Living the Reality of February, Dreaming the Dreams of Spring
Hello from the Farm!
What a winter wonderland we're living in! We sure had some beautiful bluebird days here this month. Made a body happy just to be outside in the beauty of it all ... almost made me forget all about the -40 we had last month ... almost! ;)
The real danger of having such beautiful weather in February is that it gets me to thinking about spring. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE every season. As a lover of the land, I appreciate the beauty and purposefulness that each season brings to the landscape and the people dependant upon it, but truth be told, if I was forced to choose a favourite, it would have to be spring. After a long winter, the whole world comes alive again, and me with it! Come spring I'm always filled with fresh energy and excitement: new ideas to implement, new projects to build, new seeds to sow, new babies to be born. It's like falling in love with my life all over again every year! Buuuuut, I'm getting ahead of myself ... ironically, as I typed this paragraph, it started to snow. Sigh - we're not there yet ... but it's coming. I can feel it. On warm days when the snow starts to soften under the warm caress of the sun and the first few melty drops join together into the tiniest of trickles that dribble down the hillsides I sense the stirring of life beneath my feet, can almost hear the ancient call of the sun to the soil to awake from the slumber of winter, can feel the thrumming heartbeat of creation rising in response. It's too soon to hold my breath in anticipation of spring but I will because it calls to me too.
"There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens."
In Sickness and in Health ...
In mid-February I went down with the flu. Hard. Like 3 days laid out flat and 6 days with zero appetite or energy, hard. For 3 days I laid on the couch in agony. Constant nausea, headache so bad I could hardly open my eyes, deep throbbing aches in all my joints and bones, and an absolute aversion to every food my loving family tried to feed me. Awful! I rarely get sick but when I do - yikes! Anyway, I'm happy to report that I'm completely back to my healthy self and I've got to give a huge shout-out to my amazing family who totally filled in for my absence on the farm, in the kitchen and in life in general. I guess I'm not so irreplaceable after all! lol ;)
Seriously though, I came away from those days with a deep sense of gratitude for my health and a deep empathy for those who live daily with the realities of sickness. Unfortunately the number of people living with chronic disorders or disease has steadily been on the rise in the last 25 years. We as a society are at epidemic levels of autoimmune disorders, dementia, parkinsons, autism and autism spectrum disorders and possibly the most staggering statistic of all: at our current trajectory, 1 out of 2 people will be diagnosed with cancer before they die. I bet, like me, you don't have to think very long or hard before you can come up with the names of people you know, are in your family, or close friends of yours that are dealing with these conditions.
What the heck is going on with our health?
Recently I read an article by Zach Bush (he's a US physician specializing in internal medicine, endocrinology, and hospice care. He is also an internationally recognized educator on the microbiome as it relates to health, disease, and our food production system), that helped me to better understand why we're facing this health crisis. If you too are wondering what the heck is going on with our health then you might want to check out this article as well. I think what concerns me most about our health situation is that if this current decline has happened in a short 25 years what does the future look like? For my kids? For my someday grandkids? Thankfully, Dr. Bush gives some very practical advice for steps we can take to improve our health today!
What We're Working on Right Now ...
So here at 6S we are very focused on the health of our soils. We are strong believers in the ancient wisdom that:
Healthy Soils = Healthy Plants = Healthy Animals = Healthy People
At first glance it might look like winter is a time when we as stewards can't actively work on the health of our soils but the truth is actually very much the opposite. During the winter we do something that will positively affect our soils for years to come. In the picture above you can see one of our 'bale grazing' sites. Winter feeding of animals (that is animals out on the land and not in confinement) is an incredible opportunity to boost soil health. The cattle are given a certain number of bales each day to meet their nutritional needs and are allowed to spread out the feed, eat most, trample some and urinate and defecate over all of it. This leaves behind an incredibly fertile mulch that come spring becomes an absolute feast for the soil biology beneath. By bale grazing this site we will see a minimum 10 fold increase in the productivity of the soil and the polyculture of grass species that grow on it for years to come! It's a win in every way!
Below you can see a picture of one of our bale grazing sites from last year. The density of the sward is just phenomenal. We would be soaking wet from the hips down every time we walked through it because of the water holding capacity of both the grass and the soil. It's an absolute wonder to this soil nerd! :)
Happy February Everyone!