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2024 Spring Equinox: Cows, Compost & Community

Cows, compost and community came together during the vernal equinox on the farm. I rented a compost tea sprayer, and we tackled the job of sprinkling horn manure over the approximately 100 acres of pastures, hay fields and gardens. Six to eight garden plots get it once or twice a year, applied with a whisk broom, but it’s been a while since the whole farm got dosed. 

Two 55-gallon drums were filled halfway with well water, and each also got a few gallons of hot water. Into this slightly warmed water I added about 3 cups of the magical potion. We fill cow horns with manure every fall and leave them buried through winter and dig them out the following spring. After filling large crocks in the root cellar, I inserted the six herbal preparations that biodynamic farmers make. 

While the field filled with hippies, a few helped us swirl the water one way and then another for an hour. Then someone sat on the tailgate spraying up a storm as I circled the farm. After a few days we had covered it with around 300 gallons, 10 times of stirring 30 gallons. 

In the 1980s I stirred in a 50-gallon ceramic crock and applied it with the whisk broom and bucket method. Soon I brought a 55-gallon spray rig that made the job a lot easier. Eventually, the crock broke, as did the piece of equipment. It had a roller pump, and I learned from Dr. Elaine Ingham that a diaphragm pump was much better because it didn’t damage the microbiology.

Lloyd and friends came to the rescue for several years with their spray rig, dowsing the whole farm during our annual southeast biodynamic conferences. But for the last 10 years the “back 40” didn’t get much attention, unless someone showed up who wanted to learn about biodynamics. Then we would talk while stirring for an hour, and head off to a random pasture. I maintain doing teaches better than just talking. 

I wanted to buy a sprayer myself, and my research brought me to my friends at Gardens of Babylon, who spray compost tea in the Nashville area. They had just bought a new one, and I was able to rent their old one. It really worked great, and if I don’t get my own, I plan to rent their sprayer again for covering 100 acres with horn silica in the summertime. 

Meanwhile, over 200 friends and families camped out in the cool spring weather, warmed by a giant bonfire. We made new friends, saw old ones, and a splendid time was had by all. We love our community and their love for the farm inspires us. In an effort to allow folks to enjoy farm camping, we are offering campsites through Hip Camp this year.

Besides the horn manure, much of the farm received a good dose of biodynamic compost last winter. This feels appropriate with the publication of the new book, Barefoot Biodynamics.

A June 8th event is brewing, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the beginning of biodynamics. Rudolf Steiner began his course on June 7, 1924, pointing out that the new “artificial fertilizers” destroyed the soil’s natural ability to keep land fertile. As these discussions were the first to suggest we abandon chemicals in agriculture and rely on compost and other time-tested methods, this became the origin of the organic food and farming movement. It is also the 50th anniversary of the beginning of our organic farm here, so a fun, local food event certainly seems in order.

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