Pinky, Gannondorf, Doreta, Proust and Steiner
At the end of each day, just before dinner, Fabien would check the chicken coops for eggs. In the process, he also fed Pinky, Gannondorf and Doreta.
They were a special group.
Pinky and Gannondorf were rejects from a neighboring pig farm. It was a large commercial operation and they couldn’t afford to keep irregular pigs. Instead they gave them to us and we nursed them back to health.
Pinky had stunted growth, he was a midget pig, and Gannondorf should have died at birth. When he arrived at the farm, Gannondorf was a newborn and extremely ill. He was given a special organic grain diet with ground flax seeds and now he’s entering his third month of life. He seems happy.
There was also Doreta, the one-eyed chicken. A severe infection caused her left eye to puff up like a big wad of bubblegum. Her face was too sensitive to compete for food in the chicken pen so Fabien let her eat outside with Pinky and Gannondorf.
Watching the three of them eat together, separated from all the others, reminded me of a loneliness only experienced in middle school.
Later on, after dinner, after the beet salad, the red lentil curry and the crème glacée, I read while others played piano. Fabien sat down next to me and started reading too. He was reading Proust.
“Hmmm,” he said after a few minutes.
“Here, the author is talking about how our love for someone, our feeling of love, deepens when the love comes to an end. I would say that’s true to my experiences. What about you?”
“Love deepens at the end?” I said. “I don’t know, for me the end has always been a big mess that doesn’t make any sense. A panic. New love affairs, fist fights and yelling. I wouldn’t say my love ever deepened at the end. It was already gone by then.”
Fabien didn’t respond and went back to his book.
I waited a moment and then asked him to explain biodynamic farming.
“It’s very complicated,” he said. “It’s hard to explain.”
“Okay, well, can you just tell me some basic stuff? I don’t know anything about biodynamic farming. Nothing. And here I am working in the fields every day without knowing what’s actually going on.”
“Alright, then first you have to know about Rudolf Steiner …”
Fabien told me Steiner, the creator of biodynamic farming, Waldorf education and a fine architect, went to India to study under Annie Besant, a theosophist that influenced many well-known western intellectuals.
Besant had a strong interest in Hinduism. For this reason, biodynamic farming shares many core principles with traditional Indian agriculture.
The cow is the center of the farm.
Everything from the horn to the urine is used to enhance the vitality of the farm.
The position of the moon and the planets is also important. They dictate the day’s activities. There are root days, leaf days and flower days. On root days we only work with roots and leaf days are reserved for leaf activities.
Okay, Fabien’s explanations were vague, but at least we were getting somewhere.
He said the main goal of biodynamic agriculture was to treat the entire farm as a single organism. Resources are recycled, crops are rotated, external products are rarely used, and all fertilizers are made on farm.
It’s about self-sufficiency … the way we used to do things.
Then Fabien went on about the kinds of teas that go in the fertilizer. He showed me charts and moon calendars, but couldn’t explain them. I got the feeling he didn’t really understand biodynamic farming either.
Maybe no one did.
I spent the rest of the night watching the full moon rise. It was pink on the horizon, then yellow and later became silver. It lit up the fields so bright I could see my shadow. I could also see bats flying through the air and satellites orbiting the earth.
There was an eclipse in Egypt.
Ania and I biked to Montreal the next day. This time it took four hours. We only got lost once near the Jacques Cartier Bridge.
The farming experience, though strange at times, proved soothing to my brain and we knew we would be back soon.
© Diego Cupolo 2011