Spier Wine Farm

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.

IMG-20161018-WA0019

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.

20170213_085748

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.

20170213_100008-1

The boom sprayer in action

20170215_165507

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.

20170329_084906

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.

20170328_145746

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.

My water has been cut by 95%

Last week I had to offload half my cattle herd. This was because my irrigation water has been cut by 95%. My cattle only eat the grass that grows on our farm. In summer we need to irrigate to keep this grass growing. I am one of thousands of farmers getting water from the Theewaterskloof Dam. I am not the first farmer to have his water cut.

Cape Town’s water engineers specifically and the municipal management generally are responsible for this extra pressure they are putting on agriculture, the second largest employer in the Western Cape. Simply, these engineers are not using Cape Town’s greatest asset which is the millions of litres of water pouring off the mountains that the city surrounds on a daily basis. The millions of litres go into stormwater drains and thence into the sea.

Cape Town was settled by the Dutch because of the water that poured off the mountain. There were 36 springs recorded in the City Bowl alone.

Not only would using this water for the residents of Cape Town take one of the many pressures off farmers (Farmers have enough pressure as it is. An article I wrote on this subject in 2012 which is still relevant today, is here), Cape Town residents would be drinking the most wonderful healthy water. On every measure spring water is better to drink than the chemically treated water that comes out of the taps. The person who did the most work on understanding water was Viktor Schauberger who I can guarantee you no water engineer has ever even heard of. Try to read his books. If not then here and here are good places to start. Especially the second here.

Let me preempt some clever academic or activist who from behind their computer screen, not from any experience of the soil, will no doubt say that beef uses too much water and we should all become vegan. We use 46% of the recommended water used for pastures and 4.8% of the recommended water for vineyards. There is an intentional . between the 4 and the 8 in the previous sentence. We use so much less water because we practice regenerative agriculture that builds soil carbon and hence the water holding capacity of the soil. Our beef contains the right fats because the animals are raised on grass unlike the vegan kale which contains 17 types of pesticides. Healthy fats are the cornerstone of a proper diet (Read “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A Price if you dispute this). Furthermore our beef operation generates Carbon credits which no vegan farming operation anywhere in the world can do.

I finish on a positive note. Stellenbosch Municipality is going to charge farmers who practice regenerative agriculture less rates and taxes than conventional farmers who poison and pollute as they go about their business as usual.

Angus

20 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

20170201_112934

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.

20170220_194057

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.

 

 

IMG-20170112-WA0002

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.

IMG-20170203-WA0007

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.

20170127_133122

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.

20161220_173323

Brined and then double smoked.

20170206_124829

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.

1 2 3 17  Scroll to top