Over the course of a weekend back in May, our minds were blown, our senses were bombarded and we set off on a new farming tangent that will change the way we do things here forever.A nice, big steamer for the compost heap. Thanks, guys!
The catalyst was the New Zealand Biodynamic and Gardening Association's 2013 Conference.
Yep, biodynamics. What's that? you ask. Well, it's basically turbo-charged organics; very concerned with building up soil and fertility. It treats properties/farms as unique, living entities, just like the people who inhabit and work on them. Biodynamic teachings also recognise, and allow for, influences coming from outside the planet: not just the sun and moon but also the planets of the solar system and the constellations.
Then there's the stuff to do with burying manure-filled cow horns for six months and sticking other stuff in deer's bladders and hanging them in trees, etc.
So maybe you think that's extremely weird. No worries. Lots of people do. My logical, scientific, atheistic Farmer Wan definitely struggled with some of the more "out there" conference sessions and we met a lovely wine grower who sat scowling with her arms and legs crossed for most of the weekend. The more esoteric the subject matter, the further down in her seat she slumped.
Yet all the committed biodynamic practitioners we met and spoke with were grounded, intelligent, practical people. And really nice. And party animals. We made some wonderful new friends at that event.
"It doesn't matter if people believe in it or not," a successful farmer and one of New Zealand's biodynamic luminaries told us. "Biodynamics is a system. If people follow it, they'll get results."
Alrighty, then. So less than a week later, we'd stirred up our first batch of Preparation 500 and were trundling it around one of our paddocks in a wheelbarrow, spraying it over the ground with a small manuka branch and bickering over the right way to go about it. Not the most auspicious of starts but a beginning nonetheless.
The conference set a lot of things in motion for us, with the decision to finally get a tractor being the first. At this stage, I can't see any major conflict between the permaculture design plan for Muntanui and the application of biodynamics for our soil. Neither philosophy is meant to be dogmatic, so they should be able to live with each other. We'll see.
Posted by Farmer Nik
About Ewan and Niki
Scottish mechanical engineer with a deep and abiding passion for good food. Outstanding cook. Builder of lots of stuff. Cattle whisperer. Connoisseur of beer. A lover rather than a fighter.
Kiwi writer and broadcaster who hates cabbage, even though she knows it's good for her. Chook wrangler. Grower of food and flowers. Maker of fine preserves. Lover of dancing and wine. Definitely a fighter.