Updated: Sep 11
During the last week of September the Lower Barn was decorated with tea urns, hay bales and a projector in anticipation of the annual prep week. This event takes place over 3 afternoons inviting members of our local community to come to the farm and participate in creating the biodynamic preparations that will be used on the farm the following year.
Tablehurst Farm's biodynamic prep expert, Bryony Young gave a talk on each afternoon to introduce the concept of the preparations and why they are relevant and needed to create healthy soil and a balanced ecosystem on our agricultural land. It was fascinating to understand how these preparations which were gifted by Rudolph Steiner in 1924 in his Agricultural lectures are still used today and are demonstrating improvements in soil structure and quality that modern science is only just beginning to understand.
The first afternoon focused on BD 500 which is also called 'Horn manure'. This preparation lives up to it's name in the true sense of the word as the group were encouraged to participate in the practical aspect of the afternoon by getting stuck in to a trug of cow manure. The process involved filling a cow horn very compactly with cow manure by tapping it onto a firm surface. The filled cow horns were gathered and taken to a purpose dug pit on the farm to be buried for a season until Spring.
The second afternoon introduced our group to BD503 , known as 'Chamomile', and to the concept of 'goo'. This preparation is created by using the small intestine of a cow and dried chamomile flowers to make something that resembles a 'chamomile sausage'. The delicate process of hand stuffing the 'sausage' with chamomile released the scent of flowers into the barn space creating a heady mix of hay and drowsiness. The group remained in good spirits with their unusual task and produced many oddly shaped specimens to be able to be buried in the ground at a different location on the farm to the horn manure prep the day before.
On the final afternoon the group were introduced to BD 505 referred to as 'Oak Bark' and BD 507 known as 'Dandelion'. These two preparations are created using an animal component alongside the mentioned plant component.
The Oak bark is collected by gently shaving the outer layer of the oak tree to collect the material required for the prep. This Oak is used due to its inherent qualities of strength, longevity and ability to 'record' the processes of its surrounding environment. The shavings are tightly packed into the brain cavity of pig representing the capacity for ordered structure and intelligence. It is a reminder to me that human and animal bodies are perfectly designed for their functions and have inherent qualities in their structure.
The pig skulls are submerged in water until the spring, where they gather the forces within the water. When they are ready to reemerge, they will be pulled out and the Oak bark recovered after the coldness and crystallising qualities of the winter months.
BD 507 known as 'Dandelion' kept the second half of our group busy with the stuffing of mesentery pouches with flowers. Hands were stained yellow from the dye of the dried dandelions which had been collected during the spring months this year. The dandelions are collected at a specific point in their lifecycle, so that the flower will not turn into a dandelion seed clock whilst it is dried and stored, waiting for use in the autumn prep preparation. Mesentery from a cow is used for the stuffed pouches and precisely stitched up using twine to prevent any of the flowers escaping. The 'pouches' are then buried in the ground at their own location on the farm, as in the fashion of BD 500 and BD 503.
All the afternoons were completed with the hospitality of hot drinks and home made cake for the members of the group to thank them for their hard work and participation.
All the preps will rest in the land for the winter and then be excavated in the spring. Each prep will be gently reclaimed and stored safely until it is utilised on the farm in the coming year.
Tablehurst Farm says thank you to everyone who came and enjoyed this experience with us. Prep week is an annual event and you are welcome to come and join us next year.