Search This Blog

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

A Soil Carbon Cowboy's Modified "Date Night"

With consecutive crop failures, organic farming is becoming anything but feasible financially.  Humbly, we have acknowledged that no matter how much our heart and soul is poured into our integrity, eventually one can only remortgage so many times!

So what does it look like to farm without chemicals and leaving the soil in better shape than we found it in?  How do we give BACK instead of TAKE?  Thanks to the life-work of Alan Savory, founder of Holistic Management, we have a renewed hope.  A six-day course in January lifted our spirits and filled us with renewed purpose.

I am proud of my husband for making this switch.  He has been grain farming from birth.  Some of his earliest memories consist of being dangled (while still in a diaper) into the combine to pull out a screw for his dad.  He lived and breathed grain farming and to say that it "runs in his blood" would be to minimize his ties to the earth he's worked these thirty-nine years.  But despite tearing off a piece of fabric from his life, he is using it to clean up the mess we are facing with our soil carbon, our costs and our farm.

No more grain farming.

Yep.  I had to check his pulse a few times in that process but here we are, seeding season and I am not kissing my husband goodbye for my usual spring/summer/fall widow-hood!  I'm watching him closely for a nervous tick to develop, but so far, he seems surprisingly peaceful.  Praise be to God!

So now what?

We are shifting our focus from mining nutrients from the soil and shipping it off our land, to putting nutrients BACK into the land using livestock and stock-density grazing.  It's about taking the carbon we've lost from the soil and getting it back in there where it belongs!  Phase 1 will include putting the whole farm to forage seed and getting a good plant root-establishment in place while setting up perimeter fencing and water piping for water supply throughout the whole farmland.  Once that's in place, we can get some animals on the land!  God-willing, the animals (primarily cows and some sheep... maybe goats?) could arrive as early as this fall but realistically, it will likely be spring 2015 before we're fully equipped.  So lots of work still this year but once the framework is established, all we will need to worry about is moving around inside-fencing (connected to the perimeter fencing) to create small paddocks for intense short-term grazing over all the fields.

Here is a great nine-minute video summarizing what we are working towards over the next couple of years.  The switch from seasonal widow-hood to weekly date-night of fencing together is much-welcomed (remind me of this after we've done miles and miles of fencing)! :)

My dear ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you a whole new Circle V Farms... may the fruit of our endeavours bring glory to God, may we honour His request that we be stewards of His land including giving our land its sabbatical year, and may we bless Him daily for the land He has given us.

God bless you all out there!

CUT 2.3 from Peter Byck on Vimeo.

For those of you interested in the phenomenal story of Alan Savory, below is his 22 minute TED talk video.

No comments: