Keen Observation Skills Creates Success

Principle 41

in the book The Resilient Farm and Homestead by Ben Falk is

Awareness limits actions:

“Action is only as productive as one’s awareness allows.”

I’m that person who watches a show and notices as a women in a ball gown turns that she has a small pox scar on her arm. Or that the actor who collapsed and supposedly is dying from an injection had been given the poisonous inject with an empty syringe. Just one screen shot and yet I notice the lead actor has on platformed heels on his shoes. He sat down, his pant leg rose, and the camera did not rise to waste height quite fast enough.  Imagine what going to Walmart is like for me. I spend the bulk of my time recovering from over stimulation and it steals a great deal of my productive hours.

YET, I have found myself unobservant.

I return to this book again and again focusing on a principle at at time. I’m seeing things in my yard I’ve never noticed before. I walked my fields one day tapping a shovel into the ground here and there. I hit rock within a few inches time after time. I had no idea just how fragile the landscape is on our steep slope.

I’ve discovered plants in our yard and mountains I had no idea were edible. I’ll admit we have been going around nibbling. In the mountains, we found Partridge berries or American Wintergreen as their also called. We moaned with pleasure as we ate their small red berries. What we had eaten we did not know but a merry chase all over the internet uncovered the mystery.


Note, I’m not recommending you simply go sampling. But we had a good feeling about these plants. The Holy Ghost has become more vocal as we’ve asked more often for him impart wisdom. For sure Partridge Berries will be cultivated but since they like shade or partial, I need to get our other acidic loving plants flourishing to provide that shade.

I’ve walked in the rain many times during torrential down pours and gentle drizzles and observed how the water naturally flows on our property. I’ve also noticed that torrential is the norm and gentle the uncommon. Which means less is absorbed and increases the importance of slowing the flow.


I’ve noticed some white mushrooms growing in the field. NO, I have not been tasting those. Neither the black mushrooms growing in my new garden beds but if they are growing, then surely edible ones will grow too. I have no idea how or what but I intend to find out.


I discovered Penneycress growing in our hay yard and under the Sentinels, a line of pine trees. We nibbled on the seeds, then delighted, I went in search of just what I’d eaten. More on penneycress later.

I began to look at my gardens in a whole new way. Synergies, angles, and the direction I run my beds with more intensity.

I’ve begun to understand that change does not happen unless observation occurs first. I have to question everything:

  • What is that plant? I’m learning many but next year I will begin to chart what grows in our five acres and surrounding area that I could forage.


  • What does it do for my soil? Bull thistle and Scotch have moved in, in light numbers. Why did they join the Canadian thistle. Do they have something different to offer?
  • Why does a certain plant grow in its present location? Yarrow is in huge numbers in the area our beef vacated which tells me my soil is poor but it was poor before so why now? I do know yarrow stops blood flow in wounds. Appropriate since this was once a battle field.


  • What wild plants should I encourage? Definitely Sego Lily, the Penneycress, the Echinacea. I’ve seen mullein grow along the creek we don’t own property by. The county curses it. I’m going to grow it as I use to buy it for medicinal purposes when our kids were young. I could use it now.
  • Is it edible? We have several kinds of sage growing wild. Some are soft and smell divine. Nope, not one of the varieties is edible. I learned we can eat thistle but I don’t want to. The goats eat it down and then let it grow to a certain height and they munch again. I’m just not interested. How much more is on our acres we can eat?


I’m coming to the understanding that the whole five acres should be my garden not just my high fenced areas. We could be gleaning so much more than we presently are. We could be encouraging things like penneycress as it is anti-inflammatory and fever-reducing.

All because I observed, I wondered, and I experimented. Change is indeed limited by powers of observation.

I’m amazed that I, who is so observant, noticed so little in my yard. There is so much more to be discovered. I just have to pay attention.




2 thoughts on “Keen Observation Skills Creates Success

  1. A long time ago, before I studied horticulture in school, I learned quite a bit about it from older people who really knew what plants were used for. It seems that to almost all modern horticulturists, plants are merely landscape material. It is unfortunate that so few learn about old horticulture.


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