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By 5 Acres and A Dream
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The Problem is the Solution

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“The problem is the solution. Everything, works both ways. It is only how we see things that makes them advantageous or not.”

Bill Mollison, Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual

I’ve pondered that statement ever since I read it. In fact, I have several problems that I’m puzzling over right now: wiregrass in the garden and ground ivy in the pasture. But also, I have one for which the solution finally made sense, when I thought of each part in terms of purpose. I’m not saying I’ve come up with THE solution, but I’ve come up with a solution that works for me.

Every year we grow a small patch of winter wheat. 

This year’s wheat crop.
And every year we have vetch growing in it,

The dark pods are vetch seed pods.

and this year, wild lettuce.

Vetch is a nitrogen fixer, which is good, but the problem with it comes at wheat harvest. It tangles up and wraps around the scythe blade, which really hinders the scything rhythm. It’s frustrating. The wild lettuce is edible and makes great salads. But it’s something else that’s in the way, and hence a problem.
This year I decided to go through the wheat and pull the vetch to save for seed. If it was greener, I could save it for hay, but most of it is gone to seed, which I could use in my pasture. Vetch pulls out easily and while it took some time, it wasn’t hard work. While I was at it, I cut down the lettuce, because I decided to chop and dry the leaves for the goats this winter. 
One wheelbarrow filled with vetch vines, the other with
wild lettuce. I fed some fresh to the goats and dried some.

So by changing my thinking to see the advantages of the things that were problems, I got some pasture seed from the vetch and goat feed from the wild lettuce. Plus, the wheat was easier to scythe. It was pleasant outdoor work, and I really felt like I gained a lot, rather than being frustrated with the obstacles in the wheat.
This is a permaculture principle that I really need to incorporate in my everyday thinking. If I can, it will certainly make everything easier. 


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