"This is to inform you that I have already obtained all the investment funds that I need to launch my project. I thank you for doing all you have done for me. I am thrilled beyond measure. Apparently I have a better idea than even I knew."
Posted on September 15, 2017 @ 10:03:00 AM by Paul Meagher
I listened to a blogger on the radio who felt it was inadvisable to talk about yourself because you as a topic would inevitably become boring. That is true but it is hard to avoid talking about what you do especially if it gives you some joy.
The last couple of days have been warm and sunny but the season for swimming is coming to an end because the nights are getting cool. I just came back from a trip to my favorite swimming hole on my second-hand 2003 Yamaha Zuma Sports Scooter (49cc) that I purchased this spring. The Zuma allows me to drive down a rugged road and right up to the side of the river for a swim. I take it all over the place. A gas fillup costs about $3.50. The Zuma gives me some joy as does swimming in this river. It occurred to me that the swimming area is at least Olympic size because it is a workout for me to go up and down it once. There are no creatures in this water that you have to worry about and you could drink the water.
I took some footage from inside the river yesterday when it was sunny and a bit more windy. There is an area in the center where you can be up to your neck and that is where I shot some footage from.
My daughter competed as a swimmer in a chlorine filled pool and the thought never occurred to anyone that the river might have certain advantages as a place to train (e.g., upstream swimming).
Posted on February 13, 2017 @ 11:29:00 PM by Paul Meagher
I attended a "Backyard Forestry" workshop over the weekend at The Deanery Project. The workshop was led by Jamie Simpson author of Restoring the Acadian Forest (2015).
The workshop was a combination of lectures and round table discussions. About half was practical learning outdoors in the woods and in a workshop where we went over chainsaw maintenance and operation.
A critical decision any woodlot owner needs to make is what trees to promote and what trees to thin out. We revisited this question many times first by learning to identify the various tree species and then learning what tree species tend to dominate in native old growth forests and favoring those species in our thinning practices. This is how you can "Restore the Acadian Forest" (or any native forest for that matter). The Acadian Forest concept also involves an appreciation for standing and fallen dead wood as habitats for birds, small mammals, insects, frogs, etc... and as a way to replenish the soil. One point that Jamie made frequently was that you always have to be looking up when trying to determine what trees to keep or remove in your forestry management. You are often looking for signs that the tree is dead or on the way out and this will affect your decision to remove or not. I will be looking up alot more when I walk through my own small woodlot.
Here is Jamie (to the left) amused by what Tom Rogers (My Acadian Forest) was saying. Jamie spotted a yellow birch hardwood amidst mostly softwood trees and was advising us to actively promote that tree by thinning a few trees around it, but not too many because lack of density when young can encourage bad form.
Jamie also picked out a few Red Spruce and advised us to promote that species as well. He advised us that it wouldn't hurt to remove some Balsam Fir (aka Christmas Trees) because many factors are conspiring to make that species over represented in the local forests. The Acadian Forest concept celebrates the diversity of native species that this forest system can support as it straddles the southern range of the massive Boreal Forest system and the northern range of southern forest systems. Over time, selective harvesting from a diverse and uneven aged Acadian Forest can potentially be more lucrative and more sustainable than clear cutting approaches (especially if we take into account non-timber products and services) but it takes more time and patience than the plantation mentality of forest management.
In the evening Jamie and a few of the participants played guitar. Jamie also plays fiddle and during one of his tunes this big old Alaskan Malamute dog started to howl along. I managed to capture a bit of his howling towards the end.
Posted on February 10, 2017 @ 09:20:00 AM by Paul Meagher
I've been building up alot of short nature videos and decided to share a few around the topic of outdoor adventure in wintertime. For some of us this is the heart of the winter season. Many fly South this time of year such as my sister who will be staying in the warmer climes of Florida for a couple of months. Myself, I still enjoy the many adventuresome activities that winter has to offer. Having good gear makes it easier to get around under all different types of winter conditions.
