Rain

I love rain. In Queensland when it rains it is warm so you can be out in it for ages.

Ants:

Have you ever wondered how ants plug up their holes so water doesn’t get into their nest? This is what we observed in one species last week, a living ‘door’

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Termites

Termites making an addition to their nest. We watched them a few weeks ago and their skills in building, teamwork & cooperation is incredible

Fungi

A few days before the day of rain we had a couple of smaller storms and all kinds of fungi began sprouting out up out of the debosia and hardwood chip

These ones looked like flowers and if they are left on paper they leave a flower like spore pattern

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Bright Yellow Fungi

These fungi look similar to coral. They open with moisture and stay tightly closed when dry

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Dams:

The images on the left are what it was like in 2015. Images on right were taken today.

What I’m Learning About The Environment & Land Recovery

I have spent much of my life so far focused on Results. If I want to plant a tree, I want to plant it now. In the past I was happy spending lots of money bringing in big machinery like tractors and graders to get instant results that then take even more money to maintain the projects long term. It was a very costly and an extremely ineffective way to heal land destruction.

Over the past few years I have had the privilege of seeing how Jesus looks after his land and shares his thoughts on how to make loving eco systems and help with environmental recovery. There is a talk on the Divine Truth website that covers a lot of this information in detail called ‘Creating Loving Eco Systems‘ and can be found at the links you will find at the bottom of this post*.

The information below is based upon my personal experience with what has been shared and shown to me over this time.

When I observe Jesus caring for the environment his main concern is working out how God cares for the environment and then replicating that any way he can. This means things take time and that there is a natural order of how to heal land.

The modern way to make soil fertile is to add fertilisers and use heavy machinery to aerate and break down soil compaction. Gods Way I’m learning is very different

Gods Way is all about holding water/moisture in the soil and creating fertility through the intelligence in the soil. The intelligence is living creatures, organisms and seeds that live in the eco system. By looking after the seeds and feeding the creatures and organisms real recovery can then begin. Fungi, earthworms and ants are all examples of intelligence we want to grow and encourage in the eco system.

The first step should be to protect the soil and allow seeds to grow. This starts with removing grazing animals that constantly eat the shoots and leaves of seeds that germinate. Each seed has inbuilt intelligence and will only grow when the environment is suited to it’s germination. The more seeds germinate and are constantly eaten by animals the less seeds the soil has for the next cycle.

Think about this process happening for 100’s of years and you can start to see how serious this problem becomes. The soil gets no new seeds and all the seeds that do germinate get eaten. Gods Way of looking after soil is no longer working effectively. No seeds and less and less plant life creates a drier environment which eventually becomes a man made desert. The living creatures and organisms that thrived in the environment are no longer able to exist.

When the grazing animals are removed first generation seeds can start to germinate. These plants are mostly seen as weeds. They have the toughest job to do. They can grow in little fertility, need less water and sometimes have a tap root to help open up compaction. In some cases they are also not very attractive to animals and are spikey or prickly. This is often the only way they can survive. Ideally they are legume plants that release nitrogen into the soil. Australian wattles are a good example of first generation plants also known as ‘pioneer plants’ that start the healing process to rebuilding soil fertility.

So how do we create an environment that supports the living creatures and organisms essential to making a sustainable eco-system?

Firstly we need to provide the Food, Water and Shelter (a home) that all life needs. This becomes the focus. In some cases we need to re introduce the intelligence as well. Earthworms are a great example of intelligence we can re introduce into the system once we have the necessary food available.

Food swales and trenches are one way we can create a home that can feed the intelligence that makes the soil.

Swales are a man made bank built on a contour. The idea is for the swale to collect and hold water. With a food swale* we take this one step further and fill the water collection side of the bank with organic matter and hence the name “Food Swale”. The organic matter becomes the food feeding the system. The organic matter used can be anything from waste food scraps to hay and newspaper or bales of cardboard. This organic material becomes a sponge that releases moisture and nutrients out slowly. It’s a fertility bank full of life. When it rains we are now collecting all the water we possibly can and keeping it in the landscape as long as possible. The landscape is now becoming hydrated for longer periods of time.

