13th June, 1924.
you speak of the bladder of the stag, are you referring to the male
Question: Do you
mean the annual or the perennial nettle?
Question: Is it
right to roof in the manure-pit in districts where there is much rain?
Answer: The manure
ought to be able to stand any ordinary amount of rain. It is not good
for it to get no rain-water at all. On the other hand, it should not
be thoroughly washed out with rain; that, of course, would harm it.
You cannot decide by hard-and-fast rules. Generally speaking, rain-water
is good for manure.
not the place where the manure is stored be walled-in and covered over
to prevent the loss of the manure-juice?
Answer: In a certain
sense, the manure needs rain-water. The only thing is, it might
sometimes be well to keep the rain off a little by spreading granulated
peat over the top. There is no purpose in keeping the rain away altogether
by roofing it in. That would undoubtedly deteriorate the manure.
plant-growth is stimulated to such an extent by the manuring methods
you have indicated, are cultivated plants and so-called weeds equally
stimulated? Must any special methods be adopted to destroy the weeds?
Answer: In the
first place the question is justified, needless to say, and I shall
speak of the combatting of weeds in the next few days. What I have given
you so far is favourable to plant-growth in general; you would not thereby
put an end to the growth of weeds. On the other hand, it will make the
plants far more secure against any parasitic pests that might occur.
Here you have already the remedy against such parasitic pests as may
occur in the plant kingdom. The combatting of weeds, on the other hand,
does not arise out of the principles which we have hitherto discussed.
The weed naturally shares in the general plant-growth. We shall yet
have to speak on this subject. The whole thing is so intimately connected
that it would not be well to pick out any special aspect now.
do you hold of the method of Captain Krantz? By piling it up in loose
layers, and taking advantage of the spontaneous generation of warmth,
the manure is also made odourless.
Answer: I have
purposely refrained from speaking of what is already being done on rational
lines. I wanted to give the inspirations which can come from Spiritual
Science for the improvement of every such method. The one you refer
to has many advantages, no doubt, but I believe it is comparatively
new; it is not a very old method. And it may be this is also one of
the methods which appear a dazzling success to begin with, but do not
prove quite so practical in course of time. When the soil has its tradition,
so to speak, everything will in a way refresh it; but when you apply
the same method for a longer time, it is often as it is in medicine.
When a medicament comes into the body for the first time, why, the most
unbelievable medicaments are helpful the first time you take them! But
then the curative effect is at an end. Here too it always takes some
time before you recognise that it is not as you were first led to believe.
The one thing of importance
is the spontaneous generation of warmth. The activity that must come
into play for the generation of this warmth is exceedingly good for
the manure; of that there can be no doubt. This activity cannot but
lead to good results. Possible disadvantages might arise from the manure
being piled up loosely; nor do I know if it is quite literally true,
as you suggest, that it becomes quite odourless. If you do
really get it odourless, it would indicate that the method is really
good and beneficial. I believe it has not been tried for many years.
Question: Is it
not better to pile up the manure above the earth than to sink
it in a pit below the level of the ground?
Answer: In principle
it is generally right to put it as high as possible. You should not,
however, put it too high; you must still keep it in proper relation
to the forces that are there beneath the earth. You cannot actually
put it on a hillock, but you can build it up from the normal level of
the ground; that will give you the most favourable height.
the same compost methods be applied to the vine which has suffered so
much in recent times?
Answer: Yes, but
with modifications. I shall mention some modifications when I come to
speak of fruit- and vine-growing. Generally speaking, what I have given
to-day applies to the improvement of every kind of manure. I have indicated
what will improve manure in general. The specific modifications of these
methods for meadow- and pasture-land, cereal crops, orchards and vineyards
still remain to be dealt with.
Question: Is it
right to have the manure-ground paved or plastered?