When I'm not working at my computer or reading, I'm often looking for an outdoor adventure. I prefer not to walk on sidewalks. I like to walk in local park trails to get some exercise. This year I discovered Icers which is a studded shoe sole that I can strap onto my rubber boots and not slip when I'm walking on Ice (see www.icers.ca). It has made a huge difference in my ability to get around on the local park trails. I am often alone on parts of these trails for obvious reasons if you watch my journey to Victoria Park falls:
Another outdoor activity that I like to do if I'm in the right area is explore the woods for Chaga Mushrooms. I already have some Chaga that I hope to brew into tea to boost my immune system so no there is need for me to harvest any more. I like to find Chaga trees and revisit them to see if I can learn anything more about this strange species of mushroom. Winter time with lots of snow down is the best time to hunt them because the contrast is better. Below is a Chaga tree I visited last weekend. Only 2 of the 7 mushrooms growing on it are shown.
Another outdoor adventure is visiting my farm to explore the property and see how my vineyard is doing. A window at the top of my barn blew out in a wind storm so I had to repair it. Fortunately there is lots of hay in the barn so I was able to climb up to it easily and fix it. I was also able to take a clear video of the vineyard with the dirty window removed. The video starts with the oldest vines and ends with my younger vines.
This weekend I will be attending a workshop on "Backyard Forestry" so that I might better manage and appreciate the forests you see behind the vineyards. I am supposed to bring rain gear and extra layers for warmth so there will be some outdoor learning. Also have to bring a flash light. I won't be camping outside in the snow (which is an option), but I'll be bringing my sleeping bag and pillow for an overnight stay in the dormatory.
Posted on December 18, 2015 @ 10:39:00 AM by Paul Meagher
I took some time yesterday and today to film some of my natural surroundings.
Yesterday I encountered an icy vernal pool and after looking at it for awhile decided I wanted to do a video study focusing on pattern formation, life at the edge, and cold-hardy amphibious plants. Mosses are a family of plant species that are cold-hardy and amphibious in part because they are "non-vascular" plants (no internal circulatory vessels).
In my second video which I took today the temperatures are warmer. I was checking up on a white birch log that was innoculated with Shitake Mushroom spawn 3 months ago. I also noticed all the pretty mosses growing around it. I've become quite interested in mosses lately because of a book called Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses. Also, this is a time of year around here when the moss family of plants (a.k.a Bryophytes) are most noticeably alive in the forests (after the evergreen trees). In this video I was trying to determine how many species of mosses there are near the log. I thought there were at least three species - one that is more tree-like, one that is more fern-like, and one that is more fur-like in shape. I'm still new to moss identification so I can't get any more specific than that at the moment.
The moss family is an under appreciated class of plants considering that all plant life on land owes it's existence to the mosses. They invaded the land from the oceans. Mosses are an evolutionary step up from primitive ocean algaes. Some people call them "primitive" plants but I think "primordial" is often a better term. They are primordial because from moss forms all other forms in the plant world were realized (see Fundamentals of Pattern). There is still evidence of mosses in the body plan of all plants. That might be going overboard to make the point but the microcosm of the moss communities in the video above bear a family resemblance to plants, or elements of plants, that exist at a larger scale.
Posted on October 26, 2015 @ 05:16:00 AM by Paul Meagher
Here is a photo of some colors that were on display in Barneys River a week and a half ago.
Barneys River is an idyllic river valley area that I always
enjoy driving through. It is even better in fall time as the changing colors light up the surrounding hills. Here is some footage from the same area a couple of days ago.
Just thought I would share a little piece of paradise on earth.
