Friday, May 25, 2012

A Kinder Society

It rained a bit last night. We were also blessed with a heavy dew and, on such mornings, I sit here and look over my little farm, amazed at the shades of green. The trees are like huge sticks of cotton candy in shades of green. Then as you look back into the shadows the greens go darker into black. I never tire of looking at my woods. When I work down in the trees it is to burn the scrub. The burning enriches the soil, takes out the competition from the invasive undergrowth. The trees reward me with their marvelous shades of green. The soil down under the trees is also amazing. Light, loose, thriving. I once found an earthworm, there, in the woods a good ten inches long. So, why is the soil apparently dead on the hills? This spring my hay yield has dropped dramatically again. Just six and a half large bales. This is pathetic for a parcel of twenty-six acres. I see people get that amount off of two acres. I can take a shovel up there and turn the soil over. It is a little packed but not badly. It is rich and black. It LOOKS like it should be beautiful soil. It LOOKS like it is rich. My hay guy wants to come in and spray herbicide and kill off the grass, Then he wants to plant soybeans for a year and then follow the soybeans with a stand of alfalfa. He says there are no nutrients in the soil and the nutrients need to be put back. He says that the brome grass that I have here is a heavy feeder and the nutrients are gone. Somehow this doesn't seem right. This ground has been in the Crop Reserve Program for twenty some years. The soil should be rested. The action of the dying grass, composting away should be sufficient to revitalize the soil. What is going wrong here? This question keeps weighing on me. Yesterday, a friend e-mailed an article to me about organic gardening, soil management and the disappearing topsoil. It was interesting. Then I went to a link on bio-nutrients. This was even more interesting. It described the soil as something similar to a society. All the parts have to function. It isn't enough to have the soil. It isn't enough to have the nutrients in the soil. There has to be life in the soil. Without the life in the soil there is no way for the plants to take up the nutrients. This was getting more and more interesting to me. Then I went to another link. It was an article on soils and "dark earth". Dark earth are pockets of fertility that were produced by south american cultures before white people appeared. This soil was somehow made so fertile, that it hasn't lost it's richness, even now, hundreds of years later. It is teeming with life. In this article they described the soil and gave descriptions of problem soil. They described my little farm, with it's beautiful black dirt, that can't even support an earthworm up on the hill. My farm is without life, without this kinder society. At one time, before the land went into crop reserve, it was farmed. How many chemicals would have been dumped on it back then? How much herbicide? How much pesticide? How much killing of the soil society took place, this earth terrorism? Last night, while Mac slept, I was reading and coming up with a plan. I can put down manures and wait for something to happen. It will take some time as the manure will need to compost and activate it's life, or I can go a faster route and give the land nutrients and transplant life. I am going to go the faster route. It will allow me to jumpstart the process, especially since I have no equipment to haul and spread manure. The faster route will be enriched manure teas that are enhanced. It would help if I had a means of spraying, but if I must, I can get this out on the hills with a watering can. It may be difficult, but at least it is possible. I can make the teas in one of my fifty-five gallon barrels. I can dip it into watering cans... however primitive the method, it can be begun now. Now, is a good thing. The manure tea will start off by soaking a bag of horse manure in a barrel of water, like a huge organic tea bag. After it has soaked for a day, remove the bag of manure and to the tea add wood ash, molasses, fish emulsion, seaweed extract if you can get it and either add, or spread on the ground, some rock dust. I can't afford to have rock dust trucked in so I will just start with some bags of lime from the garden center. I'm going to do this by sections as I can afford my ingredients. We will begin today. Life is coming back to the little farm. Louie

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