How to: WCAP KNF

Korean Natural Farming (KNF) is a trade with many acronyms. LAB, FPJ, WCA, WCAP, IMO… it goes on. Most of them are based in some kind of fermentation process, with the basic principle of using ingredients local and available to transform regular materials into plant and soil foods. It suits me perfectly, and so far I just love it. Something about the funkiness and liveliness of a fermentation has always appealed to me, and I’ve found great joy in the process of experimentation thus far.

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Take, for example, FPJ (Fermented Plant Juice). You walk around your area in the early morning, collecting leaves from vigorous local plants (so far I’ve used burdock, probably the most abundant and vigorous “weed” on our property). You collect the leaves, weigh them, chop them, and mix them thoroughly with equal parts brown sugar. You weigh them down in a container (ideally so they fill about 2/3), wait for 5-7 days, then strain. You’re left with a shelf-stable solution that can be used in a spray diluted 500:1 with water. The life force of the plant is transformed into readily available plant sustenance, and combined with trace amounts of vinegar to act as a pH buffer.

LAB (lactic acid bacteria) uses fermented rice wash water 1:10 with milk, for a 3-5 day fermentation which leaves liquid bacteria and cheese curd, which can then be strained and used to make a tasty cheese spread. The liquid can be used as a foliar spray at 1:1000 to fend off blight and powdery mildew. Apparently, anyway; I’ll be running some trials to test the efficacy.

All of this can be found on YouTube, mainly under Chris Trump’s page. He runs a Macadamia Nut farm in Hawaii, and has studied personally under the tutelage of Master Cho, the practice’s primary founder. He keeps it pretty fast, loose and understandable, and adds a bit of dry humor to boot. My eventual goal is to get to the level of IMO (Indigenous Micro-Organism) propagation and inoculation, but that may be a year off. It requires the actual collection of micro-organisms on slightly undercooked rice, from local forests, then an extensive propagation process. I think I’ll stick with simpler concoctions for this year.

My latest thing was WCAP (Water Soluble Calcium-Phosphate). This is good for plants at early growth stages, and the switchover into flowering. After a simple WCAP KNF search led me back to Chris, I found inspiration, and got started. First, I took some pork neck bones out of the freezer, thawed, and made broth. I then pulled the fatty meat to add to farm lunch for tomorrow. Next, last night, I meticulously picked as much of the cartilage and flesh from the bones as possible. It was a bit intensive, but definitely worth it, as I was really excited about a good old-fashioned bone char in the morning.

That came earlier than expected. Around 5:30, I heard some thumps, bumps, squacks and the dinosaur footsteps of the animated toddler upstairs. I went up and saved her mother from the early wakeup time, brought Ella down, and went almost directly outside to fire the grill. Even EllaBella — notorious morning partier that she is — was a bit taken aback by the excitement and her good early morning fortune, as I gathered sticks and paper to get a fire roaring. About an hour later, the bones were in a cast-iron pan over some nice hot charcoals. About a half hour after that, the old familiar smell hit my nostrils…

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Back at Dick’s farm, once or twice a year, Dick would let my friend Randy and I know that it was time to burn horns. Jerry Schultz, the neighbor from right up the road, who was some kind of horn-burning expert, I guess, would come by in his little S-10; we’d plug in the horn burner, and wrangle some calves. Randy and I would rope them and get them tightly tied into the stanchions, Jerry would work his magic, and the bones and flesh would char. It’s a smell you don’t forget. Through the process, Jerry himself would smoke more than anything we were actually burning, rasping out some one-liners in his gravelly old smoker voice. The cattle would wriggle and buck; we would hold them down the best we could, and Jerry would carry on slowly through the open side of his mouth; letting some tastefully-placed f-bombs fill the open space between smoke and smell. I remember one time in the pen, when Randy wrapped his humongous forearm around a wild adolescent heifer’s neck, and wrestled her right down to her knees and into submission… The memories are burned into my consciousness as deeply as the char of the bones.

As it reached my nostrils once more, I reminisced on all this, and thanked my sensible self for not running the test-trial in the house, as I’d been tempted to do. Fanni is pretty open-minded with the assortments of smelly buckets, jars and crocks lining the dining room, but acrid bone-char home permeation would push even the most tolerant soul over the edge. So, as it were, this morning found me and Schoobins outside partying around the grill.

I tended this fire for 3 hours or so, toasting each of my bones to absolute perfection, per the recommendation of Chris Trump. When I added the brown rice vinegar at 10:1, however, my solution just didn’t bubble like Chris’s did. All day I come back to the funky jar of bone and vinegar, peering hopefully and anxiously. Any bubbles? Not yet. Fanni keeps telling me, “Be patient; it will come alive.” She’s probably right. But if not, I’ll just char some more bones. WCAP a dream may be, but its reality I’m yet to see. I just can’t get over the possibility of eating meat off of the bones of our pigs, turning bone matter to broth and bone to plant food. So, we’ll get it. It’s a good reason to spend some time around the grill, anyway. Plus, a good bone-char never hurt anybody. Right..?

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