Monday, February 9, 2009

Long time listener, first time caller

So here begins my foray into what I intend to maintain as a peek into the life of the Barnyards, otherwise known as Mark and Sally Bernard. To begin, the explanation of the name comes from a unique group of individuals who attended Nova Scotia Agricultural college with us. Mark is a pretty big, fun loving, rugby player who quickly finds himself in the position of best buddies with a few hilarious farmers from the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia. The surname Bernard, in this case, is pronounced BUR-nerd, which apparently sounded too much like "Barnyard" to resist. Thus, a permanent nickname was born, of which I was lucky enough to adopt when I married into the clan.
The farm name, Barnyard Organics was born out of this, which brings us to this!

The history of the farm is an interesting tale for some other time/place, as this will hopefully stick to being a run-down of the goings on around here, throughout the year.
Currently, farm life is at a much slower pace than the rest of the year, with Mark spending most of his time in the tractor, blowing out driveways around the neighbourhood. My sheep are supposed to start lambing at any moment, so the anticipation is building on that front, but nothing yet.
Within the organic realm of things, of which I have an especially good view due to Mark being on many boards and committees, the discussion of the past few weeks has been the use of manure on organic crops and defining the sources, content (GM, etc.) and regulations regarding it all. This has been a really important issue for us, as larger scale farmers, since we must rely on a combination of green manure crops (clovers, etc.) and manure/compost for our nutrients and organic manure is extremely hard/impossible to get a hold of. Our sheep and chickens produce very little since they are out on the pasture most of the time and those who have organic manure generally tend to need it for thier own fields.
In the past we have developed really good relationships with some of our local dairy farmers in which we exchange some of our hayland for manure, which we age and turn on our land. Until now, this hasn't been a problem and has worked out really well for everyone. So far, fortunately, it looks like it will stay that way for now, with our certifying body, Atlantic Certified Organic (ACO). The discussion is not over however, and the policy is yet to be written in stone. So until then, we continue to do our research and look for alternatives, since we really would like to avoid having to use conventional manure or any conventional products for that matter on our soil.

As for the title of this blog, "For the Love of the Soil", it comes from an idea we were introduced to early on in our organic farming lives which states that in organic agriculture, what we are truly farming is the soil; the crops are merely an indicator of the soil. We like that idea and continue to live by it, wishing that all agriculture lived by the same ideal.


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