The Gibson family farm has been in our family since 1906. It has been a fully functioning farm the whole time. My Grandfather and Great-Grandfather grew mostly canola and durum, and for the past ten years my father has been raising sheep. Our farm is located in the south-west corner of Saskatchewan. I grew up mostly in the city of Saskatoon, spending my summers out at the farm. You could say I have a bit of farm-kid in me. The farm spans for hundreds of acres around the farmhouse, but the garden is just down a path through the yard. This is where the magic happens...
So here we are. First week of May. I simply cannot wait to get my plants in the ground. But before I do that, the garden must be cultivated, and then supplemented with compost. I am ecstatic about this compost!!! Really, it's just the scrapings of the floor of the barn, which is just hay and sheep manure. This mixture is pushed via bobcat to a field just beyond the barn, where it sits in the sun, then the snow, then the sun again, until it decomposes completely.
And this is what makes my blood start pumping. Just thinking about that glorious pile of beautiful compost makes me delirious in anticipation of planting ANYTHING in this treasure trove of soil. Nothing you can buy is this good. They call it “black gold”. It's soft and crumbly to the touch, with just a hint of moisture... and then there's the smell!! It smells like spring itself. Earthy and woody.
Alright, alright. I'm rambling, I know. It's just that they don't make soil like they used to. Most gardens and fields are sprayed so heavily with pesticides and herbicides and chemical fertilizer that, on a microscopic level anyways, it's not really even soil anymore. It's just a pile of dirt.
And in my humble opinion, there is a significant difference between soil and dirt.
Soil is rich with organic material and beneficial bacteria that break down this organic material into compounds that plants need to to be healthy.
Dirt is just dirt. Dirt is dusty and lifeless. And although plants can survive in this kind of environment (nature always finds a way to survive) they don’t thrive. They long for nutrients such as nitrogen and carbon, and the perfect pH balance and soil structure to retain moisture. I feel bad for these plants. They’re like the poor kids in class that can’t afford nice clothes and fruitsnacks. I just want to give them a pick-me-up, and there's nothing like a good old dose of sheep shit to perk ‘em up.
                                    Perhaps i’ve given this too much thought...

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