The organic matter we bring into the system we want to break down slowly through decomposition rather than composting. Decomposition is Gods Way, a slow release over time that supports the whole of the eco system and takes time. When we compost we create heat, which kills life in the organic matter and breaks down fast. Composting has no intelligence. Decomposition is full of intelligence. With decomposition creatures have a home and food.

A Trench is similar to a food swale expect this time everything is below ground rather than on the top. A Trench is an underground hole that is built on contour. The trench is then filled with organic matter just like the food swale. Its size can vary depending on how much organic matter you have available. You can build these trenches quite deep so they are like an underground water reservoir full of life on top. The benefit of the trench is that it can hold more matter and water than a swale.

The aim for both food swale’s and trenches is to create life in the system. The more we feed the intelligence the more the intelligence feeds the soil.

One of the first noticeable changes is the amount of flying insects and ants that appear. As more abundance is created bigger creatures and birds start arriving and feasting on all the tasty food now in the eco system.

It is also amazing how long water/moisture stays in the system once it is no longer been lost through evaporation and is been collected and stored when ever it rains rather than flowing off the landscape.

One way you can experiment at home is by digging a pit in your backyard and filling it up with your kitchen scraps and any other organic matter you have around the house. Cover the green waste with a layer of dry organic matter like sugar cane mulch or shredded up newspaper to help with the smell. See what happens and then maybe in a year or so plant a seed on top of the pit. You will be amazed at all the life that turns up and the beautiful soil it then creates.

Happy Experimenting

Peter

* Links:

24 Oct 2012 Creating Loving Eco Systems – An Introduction S1

06 Nov 2012 Creating Loving Eco Systems – Audio Lessons

There is an Intro and 8 Audio files for the above can be found at this link, you will need to scroll down to find it.

06 Nov 2012 Creating loving Eco-Systems – An Introduction S2

  • Food Swale- A name I made up

 

Snail Sex

I was emptying the scrap bin some months ago and came across these two little snails in the middle of what I think was snail sex.

I had never witnessed this event before and found it to be extremely fascinating.

Below are some images, which, if you have ever wondered about how snails have sex, may answer your question.

20140327 Some little creatures procreating on the compost bin

20140327 Some little creatures procreating on the compost bin

20140327 snail sex

20140327 snail sex

20140327  I think this is how snails have sex and procreate

20140327 I think this is how snails have sex and procreate

20140327 I think this is how snails procreate

20140327 I think this is how snails procreate

There is a YouTube clip with a snail laying eggs which is really interesting also. They lay their eggs in a hollow under the earth.

Observation of Dam banks & Exposed Earth

We have been observing God’s perfect design to heal the earth when it has been disturbed or degraded by us.

Fungi growing in the rocky, clay soil. Fungi are the 'fruit' of the mycelium that is running under the ground and the major contributor to creating soil and recycling plant matter into beautiful soils. Fungi is so important in our environment

Fungi growing in the rocky, clay soil. Fungi are the ‘fruit’ of the mycelium that is running under the ground and the major contributor to creating soil and recycling plant matter into beautiful soils. Fungi is so important in our environment

Fungi growing in the rocky, clay soil. Fungi are the ‘fruit’ of the mycelium that is running under the ground and the major contributor to creating soil and recycling plant matter into beautiful soils. Fungi is so important in our environment

Pete created a dam last year near our house, we call it the Big House Dam. We have had very little rain during that time and it has not filled that much going from the first picture below to being dry cracked mud for most of the time since it was created.

Note: In the last week we have had rain so I have included images taken yesterday evening 20140828 of the most water we have had yet. It is really interesting as all the water that is coming down the hill can be seen seeping through the internal dam wall and running into the dam (see last photos at the bottom of this post).

We have observed barren earth banks begin the healing process naturally. It seems to us the earth is designed to heal.

Pete planted some Lomandra along the top of the dam banks and we have scattered seed all about the banks.

