The transition started with a three year battle against the soil, or rather a battle of us trying to understand the soil and the plants, and what they are telling us. We had to learn to farm with them instead of against them. The fourth year was not only a battle trying to understand the soil, but it began our battle of trying to understand our cows. It began a year of building fences (which is a total of about 8km at present), and it began a year of grazing, which was a whole new world for us and our cows. That first year with the cattle was one of the hardest. From animals not even knowing how to walk outside and eat grass from the pasture, to us not being able to treat illnesses with antibiotics anymore.
That year showed us all the faults we had in our operation, and how much we heavily relied on antibiotics to prop up the poor areas of our farm, even though we didn't think we did. We started a slow but steady process of eliminating the poor areas of our farm to make them healthier for the animals in order to prevent sickness naturally, so that we wouldn't have sick cows. It has been a tough road and we are still not there yet. Our cattle's health can never be too good.
Even though these years were tough, there were always small feelings of satisfaction that came our way, letting us know that we were on the right track. From seeing the cattle learn to graze in the pasture, to seeing the pastures all in flower and fluttering with all sorts of life as we move the cattle from one pasture to the next. Larger flocks of birds than we had ever seen before began living out in our pastures alongside the cows. We get to see lots of wildlife when we are out and around, moving the cattle, and we even had a colony of honeybees move into a hollow tree in our yard last year. It has just brought so much beauty back to our farm.
Now that we are well on our way with the dairy herd, I would like to start what I feel is the next step in organics, and that is adding biodiversity to our farm. This basically means adding different kinds of animals to the farm and learning how we can farm them all together, for the benefit of everyone. This is the way nature intended animals to live. It will be a new learning curve for us, but it will be an exciting one!
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