Animals, Horticulture & Woodlands
We are part of Gaia and not just part of Mother Nature.
That might sound a strange beginning to a section on Animals, but it states the principle we follow and shows, for us, the significance or importance of the complexity of the total environment and ecology systems.
Mother Nature can be likened to a collection of creatures that live in a symbiotic relationship with their environment. In other words there is a food chain that starts with vegetation, a small animal feeds of this, then predators live upon each other in increasing size or ferocity, discharging waste along the way, until the ‘top dog’ rules, dies, rots so that the vegetation can thrive on the resulting matter. It is said that nature does not like a vacuum so an evolving niche of apparent safety is soon found to be a ready source of food, and evolution continues the process of making new species of plant and creature, even though this may take many thousands of years. It sounds mechanical, but there is an observable truth of “Nature is bloody in tooth and claw” and the ‘top dog’ is Mankind who often ignores the consequences of his actions upon the rest of Creation. That continues until part of the food chain breaks down due to over feeding or there is a change in the climate, and then a new order must appear.
Gaia, on the other hand, is more like a single organism. There are numerous cells to that organism and the organism might be continually changing its appearance as some cells grow or decline, new cells come into being and old cells die out, but the life of that organism continues. The whole of planet Earth’s biosphere is that organism, and although a simple organism may be able to live on planet Earth, a much more complex organism is more likely to be stable and thrive as a self regulating, limiting yet evolving life-form. In this situation there cannot be considered any one cell more important than any other. Diversity is stability. Extinction of diverse cells leads to the decline or ill health of the organism and, if not checked, its eventual suicide!
That sounds rather ‘airy fairy’ or New Age Philosophical, but in real life on the very local level it has bite! This works out at the Mill in that we respect the different parts of the total environment, not only that of the human realm but also of the mineral, plant, bird, animal and even the spiritual or unseen realms, and to acknowledge the most complex relationships that exist between them all. We further recognise that this complexity gives stability to the whole, so we therefore try not to exploit nor be exploited by any single group or part of it, especially human. We recognise we need all aspects of our world for Health and Life, and a balance between the dynamic and sometimes conflicting tensions of the whole.
In other words, it is not a case of “It would be nice to have some animals” or “Lets have a stab at Self-Sufficiency”, but deliberately increase the diversity of flora and fauna at the Mill. The place sets limits on the type and number of animals and plants, but the Gaia concept demands we do our bit to help and try to be aware of the possibilities. Of course it means that we seem to be going the self-sufficiency route as the fowls provide us with eggs. It means vegetables are to be grown and plants, shrubs and trees planted for cover, delight of smell and sight, and nectar flow. The bees increase fruit and veg productivity and honey, of course. The animals produce compost and keep the wild vegetation under control. That is being part of Nature’s Green Machine. But it also means that as each new variety of plant or species of animal or creature make their appearance, then the relationships between them all increase in complexity and this can be experienced as a greater feeling of harmony and dynamism all around us, of which we are a part. It is not just a ‘nice’ idea but a real experience to be involved in that people can appreciate in various ways of perception.
The Mill is a place of healing and this applies to the animals as well as humankind. Not that we are an animal hospital or vetenary service, but we have given sanctuary to various farm and domestic animals and endeavour to extend this into the woods to shelter and protect wild animals in their own environment. Sometimes it is difficult to respect their space and not intrude or cause alarm, for a walk in the woods is very enticing. However, even when viewed from a distance, their presence gives us added delight and understanding.
EVERYTHING AFFECTS EVERYTHING ELSE
So just a thought to make you think.
When we have the choice is it your natural inclination to share or not to share something? For example, I love the Mill site. I could sing its praises indefinitely for it is secluded; has many different areas of work and interest such as the Maze; is for ever changing with the seasons as it is so close to nature; has elements of self sufficiency; helping others stand on their own feet; spirituality; animals both wild and domesticated; and so on. I like to show people around the place for I am proud of it and hold its message dear to my heart. However, it is always a matter of whether to share or not to share!
A secret once shared is no longer a secret. Of course the sharing could be something that actually bonds people together, but it changes the situation as soon as that secret is told. There may be added support or insight, but there is also added insecurity or vulnerability in the telling for you are never sure how the sharing will be received.
Another way of looking at things is likened to how taking the temperature of a liquid, say, alters the actual temperature of that liquid. By placing a thermometer in the liquid then some heat is taken up by the instrument. It actually lowers the temperature of the liquid in a small way. But if the temperature is repeatedly taken, then the heat in the liquid gradually ebbs away and its temperature falls.
In the same way sharing the Mill alters it in some way. The presence of others cannot help but influence the environment. That is why we try to keep some areas really private and do our best to avoid intrusion. The privacy is no longer private. The animals sense a threat.
It is a balancing act for in the sharing we are encouraged and encourage, we are revitalised and revitalise in turn, we are challenged and so challenge others. Yet too many people will actually change or even destroy the very thing we value if they do not respect the place or ethos of the place.
A knife edge that is part of normal life at the Mill.