About the only farm I can honestly say I ever owned was my 4-H project.
I built an ant farm. It was about 3 inches thick, a foot wide and maybe 18 inches tall. The front and back were panes of glass. The top had a 4 inch flip top where I could pour in some sandy soil, a bunch of ants, a little bit of water and various food sources…mainly dead flies. Wow!!! A blue ribbon show-stopper for sure.
It didn’t take long and there were multiple tunnels nearly the full depth of the farm. And the real prize became the lessons. Today we call those the take-aways. I don’t remember where or how the farm ended up. I do remember gazing at long length at the busy-ness and the incredible purposefulness of those worker-ants. I didn’t even have a queen. It was just an assortment of ants I lured with some honey and stale bread that became covered with ants and I was well on my way to some dandy first- hand discoveries.
Discovery became an interesting thought in itself. I discovered my Bible said there’s nothing new under the sun. (Specifically it says in Ecclesiastes chapter 1:9 “That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun. 10 Is there anything of which it may be said, “See, this is new”? It has already been in ancient times before us.”
Turns out my ant farm wasn’t the first. You can’t go picnicking without having to contend with some amount of ants. It just wouldn’t be a picnic without them. How did they know to make tunnels? How did they get equipped to carry burdens weighing 10 to 50 times their own weight? That’d be like me carrying 5 tons!!! Really? That was a discovery! My farm was just a small cluster of maybe a hundred honey-hungry little red guys (or gals?) Scientists have described over 12,000 to 22,000 species of ants. Whew…now that's an ant farm.
Speaking of weight, the total weight of ants on Earth is estimated to be close to that of humans. Not bad for a collection of little guys weighing one-millionth of the young man who built and showed off his first (and only) ant farm. Despite her size and royal title, the queen (some live 30 years) doesn’t boss the workers around. Instead, workers decide which tasks to perform based on personal preferences, interactions with nest mates, and cues from the environment. The colony (another name for an ant farm) exhibits a division of labor where different individuals specialize on different jobs. Younger ants often work inside the nest, taking care of the queen and her brood. Older workers ( lifespan is a few weeks to as much as 3 years) are more likely to go outside to gather food or defend the nest against enemies.
Check out https://askabiologist.asu.edu/content/ant-factoids for yourself! Which brought me to my big discovery. My own Aunts! I love them a lot and am grateful to God for their role in my up-bringing. My Aunt (I made some friends from Minnesota who don’t really know how to pronounce it right) Mary Jane once said of her young nephew (me), “I taught that boy everything I know. And he still don’t know nothing.” I was glad to learn that if you use a double negative like that, it can mean just the opposite.
Another discovery: I must know something after all. Yay! And then this…I discovered in my Bible that the Lord Jesus created ants and aunts. (John chapter 1:1-14 and Colossians 1:13-18) And He created everything that’s been created. THAT was some discovery. Makes me feel smaller than an ant in the larger scheme of life and creation. Admittedly, I didn’t really love “my” ants. But, I did love my aunts. And I am eternally grateful that God the Son loved me, died for me and has prepared a mansion for me and by His blood purchased me as His own. I have a great big thank to and for Him. Did you ever built an ant farm?
PRAYER NUGGET: Praying to bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Panhandle and eastern Wyoming…I love you and am praying for you.