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There is something really incredible about the way animals and plants work together in nature.  They are completely dependent on one another to survive.  Animals require the nutrients within the plants and plants require the digested nutrients dispelled by the animals.  If either end stopped producing, both would die.  And yet, when they work in conjunction it creates a circle of life…if I may quote The Lion King.

As a farmer you act as a link in that circle.  You connect the animals and plants in appropriate proportions and times to keep each end happy and producing.

This week I have been adorned composting champ since I am supposedly a very fast composter… So what composting is composed of (wordplay lol) is first shoveling the deep dark under layers of the manure pile from out side the barn into a wheel barrow.  The reason you want to the deep dark layer from the bottom of the pile is because this manure has had worms galore further breaking up the manure into a rich soil for the plants and also the under layers have been compressed by the top new layers forcing it to become dense.  This creates the perfect material for hungry plants.

The second step in composting requires you to wheel the wheelbarrow down to the fields and distribute it among the rows.  What you are doing here is taking heaping handfuls of the rich dark compost and spreading it around the base of the plant.  Wether it is squash, cucumbers, beets, pumpkins, they all need and love it.

And it is really amazing to see how the plants react to the compost.  I swear the day after I composted the beets they must have grown at least two inches.  Nature, ah…gets me every time.

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These are oat cover crops. Soon the pigs will be released into this section and begin loosening up this soil.

Another amazing example of the circle of life is evident in the pigs and their role in the circle of farm life.  Each year one of the fields on the farm gets a rest.  Cover plants (peas and oats here) are planted to protect the soil and restore the nitrogen in it.  This is also where the pigs are.  So the pigs have an interesting way of finding food.  Other than eating all of our leftovers, the pigs use their snouts to dig under the soil to reach yummy bugs and grubs.  In doing so the pigs are loosening up the soil creating a perfect consistency for the next season’s crop.  Also their (to be blunt) poop and pee is enriching the soil with a firm layer of compost and moisture.  This creates the ideal space for vegetables to grow in the coming year.

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Lastly, the sheep act as a natural mower (although the farm still needs to be mowed time to time).  The sheep are moved from one section of the yard to the next ripping the top off all the grass as they go.  It is really incredible to see, when the fence is moved how you can see the exact orb which it previously inhabited by the difference in grass height.  It basically looks like someone mowed inside that orb.

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And I guess all this information is obvious to most farmers, yet when I have been removed from the land, animals and plants, and the ways in which they are connected for my whole life, seeing them work in perfect harmony continually impresses me.  So here’s to nature, you’re amazing.

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