Take it.

Posted on Thursday, 22 October, 2009 at 08:47AM
Mood: goodWell.
Tags: ,
The farm is biodynamic as well as organic, and last week Caroline asked me to do the biodynamic preparations for the compost. I knew something about biodynamics before getting there, namely that biodynamics is a form of ceremonial magic in which one enacts certain rituals, such as filling a horn with cow manure and eggshells at a certain phase of the moon and burying it somewhere, thereby leading to the increased fertility of the farm. Herbs in quantities so small that they can only be called symbolic gestures are mixed into the soil. Certain days of the week are named as ideal for planting when one wishes to encourage the roots, others for leaves, and others for fruit. If you think it sounds like utter bullocks and a stupid way to run a farm, you'd be absolutely right, and I'd agree with you. However, it seems to work.

I was given five plastic bags small enough that I'd never before seen them used for any purpose other than the convenient transfer of illicit substances, and a small vial. Each pouch contained about a teaspoon of a different herb. The contents of the vial I mixed with pure water by hand, in required combinations of clockwise and anticlockwise movement, for a specified length of time.

The compost pile that was the recipient of my attentions is large. This one is not yet a year old, and is perhaps more than twenty feet long, eight feed wide, and four feet tall. Before applying the herbs we had to make its shape more precisely resemble a truncated pyramid, shoveling a bit away from the end, applying it to a spot that indented on the side or wasn't as tall as the rest. I've certainly been guilty of giving my compost heap love and attention that it neither deserves nor requires, but I usually stop short at expending significant physical labour on its behalf. As decaying is something that vegetable matter is designed to do, I believe that one ought to be as lazy as possible about one's compost, thereby freeing one's efforts for something useful. Trying to help it too much seems a bit like taking a curious and attractive seventeen-year-old to a fertility clinic. But. After a bit of grave digging, we covered the pile in straw and Caroline left me to it.

A moment later I was forcing a broom handle deep into the pile, struggling to gain admittance, and blushing a little, realising too late just what kind of fertility ritual this was going to be. A moment before I'd stomped up to the pile, roaring to the boys nearby, "Now I do magic," twitching my hood onto my head, "Magic like druid." They laughed and periodically checked up, "How's the magic goin'?" Initially I'd respond with some nonsense, but after my second successful working of the dowel into what would be soil, dropping in the herbal preparations, and covering over the hole, I admitted a bit nervously, "Um. I think I'm trying to get the compost pregnant?" On one thrust and withdrawal a wee frightened mouse ran out after my broom handle, and I wondered if I'd be responsible for its education and upbringing. The five herbs and half of the tea each went into their own hole, and then, I admit with face half hidden in shame, I sprayed the remainder of the liquid over the entirety of the pile. One of the boys, a serial teller of puns, ran up to the pile, hit it, and pronounced, "The power of Christ composts you!" I performed the sign of the cross in proper church Latin and jumped off of the heap, a series of empty stash bags in my pockets, and went to collect eggs from the hen houses.


diablaxmachina at 2009-10-22 14:30 (UTC) (Link)
I adore you.
Jack Grey: Celestial Teapot
earlofgrey at 2009-10-23 00:07 (UTC) (Link)
Hee. I was away from the internet for a bit while I was farming. How is the other side of the world?
diablaxmachina at 2009-10-23 00:44 (UTC) (Link)
Chilly. Fall-ish. Still beautiful leaf colors, thankfully! The Village decorates for Halloween, so I have some bats and cobwebs around that please me. Still not teaching, though...and I miss home, now that the novelty of being here has begun to fade. I'm enjoying your farming stories, I can't think of a better way to spend autumn.
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