much so that sometimes it becomes difficult to trust in the world around us.

I firmly believe that when an animal comes into our care that we accept the responsibility of taking the best care of that animal we are able to.  But so often it is hard to know just what the best care is.  I've been told that my rabbits will live longer kept in the cool basement instead of outside, but is keeping a rabbit out of site of the sun most of the time really best?  I know that keeping my garden weeded and my plants well spaced is better (it certainly looks better) but is leaving bare soil for other weeds to grow really best? 

When we decide to trust in nature, we often benefit in ways we don't even understand.


This summer our bees have tested our trust in good old mother nature.  When our hive swarmed last month, we ultimately decided to split the hive and formed another new hive.  Since we couldn't find any evidence of a queen in either of our hives, we trusted in our bees ability to raise their own (bee will take brood and make a new queen all on their own).  Sitting back and letting them do their own things was hard - why couldn't I just solve the problem and move on. 

The last 2 times we visited the hive we found no new brood, and finally came to the conclusion that we needed to find 2 new queen quick.

Five days later we still hadn't acted on ordering new queens: call it a hunch or just procrastination, but yesterday we finally went in the hives 'just to be sure' and there was brood - AND we found a queen (see her in the photo above). 

We can help and guide those plants and animals that come into our lives.  We can feed them, and measure their protein intake, or their nutrient needs (and we should) but sometimes the key to a happy, safe, healthy, productive homestead is simply a little trust in nature.

17 comments:

  1. Great post! Mother Nature knows what she's doing!

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  2. Sometimes it can take weeks for new Queens to be reared, hatched out--and then there's the wait for the mating flight, which is totally dependent on the weather. It's SO hard to wait and to trust in the bees, especially when we understand the importance of building up those hives before the onslaught of winter. Nice post! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. It is SO hard to wait - we were just about at a month, but I'm glad we waited!

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  3. Yay, you have a queen! She looks great. We've been learning this lesson quite a bit lately. I'm a bit of a control freak so it's hard, but I try to let nature guide me as much as possible.

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    1. It was so exciting to see the queen - lots of jumping up and down :)

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  4. That's so interesting! I'm glad your hive worked it out on their own. Have you read Michael Pollan's book Second Nature? He has several chapters in there telling of his battle between letting his garden and farm be free and natural, or fighting against nature to make a more productive, but totally man made farm. It's really interesting. I find that we walk the line more than falling on one side or the other. I have a very laissez faire mode of gardening and animal care and try to mimic mother nature, but protect the plants and animals at the same time. So far it's working for me! :)

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    1. I haven't read that book - will have to add it to my list. I always start the season prepared to stay in control and end up laissez faire.

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  5. Great job, Gretchen. Here's a poll for your website: How long do you have to be a beekeeper before being a beekeeper doesn't have you all stressed out? Two years, five years, ten years, after you've been stung at least 50 times, after you've lost every single hive to "whatever" more than once, when you are no longer a beekeeper.

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    1. What a GREAT question. I can't imagine ever feeling like an expert.

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    2. Lol...I don't have an answer for you, but I do love the question!

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  6. Great post! I think it is in our nature to try and control as much as we can...when in reality, we really have very little control. We try to be very astute observers of nature! So much to learn. :D You hear people say "dumb animals"...really. I think I'd trust their instincts before most people's. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. So true. I was just thinking the other day that our goats are given free choice minerals and are supposed to monitor it on their own - I can't imagine trusting our own nature that much.

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  7. It can sometimes take a month+ for a new queen to start laying but I know myself that waiting for brood sign can be a pretty anxious time!

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    1. I was not patient - especially knowing we needed to build up the hives before the winter!

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  8. My hubby and I are going to be delving into beekeeping next spring, so I appreciate any and all stories like this! My first reaction would be to go out and buy a new queen - immediately. Now I know that eventually nature will take it's own course and fix what I thought was a problem. Thanks

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  9. Great post, Gretchen. It's hard to walk that balance.

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