Thursday, September 20, 2007

Of Cow Horns and Vortexes

Today was the start of a descending moon and we took the opportunity to make and apply a few hundred litres of preparation 500 to the Home Vineyard.

As you'll see below, preparation 500 is a very 'earthy' substance and so the timing of application was great - coinciding with the start of a cycle when the earth 'takes an inwards breath' as the moon is in a descending phase and life-forces move downwards and inwards, into the earth.

Max Allen's website Red White & Green has a great explanation of Biodynamics (BD) and the composition and function of the various BD preparations. He describes preparation 500 as the "cornerstone of Biodynamics". To start, we used cow manure which had been buried inside a cow horn over winter and stirred this into barrels of rainwater which we warmed to body temperature. This was stirred for an hour - with office and vineyard staff all having a turn using the reverse vortex method. As Max Allen describes, this is "where the water is stirred in one direction until a vortex forms in the bucket - and then, when the vortex reaches the bottom, the stirring direction is reversed, creating chaos in the liquid. ... this works on many levels, depending on who you talk to: this is either a way of attracting cosmic influences into the liquid - or just a bloody good way of mixing stuff up."

Next, the liquid was 'flicked' out on the vineyard. Not to be confused with liquid fertiliser, this is more about "seeding the vineyards with little droplets of life" in Estate Manager Colin Ross's words, "like cultures used to

make yoghurt and yeasts fermenting grape juice". By stimulating soil bacteria and fungi, it improves soil structure and microbiological activity and helps nutrient exchange between vine roots and the soil.

This last picture shows Aman Chowfin making natural brushes
used to 'flick' the preparation out into the vineyard. >>

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