Low stress stockhandling course on our farm, 27 September 2013

Dear fellow livestock lovers.

I read about Bud Williams in the Stockman Grass Farmer. He was the godfather of low stress stock handling and designed the Bud Box. Our cattle handling has changed dramatically for the better since we built and use the Bud Box.

Now there is an opportunity for us to learn from a man who was trained by Bud. David McLean is running a 1 day workshop on our farm, Spier in Stellenbosch on the 27th of September.

The document below goes into the relevant detail about the day. Suffice to say apart from the actual course, both theoretical and practical, the highlights will be the burgers for lunch made from our beef (click here to understand why it is so special) and the wine tasting of Spier’s finest at the day’s end.

In case you still needed to be persuaded about the Bud Box have a look here.

Although they will be working with cattle on that day as you can see from the information below the principles apply to sheep too.

I am not organising the event.

Bruce Brown from RCS is in charge. A huge thanks to him for getting the Australians here and an even bigger thanks to the Springboks for giving the convicts a hiding at Newlands the next day.

Angus

 

 

Photos of recent activity on the farm, 27 May 2013

All these photos have been taken by the amazing Eva van Niekerk over the last month. Click on her name to get to her website.

This is SP 1301.He will be given his Zulu name at weaning. The first Limousin Bull calf born this year and he is exactly a month old on the photo. Not brave enough to venture too far from Mamma’s legs…yet.

Here is our eldest son, Hamish, stirring the BD 500. The foundation biodynamic preparation (horn manure) which is stirred for an hour and then sprayed out onto the land. All these photos were taken in the Ezibusisweni vineyard which produces Chenin Blanc grapes from which I make straw wine. Notice the vortex he is generating. The quintessential form for the flow of energy in all nature.

Here I am having a go at creating a vortex. The idea is to create a vortex that reaches the bottom of the barrel and then create chaos by starting the other way.

The most important part of doing a BD500 stirring (it activates the soil and is in the words of the erudite Monty Waldin “a microbial tonic for the soil”, READ his website by clicking on his name for an excellent explanation of why we stir in biodynamics) is that the stirrer must have positive thoughts throughout the process. Two heads are better than one as Hamish and I think good vibes over the vortex.

A vortex just before it is plunged back into chaos. In the book Secrets of the Soil in Chapter 9 the authors go into great detail about the vortex and it’s significance to life.

Hamish stirring away with the Stellenbosch Mountains in the background.

I am trying to explain the significance of what is happening in the cosmos during the hour that we are stirring. The time of stirring is specifically chosen when the forces working on the root part of the plant are dominant.

Here I am filling a knapsack sprayer with Irisa, Eva’s daughter, holding the sieve to stop the nozzles from blocking. Using the knapsack is a great idea of Monty Waldin’s that enables one to cover a larger area than with the bucket method.

A great photo of Suzaan spraying out the BD500, using the bucket and brush method. Note the arc of the droplets.

Hamish as focused on spraying out the BD500 as he was on stirring it properly.

Lijan, another of Eva’s daughters, spraying out the BD500.

Hamish heading North, towards Slangkop (an ancient Khoi worship site), whilst spraying the BD 500.

My turn to apply the BD500 with some of the granite from Slangkop in the background.

This Limousin heifer could not deliver her first calf. We had to pull it out and she got hurt in the process. She was lame for two days. Here I am coaxing her to have a drink from the bucket.

I am rubbing Cape Khakibos onto her in attempt to get the little biting flies not to settle on her. Because she was lame she could not use her tail to chase them off. Thankfully with the help of our herdman Khipelakhe Mkhize, Tommie (Quantum Agriculture) Dyzel and the phytotherapist Dr Caren Hauptfleisch she was nursed back to health.

We are very proud of our egg operation. I am sorting eggs below. The sharp side must always be at the bottom.

Irisa holding onto her precious dozen of TRULY free range eggs. I am making sure that the double latch is properly secured.

Laying hens are very inquisitive if they are allowed to be in a natural environment. 24 out of the 25 million laying hens in this country live in metal cages with approximately an A4 page of space. The Eggmobiles are in the background. What on earth is an Eggmobile? Click here to find out

Whilst our daughter, Maya, looks on disapprovingly at my handwriting Hamish and his younger brother, Joshua, are trying to figure out how to connect the electronic scale to the measuring rods so we can weigh oxen.

I am waiting for the oxen that were in the BrazSeed trial to come in for weighing. We were testing the claims of the seed company that their daily weight gain would double as a result of eating this new grass.

The team in operation at the scale. Hamish operating the back door, Joshua the front, Maya looking enthusiastic about her role as scribe and me conducting.

Hamish and Joshua hoped that by making themselves small that SP 1301 would approach them. He is not convinced that it is safe away from Mamma.

I am trying to sort out a `Limousin heifer, Stellenbosch mountains in the background, but it appears that only the white cattle egrets are taking notice.

Alois, who is in charge of irrigation, giving me tips on how to repair PVC mainlines whilst preparing for the final egg collection of the day.

Thanks for watching.

Angus

 

Our egg price went up yesterday. Below is an explanation.

We last increased our price for our Pasture Reared Eggs in March of 2011.

The picture above was taken this afternoon after I received the Roche Yolk Colour Fan whose values were set in 1931. Our egg is a 15. The highest number on the scale. The eggs you buy in the shop are closer to a 1 which is also in picture. The reason is simply that our chickens get to eat a lot of grasses and legumes growing in our pastures whereas the only green thing the battery hens (24 million out of 25 million laying hens in South Africa)  and the “free range” hens see is the overalls of the worker.

Here is a letter that all our clients received last week explaining the increase and the undertaking not to increase our price again until October 2014.

17 april 2013, egg price increase

Thanks for your continued support.

We are working overtime to get ready for the next 1,000 hens that arrive on Monday.

Angus

We are all farmers by proxy – Wendell Berry

 

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