The Chronicles of Smurf – Principle 10
Use and value diversity
One is never quite sure where one stands with humans. One minute they can be amenable, docile; the next they are yelling and waving their arms around. It is baffling.
Horizontal surfaces are a particular puzzle. Some I am allowed to be on, some not. There is no discernible logic to this: as far as I am concerned, surfaces differ only in their elevation and degree of comfort for sleeping. The humans, however, ascribe arbitrary functions to them.
Some raised surfaces are deemed furniture for sitting on. These I may walk, sit or lie on — albeit with the risk of being squished by a large human posterior. There is always a certain amount of grumping about ‘cat hairs’, it is true …
Some raised surfaces are deemed ‘work’ surfaces. These include the Suzy’s desk and the Hub’s bench in the garage. Walking on these is discouraged.
Woe betide a cat who has the temerity to walk on surfaces where human food may at times be prepared or deposited for consumption!
Shrieks of ‘Get off!’ and ‘Bad cat!’ are sure to ensue if I leap onto the dining table — especially during a family meal. The humans do not seem to realise that I am seeking to bring matters of pressing importance to their attention, and this is the only way to get it, when they are chomping away.
Then there was the time that the Suzy spread flour liberally over the kitchen bench, pursuant to making sourdough bread or some other inedible non-meat ‘foodstuff’.
She was quite distressed when I hopped up to inspect her handiwork. If she had reacted in a more measured manner, an ugly scene and much scattering of flour would have been avoided.
It took an extended grooming session under the shelter of the lemon tree to rid my fur of the horrid white powder and globs of sticky dough. I suspect that Roger the Rooster was laughing at me. Arse.
Yet the humans walk with impunity on the surfaces where the Suzy deposits Banjo’s food bowl, on the tiles of the laundry. And they plonk baskets of dirty, smelly garments next to my food bowl on the bench. It is an injustice.
Banjo says that he does not mind, and is quite prepared to consume food anywhere, any time, and no offence taken.
Be this as it may, there is a principle at stake.
The Hub once mentioned something called the ‘Animal Rights Brigade’ apropos of an item on the evening news concerning conditions at an agricultural establishment. I did not quite grasp what the aims of this organisation encompass, and I am not sure that the Hub’s words were entirely complimentary, but I feel that the matter warrants further enquiry.
Perhaps Banjo and I should form a sub-branch of the Animal Rights Brigade. We might invite the chooks to join. Maybe Olympia and Bertie, the newly arrived saddleback piglets, could be recruited? And what about Squibble, Wombat and Fuzzy, the guinea pigs? The plump, juicy little guinea pigs … (No, Smurf, banish such thoughts from your head. The guinea pigs are your comrades in the class struggle. Delicious comrades …)
Indeed, why limit membership to ‘domesticated’ (ha!) animals? Perhaps the frogs in the creek might have views about how Dry Creek Farm is run — after all, it impacts their water supply. The lorikeets, rosellas, cockatoos and galahs might wish to make their voices heard on the contentious issue of Fruit Access Rights.
After all, the tenth principle of Permaculture is to ‘use and value diversity.’ Surely the more, the merrier?
I will broach the matter with Banjo at the next opportunity. Perhaps after dinner …
Next week in the Chronicles of Smurf:
Principle 11: Use Edges and Value the Marginal
Smurf thoroughly approves of the Suzy’s design for the farm, but the Hub worries about losing his offspring.
David Holmgren is the originator of the 12 permaculture design principles, which are cited above.