Answer: From all
that one can know of the whole structure of the earth and its relation
to the manure, it would be utterly wrong. I cannot see why it should
be paved. If your manure-ground is paved or plastered, you should hollow
out a space all around so as to leave room for the interplay of the
manure with the earth. Why deteriorate the manure by separating it from
the ground beneath it any influence — whether, for instance, it
he sandy or clayey? Sometimes the ground layer of the place where the
manure is to be kept is covered with clay so as to make it impervious.
the different kinds of earth will have their influence, according to
their specific properties as kinds of earth. If there is sandy ground
where you want to store the manure, it will be necessary to fill it
in with a little clay. For the sand is pervious and will suck in the
water. If, on the other hand, you have a very clayey soil, you should
loosen it a little, and sprinkle in some sand. For a medium effect,
always take a layer of sand and a layer of clay. Then you have both
— the inner consistency of the earth kingdom and also the watery
influences. Otherwise the water will trickle away. A mixture of the
two kinds of earth will be the best. For the same reason you should
not choose a ground of “Loess” to pile up your manure-heap
— not if you can avoid it. “Loess,” or the like, will
not be very helpful. In such a case it will be better to create in course
of time an artificial ground for your manure-heap.
Question: As to
the cultivation of the plants you mentioned yarrow, camomile, the stinging
nettle — could they be introduced into a district by scattering
the seed, if they did not happen to be growing there already? In cattle-farming
we have generally assumed that yarrow and dandelion too are dangerous
for cattle. We therefore wanted to exterminate these plants as far as
possible — likewise the thistle. Indeed we are now engaged in
doing so. I presume we should now have to sow them again along the edges
of the fields, but not in the meadows and pastures?
Question by Dr.
Steiner: But how should they be harmful as animal food?
Yarrow is said to contain poisonous substances. Dandelion is said to
be not good for cattle.
Dr. Steiner: You
should watch it carefully. On the open field, an animal will not eat
it if it is really harmful.
We in our district do the very opposite. We treat the dandelion as good
fodder for milk cattle.
Dr. Steiner: These
are sometimes mere prevalent opinions; nobody knows if they have ever
been tested. It is possible, no doubt, that in the hay ... —
it would have to be tested — I think, if it were harmful, an animal
would leave the hay untouched. An animal will not eat what is not good
not yarrow largely been removed by the large doses of lime? Yarrow surely
needs a moist and acid soil?
Answer: If you
use wild yarrow, a very small quantity will suffice, even for a large
estate. It has a peculiar, homoeopathic effect. If you had some yarrow
in the garden here, it would be enough for the whole estate.
Question: I for
my part have observed that the young dandelion, shortly before flowering,
is very gladly eaten by all cattle. Afterwards, however, when it has
begun to blossom, the cattle will no longer take it.
Answer: You must
always remember the following: this, at least, is the general rule.
An animal will not eat dandelion if it is harmful. An animal's feeding
instinct is excellent.
You must also bear this
in mind. We too, when we wish to stimulate something that depends on
a living process, will almost always use what we should not use by itself.
For instance, no one would eat yeast as his daily food; yet it is used
in baking bread. A thing that even can act as a poison when consumed
in large doses will, under other conditions, have the most beneficial
effects. After all, medicines are generally poisonous.
The process —
not the substance — is important. Thus I believe you can well
get over your misgivings about the dandelions doing harm to your animals.
So many strange ideas are prevalent. It is curious: here, on the one
hand, the harmfulness of the dandelion is emphasised by Count Keyserlingk,
while on the other hand, Count Lerchenfeld describes it as the best
of milch-fodder. The effects cannot possibly be so different in two
such neighbouring countries; one or another of the two opinions must
it is a question of the underlying basis? My statement was founded on
veterinary opinions. Ought we then purposely to plant yarrow and dandelion
on our pasture and meadowland?
a small surface will suffice.
it depend on how long the preparations are kept with the manure, after
taking them out of the earth?
Answer: Once they
are mixed with the manure it is meaningless to ask how long they should
be kept in it. But it should all have been done before the manure is
spread over the fields.
the manure-preparations be put into the earth all together, or each
Answer: That is
of some importance. While the interaction is going on, the one preparation
should not be allowed to disturb the other. Therefore it is well to
dig them in some distance apart. If I had to do it on a small estate,
I should dig them in as far as possibly from one another, so as to prevent
their interfering with each other. I should look for the most distant
parts around the edge of the estate. On a large estate you can choose
the distances as you will.
it matter if the earth above the preparations is overgrown, once they
Answer: The earth
can do as it likes. It is quite good if it is grown over. It may even
be overgrown with cultivated plants.
should the preparations be dealt with in the manure-heap?
