frost and farming
Once upon a time there was a planet covered in vegetation with great big animals and small animals, bacteria, and fungi (and other stuff we probably don't even know about anymore) wandering and living all over it, disturbing the soil, breaking the vegetation, pushing over trees, eating the grass and leaves and pooping.
It is difficult for us to imagine what that was like we have moved so far away from it. But it was probably noisier (as all intelligent people know nature is a noisy beast) and full of many things that we are afraid of like snakes and spiders and insects that make you jump in the night. And I imagine enormous flocks of birds that darken the sky as they pass and also poop considerable quantities of poop over the planet. They may well have been the planet microbiome manager as they distributed different organic material everywhere from other places. Essentially mixing it all up so the planet stayed healthy. Probably an important function of migrating sea animals like whales, the seas microbiome managers.
Patrick recently did a course entitled "Syntropic agriculture". In short it was about trees, and organic matter and growing food. Very interesting. I admit I have a short attention span for absorbing information, lack of practice I guess. So I rely on the boys to filter and feed me titbits during the week until I have a picture of what different systems are trying to achieve and how it could work in our system.
Some while back I had a FB conversation with a Frenchman living in Austrailia whose grandfather and great grandfathers were winegrowers in France and the grandfather remembered when all the trees were taken out of the vineyards so fields were larger and it easier to use equipment in the vines. And then I read another article about agroforestry in vineyards, there is a vineyard that practices this not far from us, which touched upon the connectivity in plants and protection from the weather and other stuff. And then I got to thinking about frost......
All of which is very lengthy to cover here... But a few thoughts were if vineyards and orchards were smaller and surrounded by hedgrows and trees of differing heights or even completely mixed up then would the effect of frost be so large. A textured landscape with ups and downs creates air movement as the air bounces off the different heights and textures of plants. If vineyards were mulched would the heat created by breaking down plant material be enough to disturb settling frost. If soils were healthy and full of microbial activity would they be warmer and prevent settling frost. If we were less obssessed with monoculture for ease and simplicity would animals sleeping in orchards and vineyards increase the air temperature enough to prevent frost damage.
There have been many incidences of lost production due to frost recently so maybe it is time to change productions methods to find a way of living with changes in climate rather than battling againct it. Many cereal farmers will have cursed that patch of green wheat that grows under the tree in the hedgrow and is always green when the rest of the field is ready to harvest. And is also never damaged by frost.
The workers resting
On the other side of the coin the forests around us, though they glorious to look at, are often stagnant underneath, there are no Dinosaurs, Mamoths and Aurochs to move around breaking up and mixing up the soils. there are no fresh pools of grass dappled in sunlight as the canopy is so dense it blocks the light required to create growth and new life. Another monoculture.
We are here on the planet and have already interfered with the natural cycle of things. The answer to global health maybe to adapt, modify behaviour, mix it all up, blend in and be less rigid. In a straight fight with nature, trust me there is no way we are going to win.
See you all soon
I know you all think my french is fabulous..... ha ha ha, so I must admit that the lovely Marie photographed above with my youngest last summer, does all my translating. You do a fabulous job, Marie, and I am eternally grateful that you have the time and energy to pick through all my colloquial English. xx
I am farming sheep and goats on the Dordogne/Gironde border with my husband and our 3 children. We have an on farm butchery and sell our meat direct to the public via the markets and delivery points in our local area