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The Agriculture Course

Agriculture Course: Discussion after Lecture 4

Schmidt Number: S-5762

On-line since: 26th June, 2007


DISCUSSION
KOBERWITZ,
12th June, 1924.

Question: Should the dilution be continued arithmetically?

Answer: In this respect, no doubt, certain things will yet have to he discussed. Probably, with an increasing area you will need more water and proportionately fewer cow-horns. You will be able to manure large areas with comparatively few cow-horns. In Dornach we had twenty-five cow-horns; to begin with we had a fairly Large garden to treat. First we took one horn to half a bucketful. Then we began again, taking a whole bucketful and two cow-horns. Afterwards we had to manure a relatively larger area. We took seven cow-horns and seven bucketfuls.

Question: Could one use a mechanical stirrer to stir up the manure for larger areas, or would this not be permissible?

Answer: This is a thing you can either take quite strictly, or else you can make up your mind to slide into substitute methods. There can be no doubt, stirring by hand has quite another significance than mechanical stirring. A mechanist, of course, will not admit it. But you should consider well what a great difference it makes, whether you really stir with your hand or in a mere mechanical fashion. When you stir manually, all the delicate movements of your hand will come into the stirring. Even the feelings you have may then come into it.
Of course the people of to-day will not believe that it makes any difference; but you can tell the difference even in medical mattes. Believe me, it is not a matter of indifference whether a medicament is prepared more manually or mechanically. When a man works at a thing himself, he gives something to it which it retains. To mention one example, this is notably the case with the Ritter remedies, with which some of you are no doubt familiar. You must not smile at such things. I have often been asked what I think of the Ritter remedies. You are perhaps aware that there are some who sing hymns of praise on their behalf, while others spread the tale that they have no particular effect.

Undoubtedly they have an effect. But I am firmly convinced that if these remedies were brought on to the market in the usual way they would very largely lose their influence. With these remedies especially, it makes a great difference if the doctor himself possesses the remedy and gives it to his patient directly. When the doctor gives such a thing to his patient, when it is all taking place in a comparatively small circle, he brings a certain enthusiasm with him. You may say the enthusiasm as such weighs nothing; you cannot weigh it. Nevertheless it enters into the vibrations if the doctors are enthusiastic. Light has a strong effect on the remedies; why not enthusiasm? Enthusiasm mediates; it can have a great effect. Enthusiastic doctors of to-day can achieve great results. Precisely in this way, the Ritter remedies can have a far-reaching influence.

With enthusiasm, great effects can be called forth. But if you begin to do it in an indifferent and mechanical fashion, the effects will soon evaporate. It makes a difference whether you do the thing with all that proceeds from the human hand — believe me, very much can issue from the hand — or whether you do it with a machine. By and by, however, it might prove to be great fun — this stirring; and you would no longer dream of a mechanical stirrer even when many cow-horns were needed. Eventually, I can imagine, you will do it on Sundays as an after-dinner entertainment. Simply by having many guests invited and doing it on Sundays, you will get the best results without machines!

Question: No doubt there will be a little technical difficulty in distributing half a bucketful of water over one-fifth of an acre. But when you increase the number of cow-horns the difficulty will rapidly increase — quite out of proportion to the number. Can the given quantity of water be diluted still more, or is it essential to preserve the proportion of half a bucketful? Must you take about half a bucketful to one-fifth of an acre?

Answer: No doubt it will be possible as you suggest. But I think the method of stirring would then have to be changed. You might do it in this way. Stir up a cow-hornful completely in half a bucket of water, and then dilute it to a bucketful; but you will then have to stir it again.

On the whole, I think it would be best to stir only half a bucketful at a time. Reckon up, in the given instance, how much less of the stuff you need, even if it should be less than the contents of a cowhorn. It all depends on your bringing about a thoroughly intimate permeation. You are far front achieving a true permeation when you merely tip the stuff into water and stir it up a little. You must bring about a very intimate permeation. If you merely shake in the more or less condensed substance, or if you fall to stir it vigorously, you will not have a thorough mixture. Therefore I think it will be easier to stir several half-bucketfuls with small amounts of substance than to dilute the water again and stir it up a second time.

