grass fed beef

All our products are now available on the farm. No more office pick up.

The Stellenbosch Farm Kitchen opened on the Spier Wine Farm today. I am thrilled that they have given me so much space for all our produce. More about our produce is here and more about our farming here and here.

The short video taken this morning shows the werf, first I am pointing out the Hoghouse Bakery and Barbeque, then I point to where we make our organic estate wines with grapes that we look after, behind that I point to the Eight restaurant and further on into the farm. Then into the Kitchen. All the ingredients for the picnics as well as many retail items. Especially the book that inspired me to start farming “The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

https://vimeo.com/232085869

 

What this does mean is that we no longer allow pick ups from our farm office.

Angus

1 September 2017

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.

Free choice mineral licks. Update. Biological farming vs mechanical farming.

In February 2014  I wrote this article about free choice mineral licks.

Since then we have expanded the range of minerals that are available to our cattle and we also now have free choice minerals for our pigs and for our laying hens.

The principle remains the same. All soils are deficient, the plants growing in those soils are deficient, the animals eating those plants (in this case my beef) are deficient and deficiency manifests as disease. The cattle self medicate by choosing which lick they need. 30% is used to fix the internal imbalance and the rest comes out of the back end biologically available to the plants.

In the last year I have had to give one of my animals antibiotics. One injection only. I ascribe this to moving them twice daily to fresh pasture as well as having the smorgasbord of free choice minerals available to them every single day.

 

Click here free-choice-mineral-lick-sept-2016 for a spreadsheet with the exact mixes that we use as well as the suppliers we get the various ingredients from. The spreadsheet has two worksheets.

To understand what I mean by farming biologically versus mechanically you need to understand how different our (biological) way is from the conventional (mechanical) way. The mechanical way it to take soil samples, send these off to laboratory and then apply the minerals recommended by the agronomist or technical advisor of the company selling the minerals. The minerals are spread via compost spreader that is pulled by a tractor. Calibration is a nightmare. Tractors cannot have babies, they use diesel, they compact your soil and tractor drivers are expensive labour. Whereas cattle can have babies. I can eat them when they have finished working, they don’t compact your soil (provided you move them daily), they don’t have to be calibrated and their drivers never have hangovers.

Angus

29 September 2016

 

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