Drought -Pastures 2016

Well, the 2012 drought did a number on the pastures an I struggled to seed and frost seed it back into a reasonable working pasture, I used dry lots to create a better pasture for rotation and it all helped..

But the pasture was unbalanced, I had too much clover and I worried about it, both for the sheep (bloat issues) and the horses as well..

I seeded out with whole oats, barley and other quick-growing grains to put a push on the area and to have them come up over the clover and to make sure that the grazers were getting a better mix in their bites..  It worked for a temp measure.

This year, the pasture came up and I had three things that were clearly pushing forward.. White Clover, a local grass and more thistle then I am used to seeing..

and then came the drought and the wow.. do we have a drought..  it’s the worst in our area since the mid 1800’s.. we are losing plants, tree’s, creeks are running dry and my pasture is dead.. I mean in a one square foot, 80 plus percent are dead and what is left is clover.. lots and lots of clover..

We had to go to full-time hay feeding again at the start of Aug this year and this drought will affect our pastures and our feeding for the pasture critters for the next two years at a min.

I am going to have to bite the bullet and change some things up, part of it will be turned over to grow fodder beets and turnips and carrots..

the rest will be lightly turned, cleaned, fertilized with homemade compost and it will need to be heavily re-seeded out into a properly done seed mix at a couple hundred per year for two years to get the balance back into the pasture..

Its going to be costly, in terms of money and time..  I need to build a bigger outside paddock for dry lot, as I will need to use it a lot, other than when pressure grazing with electic fencing, then I will need to pay for more straw as bedding, more hay to feed out, more gear, I will need to set up a new roof water collection system to help keep it full and haul in the rest.. I figure I will buy at least two thousand gallon collection ones that can then be used to feed the tank to help reduce the water load.

then there is the cost of time in cleaning that pen, it has to be done and regular all season long, plus at least for the horses, they will need bigger turnout or walks or rides to keep them mentally healthy.

Then I will also have the cost of doing the pasture itself, however the one good bonus is that we can do any required repair work on the pastures and the fences and have the pond worked on.. as well as bring in a load or two of gravel for the paths, normally the idea of getting my pasture cut up is enough to make me cry but if we have to turn the soil anyway, we can get the rest of the things done while it will not hurt anything in the end and we can get things ready for the next ten plus years.

My main hay supplier is doing the same thing this year, over half of his hay pastures have died to the point that he is turning them under and re-seeding them out.. that had the possibility of effecting my hay quality for the next two years, one because the drought hit pastures that are left, will have a loss of what they should have, as some plants are more easily killed. and the new pastures will also be lacking, as it takes one and up to two years to get them up into proper production..

It means more tracking and studying to make sure that I have the correct extra’s in place to keep the health of the different critters on the farm.. Farming in so many ways is about science and gut feelings all rolled up into having the eye and the grit to go with it!



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3 Responses to Drought -Pastures 2016

  1. Nicola says:

    It’s all so much more complicated than I could ever have imagined. As time goes by, I can’t imagine I will ever have large, grazing animals, even when we do have space. It’s another example of how, when you know nothing, you just blindly wander into things. However,once you know a little bit and become aware of how much you don’t know, you are less likely to start!

    • Hi Nicola, There are lots of folks that just let it do what it will do, that never touched a pasture for 20 plus year, that will never feed a supplement, that will never worm, that will buy whatever they can find for hay.. and somehow they all will get buy.. My place never looks perfect, its just not me.. but when it comes to my critters, I really want what is the best for them.

  2. Great to hear you’re taking lemons and making lemonade out of this record-breaking bad year!
    So you’ve set me to wondering… And I’m not talking pasture per se – our property was pasture many years ago – but I know how well all the “weeds” have done here this year, in SPITE of the incredible dearth of precipitation starting with last winter… And a LOT of what’s done well are native plants. Is it possible that there are some native prairie plants & grasses that you can use in your replanting?

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