Ferments and peppering are biodynamic techniques that are used to find solutions to issues that invariably arise in the farm environment. We have already taken a look at how ferment can help to solve the case of a problem weed. However, there are also times when we need to have a nature-friendly way of dealing with a ‘problem animal’, and this is where peppering comes into the picture.
What is very important to bear in mind is that to foster a healthy, balanced farm environment, you do need to primarily have a tolerant and benevolent attitude towards the naturally occurring plants and animals on your land – you actually only want to intervene in the system if you really have to. The presence of a particular animal on your land is not a problem in itself. But from time to time, it is possible that certain creatures may arrive, or boom in population or shift in behaviour and start to cause crop damage, which if left unchecked will result in significant loss.
An example of this would be a small animal like a vole which can damage the root systems of your vines. One can tolerate a few voles in a vineyard if the damage they may cause is negligible, but a spike in population can be devastating. The most common conventional response to a ‘problem animal’ would be the use of poison. In biodynamic farming there is no question of introducing toxins into your farm environment. Besides which, the use of poison is indiscriminate and you are always at risk of killing animals other than the species you are targeting. You want an effective solution that is as accurate as possible and that causes the least loss of life, and of balance, in your farm ecosystem. Our first solution to this would be to create perches for our natural predators like owls and buzzards which can keep the population in check. Only after this we would turn to peppering.
Like ferments, peppering is not a silver bullet, but it is a benign technique that, over time, brings the results that you want. Peppering enables you to intervene in the rhythms and energies of the farm to make the environment less conducive to a species of animal, such as a type of rodent or bird that has become an issue.
How do we make a pepper for the control of small animals?
There are two critical requirements for making a pepper:
Firstly, it must be both made and used during a specific constellation –Venus must be in Scorpio on the far side of the Sun (superior conjunction).
Secondly, a small animal pepper utilises the ash from the skin of the species you are targeting. Whether it is a starling or a mousebird, a rat or a mouse, you will need to catch, kill and skin a representative of the species. The skin, along with fur or feathers, is used because it is the sensory membrane of the animal.
To make the pepper:
- Make a wood fire.
- Place an old pot or pan, or a sheet of corrugated iron over the fire.
- Burn the skin to ash, and then let it cool down.
- Grind the ashes into powder.
How do we apply a small animal pepper?
There are two common ways to apply it:
Firstly, you can mix the pepper into some sand, and sprinkle it in the area where the animal is creating a problem, and also around the boundaries of the area.
Secondly, you can potentize the pepper. Potentizing uses the homeopathic decimal scale for dilution, and D8 is the optimal dilution for a pepper. You potentize to D7 if you want to store the pepper. This works as follows:
D1 is 10gm ash mixed with 90ml distilled water
D2 is 10ml D1 mixed and shaken up with 90ml distilled water
D3 is 10ml D2 mixed and shaken up with 90ml distilled water
D4 is 10ml D3 mixed and shaken up with 90ml distilled water
D5 is 10ml D4 mixed and shaken up with 90ml distilled water
D6 is 10ml D5 mixed and shaken up with 90ml distilled water
D7 is 10ml D6 mixed and shaken up with 90ml distilled water (Stop here if you want to store the pepper which should be stabilized by adding ethyl alcohol)
D8 is 10ml D7 mixed and shaken up with 90ml distilled water
The pepper is now just like a homeopathic tincture, and it can be sprayed in the affected field or vineyard.
The pepper can also be applied through a field broadcaster.
Over time, the pepper works to discourage the target animals from being in the treated environment. They become aware that it is not hospitable to them, and disperse elsewhere. It should be mentioned that if you have a large infestation you should apply the pepper to a good buffer area around the vineyard blocks as the pest will enter through the boundaries.
In conclusion, a small animal pepper is a technique that should be used after careful consideration because your overriding goal is for your farm to be a balanced ecosystem. Discouraging a certain species from being on your land will have consequences beyond the desired protection of your crops. You need to understand the role of your target animal in the environment and be very sure that it is creating a problem that is intolerable. You need to consider what will ‘fill the gap’ once you have made that particular species too uncomfortable in your ecosystem.