You will have to have been living under a rock in this day and age if you haven’t heard of Round Up! Like CSG, it is one of the things that most people seem to have an opinion about.
There were many factors behind the next stage of our journey and Round Up was definitely one of those. As I mentioned in the first blog, we had been using RU pretty much since it came on the market as a herbicide for weed control in our fallows so we could conserve moisture for grain growing. It was a model we adopted as Peter’s underlying farming philosophy was to keep the water in the soil and the soil in the paddock.
It is a sound philosophy and one we still stand by. But with a less blinkered view of how that may be achieved. Hindsight is a beautiful thing!
Over the years volumes of RU needed had slowly increased as resistance developed. Oh, how smart is nature and how we as humans have lived by war metaphors and sadly still do this. War on cancer, war on terror, pretty much name anything and we have a war on it. A philosophy we have definitely moved away from – thank God!
As more and more was being published around Round Up and its health implications, I began to get some deep concerns. As did Peter, though initially, his were slightly different. Peter’s being that if we didn’t have RU, the other chemicals available were even more toxic. We were in a bit of a bind – Peter still loved his farming and wheat growing and he was good at it. Still a low chemical user in the scheme of traditional farming.
We both started looking for alternatives. At around the same time, I became quite unwell. We were overseas at the time in the USA. Serendipitously Peter was at a Regenerative Farming conference in Texas and I was at an adult development training in California when I was stricken with severe back pain. It kept getting worst and I had other weird symptoms going on. We got back together and had a few days stuck in Sedona (it was stunning with snow and red mountains) mainly seen by me from a horizontal perspective. Sedona is a place with lots of healers there and I saw a few hoping to get enough relief to be able to get on a plane to home. A hellish few days for us both.
Getting home revealed I was in a place where my whole system was inflamed – so many false diagnoses. Thankfully I listened to my body and with the help of our local naturopath and two integrative Drs came out the other side.
On that journey, I delved deep into gut health and we had already both begun looking more deeply at soil health from a more holistic biological perspective. The link between the two is strong. Not being able to do much, I consumed books
‘The Song of the Reed Warbler’ by Charles Massy sent to me by a dear friend was one of the first. I can truly say it was a life-changing book and Peter agrees. I almost stood over him til he started to read it! Once he started, he too was hooked.
Since then, we have both read and connected widely with the amazing folk who have been stalwarts of the Regenerative Agricultural movement and continue to be astonished by its possibilities. It really is beginning to take momentum.
As this was all unfolding, the weather here was pretty intense. We are used to drying here but it was getting increasingly drier over a number of years with a subsequent deep deficiency in moisture building up. Trees dying before our eyes.
Our livestock numbers were at a minimum – in survival mode. Between the weather and what we were learning, no crops in the ground for those years.
They say the hardest paddock to change is the one between your ears – as a coach, I can agree with that. Change is hard for humans, but it is certainly possible. It takes faith in something larger to act as a guiding light and all the knowledge we had gained and the connections we had made gave us that light to make some big changes at a time when uncertainty and unpredictability were high.
Strangely in a way, that helped.
As I have said, Peter is capable and practical and yes, he has used those ag engineering skills he learned. Heading away wasn’t just for the purpose of meeting me! So together with Charlie Lange, a great young regenerative farmer, they converted our planting gear into a one-pass roller crimper and we began our No Kill journey into regenerative farming.
The shift from paddocks of monoculture planting was big. Our idea of how our paddocks should look was turned on its head. From neat and tidy to wild and rambunctious! From controlling to allowing, from monocultural sameness to biodiverse emergence.
Nature is truly astonishing. We watched as our neat paddocks turned into a monoculture of roly poly- initially wondering what the hell we had done. SO relieved to learn that was the first step to healing. The longer we work with nature the more we are amazed as life emerges in new and wise ways.
The journey is really only beginning for us and we look forward to sharing it with you all as together we learn and bow down in awe to the Natural Intelligence which surrounds us and of which we are a small yet vital part. Always listening, always learning.