Question: Some solid matter will remain over, no doubt, even then. May the liquid afterwards be strained so that it can be distributed with a mechanical spray?

Answer: I do not think it will be necessary. For if you stir it quickly, you will obtain a fairly cloudy liquid, and you need not trouble whether any foreign bodies are left in it. You will not find it difficult to distribute the manure; pure cow-manure is best for the purpose, but even if there are foreign bodies in it, I do not think you need go to the trouble of cleansing it. If there are foreign bodies, they might even have a beneficial effect and do no harm. As a result of the concentration and subsequent dilution, it is only the radiant effect that works; it is no longer the substances as such, but the dynamic radiant activity. Thus there would be no danger, for example, of your getting potato plants with long shoots und nothing else upon them at the place where your foreign bodies happened to fall. I do not think there would be any such danger.

Question: I only had in mind the mechanical spray.

Answer: Certainly you can strain the liquid; it will do it no harm. It might be simplest to have your mechanical spray fitted with a sieve from the outset.

Question: You did not say whether the stuff from the horn should be weighed out, so as to get a definite proportion. Speaking of half a bucketful, did you refer to a Swiss bucket, or a precise measure of litres?

Answer: I took a Swiss bucket, the ordinary bucket they use for milking in Switzerland. The whole thing was tested practically, in the direct perception of it. You should now reduce it to the proper weights and measures.

Question: Can the cow-horns be used repeatedly, or must they always be taken from freshly slaughtered beasts?

Answer: We have not tested it, but from my general knowledge I think you should be able to use the cow-horns three or four times running. After that they will no longer work so well. There might even be this possibility: Use the cow-horns for three or four years in succession; then keep them in the cow-stable for a time, and use them again another year. This too might be possible. But I have no idea how many cow-horns an agricultural area can normally have at its disposal; whether or not it is necessary to be very economical in this respect. That is a question I cannot decide at the moment.

Question: Where can you get the cow-horns? Must they be taken from Eastern-European or Mid-European districts?

Answer: It makes no difference where you get them from— only not from the refuse yard. They must be as fresh as possible. However, strange as it may sound, it is a fact that Western life — life in the Western hemisphere — is quite a different thing from life in the Eastern hemisphere. Life in Africa, Asia or Europe has quite another significance than life in America Possibly, therefore, horns from American cattle would have to be more effective in a rather different way. Thus it might prove necessary to tighten the manure rather more in these horns — to make it denser, hammer it more tightly.

It is best to take horns from your own district. There is an exceedingly strong kinship between the forces in the cow-horns of a certain district and the forces generally prevailing in that district. The forces of horns from abroad might come into conflict with what is there in the earth of your own country. You must also remember, it will frequently happen that the cows from which you get the horns in your own district are not really native to the district. But you can get over this difficulty. When the cows have been living and feeding on a particular soil for three or four years, they belong to the soil (unless they happen to be Western cattle).

Question: How old may the horns be? Should they be taken from an old or a young cow?

Answer: All these things must be tested. From the essence of the matter, I should imagine that cattle of medium age would be best.

Question: How big should they be?

Answer: Dr. Steiner draws on the board the actual size of the horn — about 12 to 16 inches long (Diagram 9), i.e. the normal size of horn of “Allgäu” cattle, for example.

Question: Is it not also essential whether the horn is taken from a castrated ox, or from a male or female animal?

Answer: In all probability the horn of the ox would be quite ineffective, and the horn of the bull comparatively weak. Therefore I speak of cow-horns; cows as a rule are female. I mean the female animal.

Question: What is the best time to plant cereals?

Answer: The exact answer will be given when I come to sowing in the main lectures. It is very important, needless to say, and it makes a great difference whether you do it more or less near to the winter months. If near to the winter months, you will bring about a strong reproductive power in your cereals; if farther from the winter months, a strong nutritive power.

Question: Could the cow-horn manure also be distributed with sand? Is rain of any importance in this connection?

Answer: As to the sand you may do so; we have not tested it, but there is nothing to be said against it. The effect of rain would also have to be tested. Presumably it would bring about no change; it might even tend to establish the thing more firmly. On the other hand, we are dealing with a very high concentration of forces, and possibly the minute impact of the falling raindrops might scatter the effect too much. It is a very delicate process; everything must be taken into account. There is nothing to be said against spreading sand with the cow-manure.