Answer: I should
advise the following procedure. Prick a hole about a foot deep, or a
little deeper, in a large pile of manure, so that the manure can (lose
up again around the stuff. You need not make it as deep as a metre,
but the manure ought to be able to (lose up again round the preparations.
For it is like this (Diagram 10): If this is
the pile of manure, and you have here a little of the preparation
... it all depends on the radiations. The rays go out like this; it
is not well if the stuff is too near the surface. The radiation is thrown
back from the surface; it returns in a definite curve. It does not go
outside, provided the manure closes up around the substance. Half a
metre (about 18 inches) will suffice. If it is too near the surface,
a considerable portion of the rays of force will be lost.
Question: Is it
enough if you only make a very few holes, or should the preparations
be distributed as widely as possible?
Answer: It is
better to distribute them — not to make all the holes in one place.
Otherwise the radiations may interfere with each other.
all the preparations be put into the manure at the same time?
Answer: When you
are putting the preparations in the manure heap, you can put in the
one beside the other. They do not influence each other; they only influence
the manure as such.
the preparations all be put into one hole?
even if all the preparations were put into one hole, one might presume
that they would not disturb each other; but I should not like to make
this statement a priori. You can put them in fairly close together,
but they might alter all interfere with each other, if you mixed them
all up in a single hole.
kind of oak did you mean?
the bark be taken from a living tree, or will a felled tree do?
Answer: As far
as possible from a living tree; nay, more, from a tree in which you
may presume that the “oak resin” is still pretty active.
Question: Is it
the whole of the bark?
Answer: No, only
the surface — the outermost layer of bark which crumbles off of
its own accord when you loosen it.
Question: In burying
the manure preparations, is it absolutely necessary to go no deeper
than the fertile layer? Or could one bury the cow-horns even deeper?
Answer: It is
better to leave them in the fertile layer. Indeed it may be presumed
that in the subsoil underneath the fertile layer they would no longer
provide fruitful material. You should, however, consider that the best
possible condition would be provided by a layer of fertile soil as deep
as you can find. Look for a place where the fertile layer is deepest
— that will undoubtedly be the best. Beneath the fertile layer
you will get no beneficial effect.
the fertile layer they will always be exposed to the frost. Will that
do no harm?
Answer: If exposed
to the frost, they come into the very time when the earth, by virtue
of the frost, is most intensely exposed to cosmic influences.
should you grind down the quartz or the silica? In a small grinding-mill,
or in a mortar?
Answer: In this
case the best thing will be to do it first in a mortar; and you will
need an iron pestle. Grind it down in the mortar to a fine, mealy consistency.
If it is quartz, having ground it down as far as possible in this way,
you will even need to continue grinding it afterwards on a glass surface.
It must be a very fine meal, and that is not easy to attain with quartz.
experience shows that a well-nourished head of cattle puts on substance
which was lacking. There must therefore be a relation between the actual
feeding and the absorption of nutritive substance from the atmosphere?
Answer: You need
only observe what I said. In the absorption of food, the forces developed
by the body are the essential thing. Thus it depends on the receiving
of proper food, whether or no the animal develops sufficient forces
to be able to receive and assimilate the substances from the atmosphere.
You may compare it with
this: If you have a very close-fitting glove to put on, you cannot do
it by sheer force. You wedge the glove out with a wooden instrument;
you thus extend and stretch it. So too in this case; the forces have
to be made pliant and supple. Such forces must first be there, for the
creature to receive from the atmosphere what it does not get from the
actual food. The food is there to stretch the organism, so to speak,
thus enabling it to receive all the more from the atmosphere. This may
even lead to hypertrophy if too much is taken, and you would pay for
it by the shorter duration of the creature's life. There is a happy
mean here, too, between the maximum and minimum.
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