Lomandra with plantain growing near it

Lomandra with plantain growing near it

It seems to me that everything in God’s universe just wants to grow, in fact I suspect it is designed to grow. There were flowers that I scattered seed and they grew in a mini version of what they were in more fertile soil. They still flowered and produced seed but were stunted, about one fifth the size of what some others we had planted in more fertile soil grew to be.

stunted flower

Stunted flower still growing but tiny in comparison to it’s same species planted in more fertile soils. The plant was approximately 10cm tall.

stunted flower

Stunted flower*

We noticed also that the plants have been healing the soil from the bottom up and the sides down. Small very close to the ground plants first appeared and different species continue to appear (such as plantain, clover, and heaps of ones I have not yet identified) – this was before we planted any seed, which indicates that there is a natural seed bank contained within the soil, which seems to me specifically designed for healing, regenerating and repairing the areas of the earth we degrade (what we call weeds) already in the soil waiting to do their job when the conditions are favourable. Sharp flat to the ground thistles and fleabane were the next cycle of dominant plants.

Low to the ground, very sharp and spiky thistle species

Low to the ground, very sharp and spiky thistle species

Big House Dam

An example of the ‘softer’ milk type thistle variety

Now there are other smaller flatter plants (not necessarily meant to be small and flat, just that is how they grow in such an arid and harsh environment) growing up and as more and more grow side by side they join up to cover the soil and ‘protect’ it.

pioneer ground covering plants that are slowly covering all the bare soil. You can see how these are joining up to create a more densely covered area. Dead fleabane that will become mulch creating soil

pioneer ground covering plants that are slowly covering all the bare soil. You can see how these are joining up to create a more densely covered area. Dead fleabane that will become mulch creating soil

Close up of pioneer ground covering plants that are covering all the bare soil. You can see how these are joining up to create a more densely covered area. As they die they will become mulch and new plants will come and do their job until the soil is balanced

Close up of pioneer ground covering plants that are covering all the bare soil. You can see how these are joining up to create a more densely covered area. As they die they will become mulch and new plants will come and do their job until the soil is balanced

As the plants complete their cycle they die it is creating mulch (this is not abundant mulch at this time, but it is interesting and cool to watch all these things happening. Note it would be faster and better for the soil if we covered it and helped it out more, we have noticed erosion happening on the banks due to the soil not being covered.)

20130615 Dam in just after it was built.

20130615 Dam in just after it was built.

20131221 some primary plants beginning to sprout and heal the disturbed soil

20131221 some pioneer plants beginning to sprout and heal the disturbed soil

20140220 some primary plants beginning to sprout and heal the disturbed soil

20140220 some pioneer plants beginning to sprout and heal the disturbed soil

20140509 The plants are beginning to sprout up and move in from the outside in.

20140509 The plants are beginning to sprout up and move in from the outside in. This is aided by the cycle and the first lot of plants spreading seeds that are sprouting and also by the plants creeping in. I am in awe of how there are already seeds in the earth designed to grow under the conditions we created through destruction

20140509 Dam, The middle row of lamandra was planted by Pete the rest are all wonderful weedy plants that are doing their utmost to cover the bare soil.

20140509 Dam, The middle row of lamandra was planted by Pete the rest are all wonderful weedy plants that are doing their utmost to cover the bare soil. I am fascinated at how the weedy plants grow and these pioneer ones are very close to the ground. I feel they are trying to cover as much bare earth as they possibly can. After these appear more begin to come up in the gaps creating more and more cover for the damaged and exposed soil area.

20140509 plant life beginning to establish itself on the edge of the dam

20140509 plant life beginning to establish itself on the edge of the dam

20140509 Fleabane that is growing up from the edges in around the Dam, doing its thing to heal the disturbed and damaged soil

20140509 Fleabane that is growing up from the edges in around the Dam, doing its thing to heal the disturbed and damaged soil

fleabane, plantain and other ground covers

20140509 fleabane, plantain and other ground covers that are ever spreading their seeds to grow and cover more and more of the exposed soil of the dam bank

20140509 Growing from the bottom up, all the thistles which have died and will now become mulch along with all types of other soil healing plants all creeping closer and more up the dam bank. I find this fascinating how plants are designed to grow, repair, and heal the soil. They do it without any human intervention and all the plants that are needed the seed is in the soil ready to heal when the conditions are right for them. We have noticed that there are cycles of plants, for example there are sharp spiky thistle crops which come up once to three times until they have done their job and then new types of plants appear, like softer milk thistles and then softer still. Each plant seems to come up between one and three times and then doesn't come up again in the same area.