Question: In storing the cow-horns and their contents, how should one prevent any harmful influences from gaining access?

Answer: In these matters it is generally true to say that you do more harm by removing the harmful influences, so-called, than by leaving them alone. Nowadays, as you know, people are always wanting to “disinfect” things. Undoubtedly they go too far in this. With our medicaments, for example, we found that if we wished absolutely to prevent the possibility of mould, we had to use methods which interfere with the real virtue of the medicament.

I for my part have no great respect for these “harmful influences.” They do not do nearly so much harm. The best thing is, not to go out of our way in devising methods of purification, but to let well alone.
(We only put pig's bladder over the top to prevent the soil from falling in.)

To try to clean the horns by any special methods is not at all to be recommended. We must familiarise ourselves with the fast that “dirt” is not always dirt. If, for example. you cover your face with a thin layer of gold, it is “dirt” and yet, gold is not dirt. Dirt is not always dirt. Sometimes it is the very thing that acts as a preservative.

Question: Should the extreme “chaoticizing” of the send, of which you spoke, be supported or enhanced by any special methods?

Answer: You could do so, but it would be superfluous. If the seed-forming process occurs at all, the maximum of chaos will come of its own accord. There is no need to support it. It is in manuring that the support is needed. In the seed-forming process, I do not think it will be necessary to enhance the chaos any more. If there is fertilising seed at all, the chaos is complete. You could do it, of course, by making the soil more silicious. It is through silica that the essential cosmic forces work.

Whatever cosmic forces are caught up by the earth, work through the silica. You could do it in this way, but I do not believe it is necessary.

Question: How Large should the experimental plots be? Will it not also be necessary to do something for the cosmic forces that should be preserved until the new plant is formed?

Answer: You might experiment as follows. It is comparatively easy to give general guiding lines; but the most suitable scale on which to work is a thing you must test for yourselves. It will not, however, be difficult to make experiments on this question. Set out your plants in two separate beds, side by side — a bed of wheat, say, and a bed of sainfoin. Then you will find this possibility. In the one plant — wheat — which of its own accord tends easily to lasting seed-formation, you will retard the seed-forming process by the use of silica. Meanwhile, with the sainfoin, you will find the seed-forming process quite suppressed or very much retarded.

To investigate these things, you can always take this as a basis of comparison: Study the properties of cereals — wheat, for example — and then compare them with the analogous properties of sainfoin, or leguminosae generally. You will thus have the most interesting experiments on seed-formation.

Question: Does it matter when the diluted stuff is brought on to the fields?

Answer: Undoubtedly it does. You can generally leave the cow-horns in the earth until you need them. They will not deteriorate, even if after hibernating they are left for a while during the summer. If, however, you do need to keep them elsewhere, having taken them out of the earth, you should make a box, upholster it well with a cushion of peat-moss on all sides, and put the cow-horns inside. Then the strong inner concentration will be preserved. In any case. it is inadvisable to keep the watery fluid after dilution. You must do the stirring not too long before you use the liquid.

Question: If we want to treat the winter corn, must we use the cow-horns a whole quarter after taking them out of the earth?

Answer: It does not matter essentially, but it will always be better to leave them in the earth until you need them. If you are going to use them in the early autumn, leave them in the earth until you need them. It will in no way harm the manure.

Question: With the fine spraying of the liquid due to the spraying machine, will not the etheric and astral forces be wasted?

Answer: Certainly not; they are intensely bound. Altogether, when you are dealing with spiritual things — unless you drive them away yourself from the outset — you need not fear that they will run away from you nearly as much as with material things.

Question: How should one treat the cow-horns with mineral content, after they have spent the summer in the earth?

Answer: It will not hurt to take them out and keep them anywhere you like; you can throw them in a heap anywhere. It will not hurt the stuff, when it has once spent the summer in the earth. Let the sun shine on them; it will not hurt, it will even do them good.

Question: Must the horns be buried at the same place — on the same field which you will afterwards be wanting to manure, or can they he buried all together at any place you choose?

