Biodynamic farming gives us a great way to implement our vision of walking the land and farming in a sacred manner. A lot of farming is plain hard work. Whether it's fixing tractors, spending hours and hours driving a tractor cutting hay, raking hay, baling hay and bringing it all into the barnyard to be stacked, cleaning out corrals…. It can be a challenge both physically and mentally. So how to get the magic back into farming? Break out the Preparation 500 and stir vigorously, making a spiral vortex first clockwise and then counter-clockwise for an hour and suddenly time changes and one is channeling in cosmic forces from all the planets and constellations! Preparation 500 was developed by Rudolf Steiner and is made by filling cow horns with cow manure and burying them in the ground over winter. It is said the earth’s energy transforms the manure over the winter and it becomes a magic formula that can help, after it is stirred and spread out on the land, to re-invigorate the soil and help it come into a healthy state. And while spreading the magic potion preparation 500 out on a field, one naturally contemplates the planets and the cosmos and asks for the elemental beings to be nourished…
After finishing our year long Biodynamic apprenticeship with Anthony Mecca with the Biodynamic Demeter Alliance the rhythm and the way we experience the farm have dramatically changed. Biodynamic farming is so much more than a planting calendar or applying preparations. Through much of the apprenticeship Anthony stressed developing our perceptions and ability to be present with and communicate with the plants / insects and animals we live with. Even the mineral worlds. He explained how unless we apply ourselves by developing our ability to perceive - through our senses (smell, warmth, word sense, thought sense, ego sense, life sense, self-movement sense, balance sense, sight, touch, hearing,) we miss so much of what is going on. He introduced the idea that the worlds of seen and unseen beings are open to communication and that by cultivating a relationship with the mystical etheric worlds we may find ourselves learning / receiving information from new sources that can inform and help our efforts at farming. Cultivating a receptive state of mind allows one’s curiosity to flourish, which in turn changes the nature of time. This allows one to stop and listen more often, to bow before the sacred as it may appear - be it to acknowledge the majesty of SandHill Cranes flying overhead calling out their ancient migration song, or to wonder at bumble bees intoxicated on a resplendent flowering Bee Balm bush. From sunrise to sunset and under the great milky way of stars, each day one comes to witness miracles unfolding. Even in the breakdown - a flat tire, getting stuck in the mud - there is opportunity to witness the resolution unfold!
If Biodynamic farming did not work - if it was just for the fun of it, it might be worth it! But fortunately it also produces miraculous changes in the soil structure, as the soil gets darker with more texture and tilth demonstrating increasing levels of complexity. Our heavy clay soil is less likely to form clods with tillage and after walking on a newly tilled field one can feel a certain spring in the earth as one walks across the field. Resiliency is increased. Our soil has increased our soil’s ability to absorb and hold onto moisture. allowing the increasing extremes of weather we are experiencing to be better tolerated.
Our biodynamic compost is a key hidden special magic ingredient on the farm. One key ingredient is the dedicated labor of Aaron Cisneros who cleans out the barnyard and dumps the Sheep, horse and llama manure, Alfalfa leaf, and straw in an ever growing pile over the course of the fall and winter months. Periodically, the pile is turned with the front-end loader and then the Biodynamic compost preps (Oak bark, Valerian, Chamomile, Yarrow, Dandelion, Stinging Nettle) are added with each turning. Finally in the spring, the pile is moved out into the bottom of one of our irrigated fields. The Compost preps are added one more time and then we flood-irrigate the field. The water is absorbed from the bottom of the pile. The addition of water causes the proliferation of microbial growth. The biological explosion of energy causes the pile to heat up to over 140 degrees, initiating the composting process. With the presence of the biodynamic preps in the compost the pile creates an organizing intelligence which when spread on the land gives the land the information it needs to undergo a natural healing process. It is like homeopathy in which a remedy allows the body to undergo healing by showing it an example of what a healing path looks like. We typically wait 3 years and then spread the compost on the fields. It is remarkable how plants grow after being treated with the compost!.
At present we are developing a way to expand our ability to apply preps to larger acreage. Below you see what we consider our favorite way to mix and spread the biodynamic preparation 500 and 501. Here Waldorf students are mixing the preps by hand and then spreading them out across the field by hand. But with 320 acres we would like to cover we needed to discover ways to spread preps on a larger scale. We built a fountain with flow forms which turns the water in spirals clockwise and counter-clockwise as the water falls down the waterfall. We make a “tea “of for example Preparation 500 or 501 and then “stir” it using the fountain. With this method we can make 55 gallons at a time. Two batches will fill the tank on our newly renovated 25 foot long boom sprayer which is powered by the PTO on our tractor. With each tank we can apply either preparation 500 or 501 to 14 acres in as little as 40 minutes.
We spread the “Three Kings Preparation'' over New Years for the first time this year. We ground the Myrrh, Gold and Frankincense over an hour as 2022 passed into 2023 and then we stirred the preparation and spread it along the 4 mile border of our property. In doing so we were making a prayer and a commitment to the Elemental beings - asking them to come and live here with us on the farm, and committing to them to make the farm a safe place for them to be by spreading preparation 500 and 501 during the nest year and spreading biodynamic compost on the land. We are not sure who the Elemental beings are, but especially since spreading the Three Kings'' we can feel them in the presence of the magical beings - Their presence is reflected in the increased number of medicinal plants appearing on the land, the increase in the numbers or butterflies and medicine animals and birds who are making the farm their home. Their presence seems reflected in the increase in the numbers of insects - bees, bumble bees, ladybugs by the tens of thousands and we feel them as invisible helpers because farming seems easier and creative solutions seem to manifest with increased frequency!, So three cheers for the Three Kings Prep and the Elemental beings!