Friday, July 5, 2013

The pastures

Burdock almost 6 feet tall.

I am not exactly sure how many acres we have for pasture but whatever it is, right now it is too much. Trying to manage and make better land that probably has not been managed in a long, long time is a difficult task. The main goal, besides feeding everyone, is to catch the weeds before they seed. Letting an undesirable plant go to seed is just planting for the future.

The left side was grazed the day before.

We talked about frost seeding this spring, but never got around to it. Which turns out was probably a good thing. The weeds here are so thick, the seeds would have had a real struggle. Good thing we have plenty of goats that like to eat weeds. Although not thistle so Chuck has to go out and cut those down and some are as thick as trees.

A little tree trimming

We decided not to put in any permanent fencing this year, instead we are using six-hundred feet of moveable netting (4 hundred footers and 4 fifty). This will give us a feel for the land, and how we want to move the animals. Then when we know the layout we will put in some permanent border fencing.

Last year we did not use the pastures. We let the cow go where she pleased from morning until evening. We knew she would always come back since her calf was in the barn. The goats we fed hay and took for walks. Fencing is expensive whether it is permanent or movable so we did what we could. Even now we could use some more movable fencing but with an investment of $1000 already we will have to make due with what we have.

This picture was taken June 3rd 2012
Same area picture taken after grazing July 3rd 2013

We are now just starting to run the animals through an area that they already grazed back in May.  It's a good idea to let the pasture rest and regrow. Of course re-grazing depends on the weather, the type of grass, where the pasture is located (south facing slope, etc.), and probably a million other things but the rule most grazers say is let the pasture rest 3 weeks. The area below was grazed a month and a half ago, so well over the 3 weeks. This pasture is south facing but has mostly cool weather grasses. After grazing the first time the grasses came back pretty fast but with the warmer weather they have really slowed down. We probably wont be grazing this area again, or if we do it will be late in the season and quick.

Taken right after letting the animals in.
Taken the next day.
A month or so ago I had a conversation with someone new to grazing. I love telling people that we move the animals daily. They get this sort of confused look on their face. For most people they think grazing means just putting a big o' fence up and letting the animals go where they please free-range style. Yes this is one way but I am not really sure who or what it benefits. In this way of grazing the animals will only eat what they want (not beneficial to the pasture) the manure is spread so far and wide not concentrated for better fertilization. Another of the benefits of mob stocking is the stomping of the hooves, this pushes green (or brown) carbon into the soil. One of the blogs I love to follow is Throwback at Trappers Creek, she writes a lot about mob stocking.

It will be interesting to see what the pastures look like next year, and the years down the road.

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