20140509 Growing from the bottom up, all the thistles which have died and will now become mulch along with all types of other soil healing plants all creeping closer and more up the dam bank. I find this fascinating how plants are designed to grow, repair, and heal the soil. They do it without any human intervention and all the plants that are needed the seed is in the soil ready to heal when the conditions are right for them. We have noticed that there are cycles of plants, for example there are sharp spiky thistle crops which come up once to three times until they have done their job and then new types of plants appear, like softer milk thistles and then softer still. Each plant seems to come up between one and three times and then doesn’t come up again in the same area.

20140828 As full as the dam has been so far. You can see the erosion lines in the foreground and some of the pioneer plants on the far bank

20140828 As full as the dam has been so far. You can see the erosion lines in the foreground and some of the pioneer plants on the far bank

 

20140828 pioneer plants on the inner wall of the dam bank with dead fleabane that will become mulch and in time soil

20140828 pioneer plants on the inner wall of the dam bank with dead fleabane that will become mulch and in time soil

 

20140829 Plants on the internal wall of the dam bank. All of them have started out really small, flat and low to the ground. They are spreading and connecting up to each other. These ones started at the side, and top and ventured down towards the water. They are now getting closer to joining up with each other and making a solid ground covering

20140829 Plants on the internal wall of the dam bank. All of them have started out really small, flat and low to the ground. They are spreading and connecting up to each other. These ones started at the side, and top and ventured down towards the water. They are now getting closer to joining up with each other and making a solid ground covering

20140829 The most water we have had in the big house dam so far

20140829 The most water we have had in the big house dam so far

* The flower is still growing but in miniature version as it is not getting the nutrition from the soil to become a big plant. This demonstrates to me that God has designed things in the universe to grow no matter how harsh the environment is, the potential is there. Imagine what could happen with a little love, some beautiful soil and nutrients.

Living Systems Create Abundance

Below are images of the swales that were first dug and planted out at Octoberfest 2011.

Pete has been converting them into living systems, meaning filling the swale part up with matter, including but not limited to:

  • Cardboard bales – thank you Bunnings Armidale
  • Windfall branches and pruned and dead tree matter
  • Biodegradable household waste, including old clothing, paper, green waste etc
  • Newspapers/paper
  • Sheep manure
  • A couple of dead animals
  • Woodchips
  • Hay

We noticed during the drought a huge difference in this area to other areas of the property. The grass was greener on the swale banks, it was longer and more lush.There is a heap of fungi growing and breaking down matter within the systems, indicating that moisture is being retained in these systems. Insect life is increasing. Animal life is increasing in this area also. Trees are growing and healthier.

We have noticed that each type of matter breaks down at different rates, attracts different insects and grows different fungi and plants.

Living Systems are awesome. They create abundance when made with love and given to generously when initially set up. We cannot stress enough the importance of Love and giving generously when setting up living systems. If there is no desire to love and no intention to give generously and abundantly to the project you are engaging in with the earth, the results will reflect that, our soul’s are powerful creators.

We feel that Living Systems are a really great way to begin to ‘drought proof’* a property as they hold and retain moisture under the ground and are a food source for the intelligent life that creates soil and keeps the earth healthy at the same time.

The images below hopefully give an idea of what can be achieved in your back yard as well as on a larger scale.

*More on ‘drought proofing’ to come

 

 

Swales

Foreground: Swale with tree matter, cardboard, wood chips, notice how green the grass on the top edge is. Background: Swale with hay

Living Systems

Swales being filled with Cardboard – we fill up the swales as we collect the raw materials and as our time is available. We would not recommend digging a heap of holes that you cannot fill. Leaving bare, exposed earth creates a lot of problems and potential for erosion. Make as many holes as you can fill, fill them and then create more. Do one at a time if needs be.

