I think that when most folks dream of their perfect land, that pasture on your farm is lush, green and so healthy, just bursting with plants that are going to fatten and give just the right mix to provide good health to your choosen four footer farm critters..
Don’t know how to say it in a nice way.. but at some point you are going to wake up and realize that life is not like that.. unless you are somehow lucky enough to be living on a family farm that has looked after the land for the past hundred years or so in a healthy way, I assure you, that your dreams of rich black soil, filled with the correct mix of pasture plants for your critters is like hoping to find that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
However having said that, there are many ways to improve pasture, and if you have been reading my blog at all, you know that I am not likely to turn the land, dump a crap load of man made chemicals on it and hope to get it to produce like mad for a few years and then repeat.
So lets back up a step, my small pasture is an acre and half in size, 1 Acre was plowed and hay seeded for cows seven years ago, 1/4 acre was marginal land that was mostly common plants and 1/4 is common what is called a sacrifice area by the barn front.
We had used that area for hand cut hay for a couple years but the qaulity of the pasture quickly went downhill(hmm, could that be because we were not putting those chemicals on), add in that it had been seeded for cows and we mainly have sheep and goats and we knew we had to do something, it took a whole summer of part time extra work to hand fence the pasture, and then we turned the flock out to clean it up, that spring, we frost seeded it, and let it have a rest and grow period between grazings.. it made a world of difference. We went out last summer and monthly hand cut anything down we didn’t want growing in the pasture.
Last fall, I put the flock out and let them eat it down to nubs, the main reason being, I want to give my frost seeds a good starting point and by stressing the plants I don’t want, it will slow them down. So we have had a pasture seed order that has been done to our personal farm needs.
Now we use the deep bedding practice on our farm for winter with our animals which means we have lots of half composted manure with a good carbo mix to use up.. While its still far to cold and snow covered to do any real garden work, its not to soon to start spring barn work..
All Man or Women power on this farm, here is DH taking one of the 25 wheel barrol loads we have done over the past two days from the barn into the pasture.. each load is approx 5 cubic feet of loose half composted poo/bedding.
Here is a dumped load, we are spacing them about ten feet apart or so.
Look at how light and loose that is, and do you know who we can thank for that.. that’s right folks, hats off to Miss Piggy our sweet, please give me a scratch piggy plow is the reason that this bedding is so wonderfully loose. GOOD PIGGY!
Now it my job, I take my rake and spread that pile out over the area,, you want between 1/4 to 1/2 a inch added on top.. It looks the next loads will be dropped beside and you can fill in any area’s as you work your next pile, Repeat, Repeat an again..
Now I had a few area’s that didn’t have snow, and so I took a before an after shot of a basic coverage, you don’t want it to be to thick, you just want a top dressing.
So here is that very! closely cropped down old pasture land, with a very nice coating of sheep poo.. Now lets give it that top dressing..
The plants will easily push thought this, and it will continue to break down and do a slow feed for the whole growing season. The biggest perk is that because I know what my critters are eating, and I because I know what if anything has been given to them in terms of meds etc, I also know that this compost has no nasty leftovers from large farm factory practices.
Slowly and steady we will end up with a clean barn and enough to lightly top dress out the whole pasture. So how are you spending your weekend?? Do you use the deep bedding practice? Do you ever top dress your pasture? Are you lucky enough to just be able to load up a manure spreader and have it all done in half a day? At least its a team effort and its a good workout.
Ps, sorry for the first round of this post, I thought I had hit Draft but it had published instead, so you got to see just how rough my first drafts often are..