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September 2016

And the Reality Is…

By Market GardenNo Comments

Most people enjoy honesty. Maybe they’re even relieved by it. So many blogs especially, will highlight the high points of someones life, achievements or whatever. But what’s going on behind the scenes?

Well, sit back, relax and have a glimpse at what this week at Birdsong Market Garden was like…

School holidays are here, we homeschool and so the children are with me all the time anyway. But it’s sweet to have a break from lessons. Contrary to what so many people seem to think about there being a lack of socialising for homeschoolers, we’re inundated with people at times. School holidays especially. Sleepovers, visits and the like…it’s all happening. So on top of our 6 little farmlings, we had my niece 2-3 days a week while my sister works in town. Then there were friends having sleepovers and friends visiting from out of town and friends coming for dinner. Friends are a blessing, don’t get me wrong, but it’s busy! About 2 days ago I just crashed. All I’d wanted these school holidays was a day off, but instead it’s been lots of extra work, and I’d broken out in a very itchy rash, had to avoid dairy…blah blah blah. Anyway, that morning I just dropped on the couch and let the family fend for themselves for a while. I was pooped!

We also had neighbours dropping in to give us surplus mulberries, and another more distant neighbour coming in search of fertile light sussex chicken eggs. Animals bring people together, I can tell you that! I was able to give her some fertile eggs, though couldn’t guarantee their light sussex purity as we have 4 very effective roosters on the farm, and only one of them is a light sussex. She noticed our lone duck (his mate was eaten by a fox ages ago) and so came back several days later to say she knew a guy who wanted to pass on his 4 ducks, who were making too much of a mess of his yard. He wanted chooks instead. So I contacted him and we did a trade. His 4 ducks (one of whom is sitting on eggs) for 4 of our hens. We’ve got loads of hens, and two of them are sitting on eggs, so there’ll be even more soon!

Rick has been building the propagation house…our seedling nursery. This will be a huge help in freeing up ground space during the seasons. Instead of a plant needing say, 12 weeks in the ground, it can spend the first 6-8 weeks of it’s life protected in the propagation house, and then move into the paddock. While it’s in the nursery, something else can be occupying that space in the paddock…maximising crop varieties and yields. Building this poly-tunnel has been a big job. Primarily because it’s huge and often needs an extra set of hands. We’ve been so blessed to have a friend of Rick’s offer to help now and then in exchange for some produce. Big help. But he has his own life and own children, so most of the time when Rick needs help, he calls on me. And having 6 children, loads of animals and homeschooling etc, I’m not often just sitting around looking for something to do. So there I’ll be, cooking lunch or something, and Rick will call me to come and give him a hand with the propagation house, or hold some steel while he cuts it. It’s incredible how much Rick has been able to do alone, but sometimes he needs help.

Technology, ah, technology. We live in just the right location to miss out on luxuries like NBN and even ADSL. And mobile networks other than Telstra. So for the three years we’ve lived here, we put up with little reception and VERY slow internet speeds. Then came the business and Rick wisely said we need some reliable service. So a good portion of the holidays was spent sorting that out. It should have been simple, but porting a mobile number turns out to be very messy when you’ve forgotten that the old account was in your husbands name and not your own. I spent days on and  off the phone between our old and new providers trying to get it sorted. But now I can actually receive calls and hear the person on the other end properly. And use internet that loads pages at a reasonable speed. One day I got a photo of our 6 year old asleep at the computer. She’d literally dropped off while waiting for her Reading Eggs page to load! That’s how bad our internet used to be.

Every day more equipment for the market garden arrives. It’s all coming together slowly. We’d been all geared up to get a shade net over the whole plot to filter the hot summer sun and make working in summer that little bit more bearable. Then we got the quote back. Gulp. It was about $20k more than we expected! So Rick the DIY king, now plans to order the materials and do it himself. He’ll try just about anything!

That’s a bit of recent life at Birdsong for you. Today is Rick’s birthday, and he’s spent it working on the farm, with the exception of a quick trip to the Meringandan Pub with me for lunch.

 

Vitamins given off into the air by plants are utilized are utilized by plants themselves. The air of forests, and meadows is the richest in volatile vitamins

N A Krasil’nikov

Minerals, you say?