Also noteworthy is that around the same time 15 minutes away actor Ethan Hawke was participating in a Micmac water ceremony. He has property in the area and was asked by Micmac elders to attend. You can see a short video of what he had to say as well as what a water ceremony consists of at this link:
Posted on August 1, 2015 @ 08:39:00 AM by Paul Meagher
I was mowing the lawn around sunset and noticed the full moon coming up. I stopped mowing and ran for my camera to take some photos. The moon emerges quickly from the horizon so you have to be faster than I was to get it just as it emerges. The first photo is one of my first photos, then I took a close up (hard to maintain image stability even on a tripod when you have mosquitos wanting to have you for dinner), and the final photo is when clouds started to occlude the moon - I got a spooky cloud formation over the top of the orangy full moon.
Here is a tip - if you are looking for inspiration for a logo/brand design, observe the shape of clouds against various backgrounds. The final photo is one I took during the day because I liked the flowing motions of it. It could be the inspiration for a unique logo/brand design. Nature is always ready to mentor us if we are prepared to receive it.
Posted on October 31, 2014 @ 08:36:00 AM by Paul Meagher
I came accross an interesting link this week. The link takes you to a page with recorded interviews from people who are leaders in wilderness teachings of one type or another. The leaders were part of a Back to the Wild Summit that took place in 2013. You might find some interviews a bit new-agy but I've enjoyed listening to 3 of the interviews so far. The first listed interview with Arther Haines called Where Past Meets Future is worth listening to in order to determine if you want to listen to any more interviews.
I did some foraging this morning for a valuable medicinal tree mushroom (not hallucinigenic if you are wondering) that is supposed to grow around here. I scouted out the mushroom yesterday and packed up a ladder and some tools this morning so I could harvest a bit of it. Apparently mushroom collectors are quite secretive about their finds and I will not be releasing any more details :-)
Posted on October 10, 2014 @ 06:10:00 AM by Paul Meagher
Today is the last day that I can take in the fall colors at my farm as I'll be heading back to my office this evening. I've been taking care of some fall tasks around the farm but have to get back to my family and suburban responsabilities.
I uploaded some photos from the last couple of days taking photographs and some from today. I plan to tour around this afternoon on a back road to enjoy the stunning colors on display right now. If you like nature photography like I do (not saying I'm particularly good at it) then you feel compelled to drop everything and take in the visual feast.
Posted on July 17, 2014 @ 09:58:00 AM by Paul Meagher
Some business gurus will tell you that in order to succeed in business you need to work longer and harder than your
competitors. Forget the 40 hr week, you should be working 60 to 80 hrs a week on your business at minimum.
The same could be said for being successful at farming. A lazy farmer is likely to be an unsuccessful farmer and
it is the go-go-go farmer that is more likely to build a successful farming enterprise. They put in the long hard
hours and that is why they are successful, or so the story goes.
Is it possible to be successful without all the work? Perhaps the excessive amount of work you are doing is causing you to
be unsuccessful? Perhaps the excessive amount of work is telling you something about the viability of your business? If
you have to work this hard to make a go of it, perhaps it is too much work?
There may be an alternative paradigm for growing a business rooted in green philosophy. That paradigm leads to a type
of business called a Natural Business, by analogy with Natural Farming.
In this book, Masanobu espouses a different method of farming with the goal of letting
nature do its thing on the farm and to intervene as little as possible. There is still lots of work to do in order
to make the farm produce an income to support itself and its workers, but the work is of a different sort. Specifically,
it does not involve 1) cultivation, 2) fertilizing, 3) weeding, and 4) pesticides. If you are growing grains, fruits, and
vegetables, then not having to engage in activities related to the above 4 practices leaves you with some serious time
on your hands in order to engage in other activities around the farm (like enjoying and connecting with it instead of always working it).
Masanobu's approach was to find methods of growing grains, vegetables, and fruits that produced a yeild yet did not require
all the work we normally put into growing them. His not-so-hidden agenda was to demonstrate that by working with Nature
instead of trying to control it through reductionist science, you were able to get comparable if not better yields with
alot less work and a whole host of benefits that you don't get through a western science approach (richer soil, more
biodiversity, healthier plants, clean water, spiritual connection, etc...).
