Disturbance ...

written by

Joy Stephens

posted on

May 31, 2020

Disturbance ...So I've been thinking a lot about disturbance these day as it relates to land management.  In the above picture you can see one of our pig paddocks after a group of finishing hogs were given residence there for 10 days.  At first glance this might look a little alarming and you might think the land has been damaged but as you'll see a little disturbance can be a very good thing ... 

Time does wonders ...In this pic you can see where a group of pigs resided for the same amount of time last season.  There is a visible difference between the left and right halves of the photo.  Where the pigs were last season the sward is thick and dense and a deep, intense green.  On the right you'll see that the 'pioneer species' (most people refer to them as weeds) are dominating the area working to repair deficiencies in the soil.  Given time to recover and a heavy dose of natural fertilizer (thanks to all that piggy poop) you can see that the land that the pigs disturbed is now thriving!  This is why we work to mimic the natural cycle of disturbance and rest, as a little disturbance always results in a flush of growth.  *Note that prolonged disturbance (ie. pigs confined to a pigpen) will cause longterm wounds that set back growth and need intensive repair.

Parables for living ...If we approach our environments with humility and a genuine desire to learn and observe what nature has to show us we find we are always rewarded.  And while I'm fascinated by our changing landscapes I'm always awed at how farming echoes life.  For if a little disturbance and rest is good and healthy for the soil, does it not parallel that a little disturbance followed by rest is good for the soul?  On the land disturbance is the catalyst that awakens the latent seed bed, stimulates the roots and the biological activity below ground and results in a flush of healthy new grasses.  In our lives disturbance can be the catalyst that gets us thinking differently, awakens ideas and opportunities we didn't see before, stimulates us to change our paradigms and if we let it, it can also result in a flush of new growth in our lives.  We are living in disturbing times and we might be tempted to close up and let fear and insecurity dominate our lives but I challenge each of us otherwise!  Let's step back, take a look at the bigger picture embrace some disturbance and allow it to birth something new and better in our lives and in the lives of those around us!

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