Living Systems

Cardboard bales

Living Systems

Sheep manure covering cardboard bales

Living Systems

Living Systems: Hay covering cardboard bales

Living Systems

Living Systems: A living system with cardboard bales, tree branches covered in wood chip

Living Systems

Living Systems: we noticed this awesome fungi growing in the swales that had newspaper and wood chips. The fungi actually grew out from between the sheets of newspaper as can be seen in the next image

Living Systems

Living Systems: we noticed this awesome fungi growing in the swales that had newspaper and wood chips. The fungi is growing out from between the sheets of newspaper. Noticed this happened after the newspaper had absorbed some moisture. Amazing how fungi breaks down matter!!

 

Photos taken by Eloisa, 20140611

‘New Discoveries’ in the Natural World

New Discoveries for us.

God is one super loving being to create a world so full of diversity, wonder, variety, interesting stuff in such super abundance!

These are some creatures the kids and I have discovered about the place lately. We have yet to identify them. We are just enjoying finding them and watching them and seeing what they do, how they behave and wondering where they came from. They are so incredibly amazing.

For bigger images in a gallery style, go to the gallery page on the top menu bar and click on an image and it will come up so you can view it in detail.

We wish you all a life of wondrous adventures, exploration, discovery and experimentation.

In my humble opinion, God made this world a living, wondrous place to find out about God, Love, & ourselves. God’s discovery learning centre – the natural world around us – is truly exciting, splendid, awesomely magnificent and so full of wonders that if we truly engaged it with our whole soul I doubt we would ever stop asking questions and would passionately and continuously explore… For our entire existence! (It wouldn’t stop with this physical world we live in or our earth life I suspect.)

20140612 A new type of insect Iz Discovered on the Willow Tree. It seems to be a  bigger type of Aphid that leaves red on you if you touch it. Some also have wings.

20140612 A new type of insect Iz Discovered on the Willow Tree. It seems to be a bigger type of Aphid that leaves red on you if you touch it. Some also have wings.

20140612 A new type of insect Iz Discovered on the Willow Tree. It seems to be a  bigger type of Aphid that leaves red on you if you touch it. Some also have wings.

20140612 A new type of insect Iz Discovered on the Willow Tree. It seems to be a bigger type of Aphid that leaves red on you if you touch it. Some also have wings.

We think this is a type of Mealy Bug, not sure of it's exact species. as yet unidentified properly.

We think this is a type of Mealy Bug, not sure of it’s exact species. as yet unidentified properly.

A grape leaf caterpillar, I think its feet are  amazing!

A grape leaf caterpillar, I think its feet are amazing!

Spider & Insect Creation

Spider & Insect Creation

Insect house It's house is totally made out of carefully cut/chewed off pieces of gum leaf, perfectly arranged to blend into the tree. When I went back to look for it the second time I got such a shock as it had moved house and all. I thought it was so cool and wondered what it would be like to live in such a beautifully crafted work of art and perfection.

Leaf Case Moth – Hyalarcta huebneri, Insect house It’s house is totally made out of carefully cut/chewed off pieces of gum leaf, perfectly arranged to blend into the tree. When I went back to look for it the second time I got such a shock as it had moved house and all. I thought it was so cool and wondered what it would be like to live in such a beautifully crafted work of art and perfection.

20140509 spider

20140509 spider

Fungi growing out and around moist newspaper

Fungi growing out and around moist newspaper

Wonders of God’s Creation – Leaf Case Moth Caterpillar

* This post has been updated with actual & scientific names of caterpillar. For more Insect and spider construction go to the Gallery page or click on the link here.

* Tess sent me through a link with what this caterpillar is: The Leaf Case Moth – Hyalarcta huebneri, also known as Leaf Bagworm click on link (highlighted) for more information and photographs. They have really cool houses!

We Met this dude on a smallish eucalyptus tree branch a some weeks ago.