There is a very deep vein of skepticism in the book about our ability to know the world through our mental models which
is probably why it has not received the degree of serious study that it should have in philosophy, agriculture, and, I would
argue, business. His critique of the pretensions of western scientific knowledge is one of the most devastating I have ever
read. Forget Wittgenstein, read Masanobu if you really want to have your conceptual foundations rocked.
The skepticism, however, is critical to giving into the natural way of business. If you come with too many preconceptions
and scientific theories about how things should be done (and there are no shortage of these), then you will not be looking
for or attuned to the natural vibe of your business. That natural vibe is found by observing more and intervening less
and seeing what happens. It is found by questioning whether you really have to intervene, whether the work
is really necessary, whether things might just take care of themselves if given a chance. There is also alot of
experimentation to see what works without much intervention. These become your natural lines of business.
One way to explore the concept of natural business would be to think about your business as a garden that you are currently
cultivating, fertilizing, weeding, and applying pesticides to.
The four principles of natural farming/business are simply stated:
Larry Korn advises that Masanobu is here using a traditional japanese method of teaching to stretch the student's thinking about farming. Masanbou's farming methods includes some weeding for young plants but ideally none as they grow older.
What are the equivalents of these 4 practices in your business?
Are you afraid of the chaos that might ensue if you stopped doing any one of these in your business? A certain amount
of chaos is part of a natural business. It is a balance between your will and nature's way.
I highly recommend this book for its philosphical content, practical information on farming, and very thought provoking
diagrams. The book contains some of the best systems diagrams I have ever encountered. Ironic indeed from someone who
claims to know so little about the world.
If you want to learn more about the productivity of Masanobu's farm, and his genius, I'd recommend reading the recent article Fukuoka's Food Forest by prolific permaculture author Eric Toensmeier.
Posted on February 21, 2014 @ 11:55:00 AM by Paul Meagher
We had a few snow storms over the last couple of days. I got out in the middle of it a took a few photos. There were some nearby rivers and streams that I thought would look nice in a blanket of snow. One of the photos that I find interesting is a photo of the river with a weird shape floating on the top. I took the photo because it looked like an oil emulsion of some sort floating on top of the water. What I think it was, however, was pieces of ice starting to form in the water creating a swirly whitish mass traveling down the river. You can see the swirly masses in this photo, however, if you look long enough at the largest white swirly mass (in the foreground of the picture above the rivers edge) you might see the face of a river spirit. I know that the mind creates order out of randomness and the icy river spirit is that sort of phenomenon, however, if there were such a thing as a river spirit this is how it might manifest itself.
This is the river as seen through a few branches.
Here are some tributaries to the river blanketed in some nice fluffy snow.
The river meanders along a tree-lined road.
It is easy to spend the winter complaining about the weather, but if you actually get out in it and marvel at its beauty, then the winter can be enjoyable in some of its fiercest moments. You also might also be lucky enough to see an icy river spirit if you look hard enough at the swirly white masses in the water.
Posted on January 27, 2014 @ 08:55:00 AM by Paul Meagher
As I learn more about nature, I like to ponder whether nature has any lessons we might learn regarding business survival and growth. Previously I looked at lessons we might learn from nature by studying how natural ecosystems work and applying similiar principles to growing a business. See business guilds and metaphors of growth for more.
Today I want to look at a specific species, Lichens, to see if they have anything to teach us about business survival and growth.
Lets start with the basics and define what a Lichen is: it is an organism that consists of a fungus and an algae (and/or cyanobacteria) with the fungus supplying the organisms framework and the embedded algae converting sunlight to energy (i.e., sugars, nutrients) for the organism. The fungus and the algae are in a symbiotic relationship with each other, each supplies something the other needs. While both may exist without the other, they perform much better if they are symbiotically intertwined. They are smaller, weaker, and much less adaptable when they exist apart.
