glyphosate

Chicken soup for the soil – a soil amendment I recently applied

One of the best things about my job is I get to see my mentors relatively regularly as the regenerative agricultural world is rather small. One of the pioneers of the movement in this country is Dick Isted. They farm near Lady Grey in the Eastern Cape. They have been building fertility there for many years. Click here to get some insight into their farm.

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Dick and his wife Margot came to the farm in October last year and after some hen massage we went looking in the soil. Dick was very clear that my plants needed help and the only way was through a soil amendment that Jerry Brunetti designed. He called it chicken soup for the soil. For the recipe and the suppliers of the various products click here chicken soup for the soil, oct 2016 Note that in Jerry’s recipe he used molasses. I have chosen not to use it as I have no interest in Glyphosate being on my farm. I am working on a blog on this carcinogen/descaling agent.

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Luckily for me I have neighbours who have the right, big spray equipment. The mixing tank on the right and the boom sprayer on the left and below.

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The boom sprayer in action

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To ensure that the mix is made up properly requires someone with brains. Fortunately Matt has plenty of that. He worked on the farm for 2 months after university, prior to going to the US. He has a podcast that goes by the name of In The Know. He interviewed me for his 6th episode.

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Was spending all that money worth it? Absolutely. First, as per the picture above there is good nodulation on the lucerne which was not there in October. Dick is pointing to one of the nodules on the plant roots that is the home of the bacteria that fix Nitrogen from the sky into the plants and the soil. Second, the farm has never looked as good as it did up to three weeks ago. This was after a very hot and long summer following a winter with half the normal rain. 95% of my irrigation water was cut 3 weeks ago. Here is the story.

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After seeing the impact of the chicken soup for the soil, the Isteds and I had a celebratory lunch. I had our rump. The our being the Isteds and I as I had bought the weaner oxen from them almost 2 years ago.

Angus

31 March 2017.

Ways to enjoy our produce as of 21 February 2017

Now that we have upgraded our product range we are updating how you can source our produce. The new products have no nitrates or nitrites added during production (Click here for more on this cancer free meat). If you don’t want to scroll through the photos from some of the work on the farm then please click here or go to BUY MEAT at the top of the blog.

06 JANUARIE 2017 NUUS RAPPORT Werkers by Spier deel die wins wat die plaas uit die verkoop van koolstofkrediete gemaak het. Die omgewingsvriendelike boerederypraktyke sluit in dat diere gereeld geskuif word en net elke ses weke na dieselfde stuk weiding terugkeer. Angus McIntosh is die boer aan stuur van sake. Foto: CONRAD BORNMAN/NUUS RAPPORT SUID Storie: Aldi Schoeman

Everybody loves a back rub. More on our outdoor egg operation here. Photo: Conrad Borman/RAPPORT

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Talent and Mzukisi proud of the bacon coming out of the smoker. They made the brine that the meat soaked in for 24 hours prior to being double smoked.

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We processed our first pigs from the farm last week, hence the different label (Farmer Angus’ Pork as opposed to Farmer Angus’ Meat where the pork comes from other free range farms). In picture is the pork rump which is on the menu at Spier’s Eight restaurant.

 

 

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The great regenerative farmer, Bertie Coetzee from Prieska, checking up on the organic maize he has planted for us. This is the second year that he is planting and so far the harvest looks a lot better than last year. Luckily he planted before he became a Dad. You can read about his organic maize exploits here.

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Thankfully Giles Edwards decided to leave London and come back to the sun. He blesses us with his food at La Tete. Above is a dish with our egg and our pig’s blood as well our pig’s head.

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28 day dry aged rump on bone. Expertly cut by Spencer. Available at Spier’s various restaurants, La Motte or at the PicknPay in Stellenbosch Square.

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Brined and then double smoked.

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Keeping a steady hand on all proceedings in our on farm butchery is our 72 year old Spencer Nicholls.

Please click here or go to BUY MEAT at the top of the blog page.