By NutritionNo Comments

IMG_0020So what’s all this talk about minerals? And produce being ‘mineral-rich?’ Isn’t it anyway? Well over the course of our lives we hadn’t thought a great deal about the quality of our food. But then a relative of ours loaned us a CD to listen to. It was a talk by Dr Joel Wallach called ‘The Best of ‘Dead Doctor’s Don’t Lie'” We listened attentively, as we drove out to Greenmount one sunny afternoon. It was shocking. Here was this man who’d grown up on a farm where cattle were supplemented to make sure they were getting all they needed, but the humans sure weren’t…and this man started to question human nutrition. He went on to become a vet, which is significant, because vets are trained differently, more thoroughly you could say, than GP’s. Vets need to know about multiple species, whereas a regular doctor focuses on one-humans.  Anyway, after something like 14,000 autopsies on a vast array of animals, Dr Wallach was noticing certain mineral deficiencies were linked to certain degenerative diseases. Actually, he became convinced that EVERY degenerative disease was a direct result of a mineral deficiency. What really got me was his rundown on copper deficiency.  First you’ll get premature greying of the hair…then varicose veins, then hemorrhoids, and if it gets depleted from your system enough…an aneurysm. Why it struck me, was because in the course of having 6 children, I’d developed those symptoms (minus the aneurysm) in just that order! But I had such a ‘healthy’ diet, so where was this copper deficiency coming from?

Before long a friend was excitedly informing me that a John Kohler was coming to town. He had been given 3 months to live back in the 70’s…yet there we were in 2015 and he was still very much alive. Why? He’d met a man, who later became his father-in-law, who taught him about the serious lack of minerals in the human diet, due to poor soil nutrition from our modern farming practices. This man also got John on a personalised mineral program  to get his system back in order. I was intrigued, and went to listen to John tell his story. I tried a personalised mineral program too, but something didn’t seem right about having to take all these supplements when the food we eat should be supplying them. Why couldn’t farmers just look after their soil, quit the toxic chemicals and allow us to eat nutritious produce? John said his father-in-law had tried, in vain, to convince the USDA (whom he used to work for) that our farming practices were destroying the health of the populous. But they wouldn’t listen. Why?

Money. It’s just so profitable to get a farmer buying GMO seeds, that need replacing each year, and then to have them need a list of chemicals to keep these crops ‘healthy’ and ‘disease free’ so they’re salable.

But did you know that pests and disease don’t attack healthy plants? Just like a truly healthy human won’t attract sickness and disease, neither will a healthy plant. For example, one day when I was a little exasperated with the cabbage moth attacking our crop, I asked an experienced gardener friend what could be wrong. ‘Boron deficiency’ he replied. Ah, another mineral issue. But it’s not just a case of sprinkling the crop with boron. Minerals exist cooperatively. They work together and not alone. And they also need the help of microbes, which are like the digestive enzymes of the soil.

To get back to the story though, Rick and I decided we should try getting our minerals via our food. And farmers that sell crops grown both organically AND from remineralised, nurtured soil, are few and far between. So we (well, Rick actually did most the work!) started a vege plot on our property to grow these veg ourselves. We had the soil tested, according to the standards of William Albrecht, an authority on soil and it’s relation to human health. With those results, we set to work balancing our soil and preparing it for planting. About 250kg of minerals went into the soil, plus a lot of mulch, and we reaped a LOT of food that summer! I’ve always been a bit of a human guinea pig with things like this, and decided I’d quit my vitamin and mineral supplements (I was dealing with thyroid autoimmune disease and taking lots of natural supplements to help) and see what difference I saw in my health. For 3 months we ate loads of produce, picked fresh from the balanced garden. And yes, my health improved. One of my symptoms had been fatigue. I was drained fairly constantly, and often would go to bed soon after 7:30pm when the children did the same. But this produce was giving me energy. I was starting to feel alive again and managed to start staying up later!

As the months passed by, the desire to start a market garden and produce enough food to help many others as a living, became stronger and stronger in Rick. He felt like his electrical engineering job was a waste of time, when this wholesome gardening opportunity was before him. He spent hours and hours each week reading up on how to create a garden that would grow the food people really need. Healing food. Whole food. Food that’s just brimming with life.

And eventually, he took the plunge. He quit his engineering job and started creating Birdsong Market Garden. So, when we rave on about ‘mineral-rich’ food, I hope you will now have a slightly better idea why.