“The practice of respecting and venerating every being became widespread in Sanatana Dharma. It does not regard birds or animals as vile or despicable creatures. Instead rishis saw tham as manifestations of divinity. That is why temples dedicated to snakes and birds arose. Even spiders and lizards are worshipped in some temples. Sanatana Dharma teaches that in order to attain spiritual realization, one needs the sanction of even an ant. The Bhagavatam contains a story of an avadhuta (Saint whose behaviour often flouts social norms) who had 24 Gurus including birds and animals. That is why we need to be a beginner always, for there are lessons to be learnt from everything.”
Amma’s Message Matruvani September 2003
Om Namah Shivaya
Lessons From Nature
Amma tells us in the quote above that we should always be ready to learn lessons from everything, including Nature. The rabbit below, which we guess is a female, was seen gathering grass for her burrow a few days ago. Perhaps she is getting ready to give birth to her young. Perhaps she already has, and now wants to change the bedding.
It seems like a nice thing that we can all do, to look at sights like this in Nature and try and work out some of the lessons that it is teaching us. This rabbit may be showing us, for example, that it is important to take good of those who cannot take care of themselves, as she is doing with her young. We felt really lucky to see something like this so close up. She was in an area frequented by a lot of people, and was totally unconcerned by our presence, and the presence of the other two people who were also watching.
Sustainable Woodland Management
We recently attended an event in the Peak District National Park, where people were using heavy horses to move cut wood from a forest. This is exactly how it would have been done before machinery. The horses do a lot less damage to the ground than a tractor, and they are also a lot more cute (as you can see below)!!!
The wood was cut by volunteers, as woodland management technique known as coppicing, whereby some of the shrubs in a wood (especially hazel) are cut every year. This then results in lots of straight poles when the hazel regrows from the base (which it almost always does), and it allows a lot of light on the woodland floor for a few years, thereby encouraging woodland wild flowers such as bluebells. Here is one of the horses pulling along a pile of cut wood.
The winter jobs are all but finished on the allotment. We are now looking forward to planting season. We will hopefully get a delivery of manure soon, to be dug into the vegetable beds, and to go around the base of some of the fruit bushes and trees. We usually get 1/2 tonne of manure delivered onto the track outside our allotment. Shovelling it onto the allotment is hard work, and can be quite entertaining if it is raining, as we end up sliding all over the place!
The broad beans are almost ready to plant out. We have about 25 plants successfully germinated from 30 seeds. There always seem to be a few seeds that just go rotten. Maybe these ones weren’t viable.
We recently completed a new fruit area, here as you can see in the photo below. We have 2 redcurrants, 1 blackcurrant and a cultivated blackberrry, and the ground around them is covered with cardboard to suppress weeds, at least until the bushes are all established. They were planted with several spadefuls of our own compost, plus bonemeal (which some people may not be happy about using) to help feed them over the coming years. We wish them luck for the future.
We noticed in the autumn that we had a disease on one of our apple trees called canker. We have now noticed that it is on the other apple tree. The photo below shows how it can scar trees. This tree had 1 apple last year, when a lot of people had a bumper crop of apples, which we think might be caused by the canker.
This is quite worrying, and really needs to be sorted out (we should have really done something this winter). We will let you know what happens and if we managed to save the trees.
At home our tomato, aubergine, cucumber and butternut squash seedlings that we planted a few weeks ago are doing well. Unfortunately our sweet pepper seedlings are not. We have them in our living room by the window, underneath a clear plastic cover (like a mini greenhouse) to speed up germination, and were wondering if there has not been enough sun to warm them up enough. So we have had to sow them again.
Om Amriteshwaryai Namaha
Richard and Kaivalya