Answer: It makes so little difference that you need not worry about it. In practice, it will he best to look for a place where the soil is comparatively good. I mean, where the earth is not too highly mineral, but contains plenty of humus. Then you can bury all the cow-horns you need in one place.

Question: What about using machines on the farm? Is it not said that machines should not be used at all?

Answer: That cannot really be answered purely as a farming question. Within the social life of to-day, it is hardly a practical, hardly a topical question to ask whether machines are allowable. You can hardly be a farmer nowadays without using machines. Needless to say, not all operations are so nearly akin to the most intimate processes of Nature as the stirring of which we were speaking just now. Just as we did not want to mix up such an intimate process of Nature with purely mechanical elements, so it is with regard to the other things of which you are thinking. Nature herself, in any case, sees to it that where machines are out of place you can do very little with them. A machine will not help in the seed-forming process, for example; Nature does it for herself.

Really I think the question is not very practical. How can you do without machines nowadays? On the other hand, I may remark that as a farmer you need not just be crazy on machines. If one has a particular craze for machines, he will undoubtedly do worse as a farmer, even if his new machine is an improvement, than if he goes an using his old machine until it is worn out. However, in the strict sense of the word these are no longer purely farming questions.

Question: Could the given quantity of cow-horn manure, diluted with water, be used on half the area you indicated?

Answer: Then you would get rampant growths; you would get the result I hinted at just now in another connection. If, for example, you did this in potato-growing or the like, you would get rampant plants with highly ramified stems; what you are really wanting would not develop properly. Apply the stuff in excess and you will get what are generally known as rank patches.

Question; What about a fodder plant, which you want to grow rampant — spinach for instance?

Answer: There, too, I think we shall only use the half-bucketful with the one cow-horn. That is what we did in Dornach with a patch that was mainly vegetable garden. For plants that are grown over larger areas, you will need far less in proportion. It is already the optimum amount.

Question: Does it matter what kind of manure you use — cow- or horse- or sheep-manure?

Answer: Undoubtedly cow-manure is best for this procedure. Still, it might also be well to investigate whether or no horse-manure could be used. lf you want to treat horse-manure in this way, you will probably find that you need to wrap the horn up to some extent in horse-hair taken from the horse's mane. You will thus make effective the forces which in the horse — as it has no horns — are situated in the mane.

Question: Should it be done before or after sowing the seed?

Answer: The proper thing is to do it before. We shall see how it works; this year we began rather late, and some things will be done after sowing. We shall see whether it makes any difference. However, as a normal matter of course, you should do it before sowing, so as to influence the soil itself beforehand.

Question: Can the same cow-horns that have been used for manure be used for the mineral substance too?

Answer: Yes, but here too you cannot use them more than three or four times. After that they lose their forces.

Question: Does it matter who does the work? Can anyone you choose do the work, or should it be an anthroposophist?

Answer: That is the question. If you raise such a question at all nowadays, you will be laughed at, no doubt, by many people. Yet I need only remind you that there are people whose flowers, grown in the window-box, thrive wonderfully, while with others they do not thrive at all but fade and wither. These are simple facts.

These things that take place through human influence, though they cannot be outwardly explained, are inwardly quite clear and transparent. Moreover, such things will come about simply as a result of the human being practising meditation; preparing himself by meditative life, as I described it in yesterday's lecture. For when you meditate you live quite differently with the nitrogen which contains the Imaginations. You thereby put yourself in a position which will enable all these things to be effective; you put yourself in this position over against the whole world of plant-growth.

However, these things are no longer as clear to-day as they used to be in olden times, when they were universally accepted. For there were times when people knew that by certain definite practices they could make themselves fitted to tend the growth of plants. Nowadays, when such things are not observed, the presence of other people disturbs them. These delicate and subtle influences are lost when you are constantly living and moving among men and women who take no notice of such things. Hence, if you try to apply them, it is very easy to prove them fallacious. And I am loth to speak openly as yet about these things in a large company of people. The conditions of life nowadays are such that it is only too easy to refute them.