Lichens are a tremendously successful organism occupying 10% of the earth's land surface, especially in the far north. They can
exists in some of the harshest conditions on the planet and play a major role in the process of creating soil by releasing acids that break down rock which eventually becomes soil.
One of the main lessons we might learn from lichens is that a symbiotic relationship can create a new level of adaptability that cannot happen without the symbiotic relationship. One reason to partner with another company is because that company supplies something that is missing from your own company and vice versa. We partner with companies so that we can each benefit monetarily or otherwise from the arrangement. A lichen, however, goes one level above a simple partnership insofar as the arrangement allows them to compete in new environments that they otherwise would not be in if the fungi and algae they did not partner. Likewise, companies can partner because the joint organism that results can compete in a new environment that the separate companies cannot compete in individually. So partnerships are not just about staying in the same environment and extracting more of the resources from that environment; it is also about joining together so that you can venture into new territory and compete against the incumbents in that territory.
Another lesson we might learn from lichens is how to survive in harsh environments. Lichens can survive in extreme cold and extreme drought. They are able to do this because they can approach a state close to death when times are tough but as soon as conditions warm or rain comes, they can spring back into life and thrive again. A lichen will shrink in size when there is no rain thereby reducing it's requirements for water. When water does come, it expands in size again. Likewise, for a company to survive in tough economic times it should have a strategy for entering into a low energy conservation state and exiting that state when conditions become favorable again. The life of any company is often marked by periods of growth and setback. When life is good and the company is growing you may think that life will stay that way and structure your company accordingly - buy new company assets, take on more loans, spend money as soon as it comes in. Any little setback, however, could quickly spell the end of the company. How easily can you shrink the company when economic times get tough and how long can you stay in the state? The lichen has learned how to live through the bad times and exploit the good times with equal ease.
In "The Forest Unseen: A year's Watch in Nature" (2012), David Haskell, describes lichen existence as follows:
Supple physiology allows lichens to shine with life when most other creatures are locked down for the winter. Lichens master the cold months through the paradox of surrender. They burn no fuel in quest of warmth, instead letting the pace of their lives rise and fall with the thermometer. Lichens don't cling to water as plants and animals do. A lichen body swells on damp days, then puckers as the air dries. Plants shrink back from the chill, packing up their cells until spring gradually coaxes them out. Lichen cells are light sleepers. When winter eases for a day, lichens float easily back to life. (p. 2).
These are just a couple of aspect of lichen existence and physiology that we can learn from if we study lichens more closely with an eye towards what they might tell us metaphorically about business survival and growth.
Posted on October 17, 2013 @ 07:01:00 AM by Paul Meagher
Went to one of my favorite nature spots in late evening when the autumn leaves were vibrant. It is called Mabou Landing and it is where a large fresh water stream, the Mull River, meets the ocean waters of Mabou Harbour. On this evening the waters were calm and I focused on capturing reflections of the scenery in my photos. I travelled 2 minutes up the road to Mabou Harbour and took my last reflective photo. Enjoy.
Posted on September 4, 2013 @ 07:43:00 AM by Paul Meagher
I'm watching a couple of documentaries this morning on Eustace Conway. Eustace is one of the featured people on the Mountain Men Reality TV series. I wanted to learn more about what Eustace's property, the Turtle Island Preserve, is all about. The reality TV series does not give one a good sense of how Turtle Island works as a whole. This documentary gives that overview and is quite entertaining, informative, and well done.
Posted on July 27, 2013 @ 09:05:00 AM by Paul Meagher
I was taking junk to the dump when I noticed a very active bird nesting site on the property. The soil is a sandy clay which the birds appear to like for nesting. This is what an area of the nesting site wall looks like:
This is a closeup of what the birds inhabiting a nesting den look like.
Here is a short video (25 seconds) of the sights and sounds at the bird nesting site.
I thought it was a cool site and thought I would share.