I was struck at how ingenious its house construction was and surprised to see that it is a caterpillar. It moves about it’s food source carrying this flower looking ‘house’ with it – just like a hermit crab. I named it the ‘hermit crab caterpillar’ as I have not yet scientifically found an identification for it. (If you know I would love you to share it with me, smile.)

A really cool thing about this ‘house’ is that when the caterpillar gets scared, or wants to sleep/rest (I am not sure if caterpillars actually need to sleep or rest) it some how sucks onto the branch and the opening to it’s house is perfectly formed to completely seal the opening so nothing can get in (see bottom image).

I reckon God is ingenious at demonstrating all sorts of fabulous wonders through nature. It is truly exciting to discover ‘new’ (new to me) things that God has purposely created for me (everyone of us) to find, examine, explore and question. This is what I find in nature – so many questions, and recently an excitement about finding the answers – and an inkling of a feeling that ‘yes, for every single question there is an answer!’ I feel excited about that. I have a stronger feeling that I will get answers if I just keep searching and keep asking God, rather than worrying about not knowing or that I must know everything now.

It is being regularly demonstrated to me how very little I do know and how much wondrous, deliciousness is out there yet to discover…

 

I named this the 'hermit crab caterpillar'. It has made the most beautiful house which it carries about on it's back as it moves around eating a young tree. You can just see the little caterpillars head peeking out near the branch. If it feels you watching it it quickly 'sucks' onto the branch creating a perfect seal so that no one can get in. I was entranced watching it move about with it's house. I am noticing a lot of similarities in shapes and creatures on land and sea at the moment. Very exciting.

20140509 I named this the ‘hermit crab caterpillar’. It has made the most beautiful house which it carries about on it’s back as it moves around eating a young tree. You can just see the little caterpillars head peeking out near the branch. If it feels you watching it it quickly ‘sucks’ onto the branch creating a perfect seal so that no one can get in. I was entranced watching it move about with it’s house. I am noticing a lot of similarities in shapes and creatures on land and sea at the moment. Very exciting.

The caterpillar house like a beautiful rosebud or flower bud, or shell.

The caterpillar house like a beautiful flower bud, or shell.

It's house is totally made out of carefully cut/chewed off pieces of gum leaf, perfectly arranged to blend into the tree. When I went back to look for it the second time I got such a shock as it had moved house and all. I thought it was so cool and wondered what it would be like to live in such a beautifully crafted work of art and perfection.

It’s house is totally made out of carefully cut/chewed off pieces of gum leaf, perfectly arranged to blend into the tree. When I went back to look for it the second time I got such a shock as it had moved house and all. I thought it was so cool and wondered what it would be like to live in such a beautifully crafted work of art and perfection.

 

20140509 Leaf Skirt caterpillar or the 'hermit crab caterpillar'

20140509 Leaf Skirt caterpillar or the ‘hermit crab caterpillar’. This is a close up of it suctioning onto the branch and sealing it’s home off.

* I find it interesting how on land and at sea there are similar looking creatures/shapes/and jobs that creatures do. This caterpillar and hermit crabs with a house on their back as a protective construction. Sea stars and particular thistles that are ground covering look very similar with arms and even sometimes the shapes on them.

I was wondering – there are insects on land so there must be insects and ‘waste warriors’ of the sea, like shrimps, crill, different types of plankton, of which there is such abundance.

I also wondered at how very large in size animals eat insects and plants – like whales, elephants, giraffe, the largest dinosaurs etc etc and how it is just interesting that these massive creatures function and thrive on plants. It all just makes me wonder and I feel that dinosaurs – the meat eating ones were actually carrion eaters – clean up agents rather than killers or predators. I reckon the predatory creatures in our world today could survive without killing anything.

Creatures reflect us, in my experience, so I wonder what ‘behaviour’ changes will occur when I deal with my causal emotions… I look forward to seeing the changes…

** All these ideas are based on my feelings and my opinions. Some I know for certain because I have experienced them and some I don’t know if they are true or factual yet, but I do wonder about them and I reckon in time I will know for certain, many things I don’t know just yet, I have growing faith I will know. And when I do maybe I will tell you about them… but then you could always conduct your own experiments and find out for yourself – for certain…. smile.