A very ticklish question was raised, for example, by our friend Stegemann in the discussion in the Hall the other day, namely, whether parasites could be combated by such means — by means of concentration or the like. There can be no question about it that you can, provided you did it in the right way. Notably you would want to choose the proper season — from the middle of January to the middle of February — when the earth unfolds the greatest forces, the forces that are most concentrated in the earth itself. Establish a kind of festival time, and practise certain concentrations during the season, and the effects might well be evident.

As I said, it is a ticklish question, but it can be answered positively along these lines. The only condition is that it must be done in harmony with Nature as a whole. You should be well aware that it makes all the difference whether you do an exercise of concentration in the winter-time or at midsummer. How much is contained in many of the old folk-proverbs! Even the people of to-day might still derive many a valuable hint from these.

I could have mentioned it in yesterday's lecture: Among the many things I should have done in this present incarnation, but did not find it possible to do, was this. When I was a young man I had the idea to write a kind of “peasant's philosophy,” setting down the conceptual life of the peasants in all the things that touch their lives. It might have been very beautiful. The statement of the Count, that peasants are stupid, would have been refuted. A subtle wisdom would have emerged — a philosophy dilating upon the intimacies of Nature's life — a philosophy contained in the very formation of the words. One marvels to see how much the peasant knows of what is going on in Nature.

To-day, however, it would no longer be possible to write a peasant's philosophy. These things have been almost entirely lost. It is no longer as it was fifty or forty years ago. Yet it was wonderfully significant; you could learn far more from the peasants than in the University. That was an altogether different time. You lived with the peasants in the country, and when those people came along with their broad-brimmed hats, introducing the Socialist Movement of to-day, they were only the eccentricities of life. To-day the whole world is changed. The younger ladies and gentlemen here present have no idea how the world has changed in the last thirty or forty years. How much has been lost of the true peasants' philosophy, of the real beauty of the folk-dialects! It was a kind of cultural philosophy.

Even the peasants' calendars contained what they no longer contain to-day. Moreover, they looked quite different — there was something homely about them. I, in my time, knew peasants' calendars printed on very poor paper, it is true; inside, however, the planetary signs were painted in colours, while on the cover, as the first thing to meet the eye, there was a tiny sweet which you might tick whenever you use the book. In this way too it was made tasty; and of course the people used it one after another.

Question: When larger areas are to be manured, must the number of cow-horns be determined purely by feeling?

Answer: No, I should not advise it. In such a case, I think, we really must be sensible. This, therefore, is my advice. Begin by testing it thoroughly according to your feeling. When you have done all you can to get the most favourable results in this way, then set to work and translate your results into figures for the sake of the world as it is to-day. So you will get the proper tables which others can use after you.

If anyone is inclined to do it out of pure feeling, by all means let him do so. But in his attitude to others he should not behave as though he did not value the tables. The whole thing should be translated into calculable figures and amounts for the sake of others; it is necessary nowadays. You need cows' horns to do it with, but you do not exactly need to grow bulls' horns in representing it! These are the things that lead so easily to opposition. I should advise you as far as possible to compromise in this respect, and bear in mind the judgments of the world at large.

Question: Is the quick-lime treatment of the compost-heap, in the percentages as given nowadays, to be recommended?

Answer: The old method will undoubtedly prove beneficial, only you must treat it specifically, according to the nature of your soil — whether it be more sandy or marshy. For a sandy soil you will need rather less quicklime. A marshy ground will need rather more quicklime on account of the formation of oxygen.

Question: How about digging up and turning over the compost heap?

Answer: That is not bad for it. When you have dug it up and turned it, you should, however, provide for its proper protection by putting a layer of earth all around it. Cover it over with earth; peat-earth or granulated peat is very good for the purpose.

Question: What kind of potash did you mean, when you said it might be used if necessary in the transition stage?

Answer: Kali magnesia.

Question: What is the best way of using the rest of the manure after the cow-horns have been filled? Should it be brought on to the fields in autumn, so as to undergo the winter experience? or should it be set aside until the spring?

Answer You must remember that the cow-horn manuring is not intended as a complete Substitute for ordinary manuring. You should go on manuring as before. The new method should be regarded as a kind of extra, largely enhancing the effect of the manuring hitherto applied. The latter should continue as before.

 

 Figure 4
Figure 4
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