My first Limousin bull for sale

There are many reasons why I settled on the Limousin as my beef breed of choice. Cross breeding, Raymond Blanc, suitability to my farm, not black, slow maturing and more income for the same expense. If you are not interested in any of these reasons but want to see a video I took of him last week with his father then scroll down all the way to the bottom.

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The photo above explains the crossbreeding better than the medical explanation of the Myostatin F94L gene. Moeder in Afrikaans is Mother and Dogter is Daughter. Same expense (mother) but greater income (daughter). Mother (Dam) is an Nguni, father (Sire) a Limousin.

85% of Limousin bulls have the F94L gene. My bulls are all DNA tested and the one for sale is homozygous. What this gene does is double the number of muscle fibres, not double the size of muscle fibres which causes birthing problems. The result is small calves at birth but then a great expansion as they mature.

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A friend of mine sent me the above photo on Tuesday. The calf, photo taken on Monday, was one day old and you can already see that he is muscled like his sire, a Limousin, and not like his dam, an Nguni. Interestingly the calves always take the colouring of the mother and not the father.

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Raymond Blanc, the first chef in the UK to get Michelin stars, was visiting our farm years ago and he said that Limousin beef was best. Who am I to argue with him? That’s him in the white t-shirt above.

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Raymond was brought to the farm by Rudi Liebenberg. Rudi is the head chef at the Mount Nelson and has been a leading supporter of regenerative agriculture for many years. He even has to drive me around when he comes to visit.

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We are in the fortunate position where we can have bigger framed cattle such as the Limousin on our farm. We have winter rain and in summer we can irrigate. We apply the high density grazing methodology, most eloquently espoused by Joel Salatin and most famously espoused by Allan Savory with all our livestock. The cattle, our laying hens and our pigs are rotated daily to fresh pasture and regrazing only takes place 6 weeks later. The best breed for your farm is that which will adapt to your unique conditions.

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Limousin cattle are not black. If it is built like a Limousin but is black then the dam was an Angus and the sire a Limousin. We stopped buying in black cattle as they get so hot in summer that they get into the water troughs. We had to build metal cages to go over our water tanks so that the black cattle would not get in. The summers are only getting hotter.

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(A disclaimer before I mention maturing. I am talking about cattle on a grass only diet. Not the grain fed/confinement animal. Or the so called grass fed animal that is fed chicken manure and urea.) A slow maturing animal suits me. My production costs are very low. (1 labourer, solar powered electric fencing, average of 1 antibiotic injection across the entire herd every 6 months, no feed brought in from outside, food grown for free in winter and for a small irrigation fee in summer.) I want them to be 4 years old before they have the proper fat cover and intramuscular fat. The Limousin starts putting on that proper fat sometime after 3 years of age. The older the meat the greater the flavour. Also the bigger the carcass. Which leads me onto my next point.

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The photos above are of a Nguni hindquarter, on the left, weighing 53 kgs and a Limousin hindquarter, on the right, weighing 90 kgs. Both of them were 3.5 years old. It took me the same time to debone each one but obviously I got a lot more income (meat) from the Limousin for my expense (time). I elaborate on this expense/income story in this blog posting.

I am often asked which breed tastes best. An animal tastes of what it eats. Breeds are entirely irrelevant when it comes to flavour. South Africans have been bludgeoned into thinking that steak must be eaten with a sauce. This is because 99.99% of the beef comes out of a feedlot/grainfed/confinement operation and it has no flavour. The future of beef is terroir. A blog post on this will follow at some time.

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Finally we can meet the bull, SP 139. Born on the 12th of September 2013. Birth weight 45 kgs. His mother is a La Rhone cow. They are the famous stud near Tulbach. This means that he is genetically predisposed to know how to eat out of a feeding trough. His sire I bought from Sas Oosthuizen in Wellington. In the photo above he is with some of his brothers. They were castrated as they did not have the right form and semen count.

Angus

16 September 2016

P.S. The GoPro video below starts off a bit noisily so please bear with me. If you don’t understand the Afrikaans then contact me.

 

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