A few years back, we had a visitor, a friend, a fellow named John who with his partner Suzanne, lived in Fairbanks. At the time he observed that we were being good land stewards. I dismissed his comment because even then, the term seemed cliched, like something someone who had read a lot of Wendell Berry might say. I had read a book or two by this fellow – what he said sounded to me like reverb – nothing was new to me, it was all common sense. Yeah, small scale agriculture was taking a beating, yeah, we needed to focus on growing our own crops, yeah, we needed to eschew large corporate entities like Monsanto who are heavily into the use of GMOs and pesticides. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Tyra making a mess of the agility equipment
Yesterday, finally, I gave more thought what I now see as an all-important term, which is, stewardship. Stewardshipis an ethic that embodies the responsible planning and management of resources and living things. In addition, to being applied to the environment, nature, and animals, the concepts of stewardship can also be applied to one’s health, information, even theology.
Yes, I gave more thought to this term yesterday afternoon and evening. I first worked in the Playground of Higher Learning, first disassembling the old course, and then putting up the new one. I was accompanied by Tyra, who first attempted to help me in setting it up, and then doing a run through. Hrimmi and Raudi then appeared, and I did a run through with them too. Tinni, I noticed, was down in the yard grazing as were the goats.
I noticed that they all are in excellent health. Their coats have a glossy sheen, and they all are of good weight. Most importantly, they have a kind and inquisitive look in their eyes. I next ventured down to the far end of the property, the animals ambling behind. I passed about 25 upended buckets, all of them containing horse manure. For the past two years, our good friend and fellow land steward Bill Schmidtkunz has been taking the full buckets and emptying them on an area close to the Matanuska River, this way creating a grassy strip. It’s now a lush, grassy area. If he had not been doing this, this land across from his house would be a parking area.
I then resumed work on my permaculture project. I’d cleared weeds out of this area – today’s task involved putting down cardboard, and on top of this, grass seed. I then sectioned it off using an electric fence post and baling twine. Grass will now supposedly grow in this once weed infested area. The goats and the horses, close by, grazed on brush browse.
I’m now quite proud of my efforts because it is testimony to the fact that I’m being ecologically resourceful. I used cardboard that was destined for the recycling center. We would have used gasoline and oil, a non-renewable resource, in taking it there. I also used our own compost, a soil amendment that contains goat, horse, and chicken poop and kitchen scraps. And I used old baling twine in constructing my enclosure. We purchased grass seed and the electric fence post many years ago. Neither was being used.
Now this is the plan: I am going to continue this experiment, and make more patches, in other parts of the yard. And I am planning on planting herbs as well as grass seeds in these areas. This will be good for the animals, who being selective grazers, tend to seek out what they need in the way of nutrients.
As I looked at my handiwork it occurred to me that I should have done this years ago. Then I realized that this is an extension of my early interest in animal health and wellbeing. I am, in my own near miniscule way, making the planet more habitable.
Ideas abound. I would like to assist others in this endeavor, if they are interested. I could section off the animals on their property, and in this way partially clear out the weeds. Then I could put in patches, like here.
First things first. I’ve used up all our cardboard and I need to find another source.
Next: 247. 9/7/19: Stewardship: Switching Gears