Planting Trees in the Pastures

This weeks update is about our pasture revitalization project of tree planting.  Last fall I took a permaculture course and the information I learned there confirmed my earlier desire to plant some small groves of trees in the pastures.  There are a variety of reasons to plant native trees in our pastures, some of them being seasonal shade and wind blocks for the livestock and shade for the clay soil we have.  We live in a mild, non-brittle climate so our animals are not accustomed to temperatures much over 72*, which is our average high temperature in July and August.  During the peak of the summer months the daytime temperatures can get as high as the upper 90’s, and in the direct sunshine,that sure is hot!  Personally, I love the heat.  But I’m alone in this infatuation with high temperatures.  My husband, my soils, and the animals are much less excited than I am.  It is hard on the animals as they get stressed and lose weight, and it is hard on the soil as it heats up and begins to go dormant and all soil life moves down to cooler temperatures.

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  • adj.     Emphasizing the importance of the whole and the interdependence of its parts.
  • adj.     Concerned with wholes rather than analysis or separation into parts: holistic medicine; holistic ecology.

For a little while “holistic” was a $20 word, a fancy word and concept that people liked to use so they sound well-educated.  Today it is both a word and a concept that average people are fairly familiar with.  We find holistic modalities in every area of life today as we begin to better understand that nothing is independent from everything else.  From what modern science is learning, and what observers have noted for millennia, is that all of creation operates as a whole unit of systems composed of multiple smaller whole units and that there are reliable patterns to the way things go when they hum along to produce desirable outcomes.

I appreciated these quotes from the book Holistic Management: A Common Sense Revolution To Restore Our Environment:  “… the world is composed of patterns – of matter, energy, and life – that function as wholes whose qualities cannot be predicted by studying any aspect in isolation. We would know very little about water, for instance, by making an exhaustive study of hydrogen or oxygen, even though every molecule of water is composed of both. … We now realize that no whole, be it a family, a business, a community, or a nation, can be managed without looking inward to the lesser wholes that combine to form it, and outward to the greater wholes of which it is a member.”  Continue reading

Tikkun Olam, The Redemption & The Garden

There is a teaching that says that when the redemption comes all will be restored to the state things were in when Adam and Eve were in the garden.  This teaching has deeply affected me and how I view things.  I wanted to try to share a bit of that here, as it helps to explain the perspective this blog is coming from.  Tikkun Olam means “restoring the world” and below I’ll share some thoughts about one aspect of this concept.

In the beginning when HaShem was busy creating all that is, He brought things forth in a particular order and He was pleased with how they turned out.  At the end of the sixth day we read, “And G-d saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good.”  Very good!  Meod tov!  We also read:  “HaShem took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.”  Very good.  He was satisfied with His creation and He rested.

What I want to look at with you is the duty to which Adam and Eve were fulfill:  to work and to keep the garden.  This sounds delightful to those of us who are gardeners and nature lovers.  But what are we to make of it? Continue reading

Use vs Rest

There is a popular theory that mankind has caused desertification through over-grazing and that the solution to this desertification is pulling the animals off of the damaged land and letting it rest so it can return to its natural state.  It’s a nice idea, but it hasn’t worked.

Alan Savory has noted, many times, that around the globe where this theory has been implemented that the land which was damaged by over-grazing and then let to lay fallow has not recovered but instead it has continued in its lifeless trajectory.  The theory is a failure, as can be seen when one looks at the globe with Google Earth.
What Mr Savory has observed in his years of study and global travels is that livestock use is critical to land restoration. Continue reading

Day Ranging Laying Hens; The Tractor

This is our first year with pastured poultry and I’m hoping to document our progress, success, and failures for the education and assistance of the masses.  Personally I do not like to eat chicken.  I’ve cleaned enough birds that “foul” describes not only a type of bird and a smell, but a flavor that isn’t all that attractive to me anymore.  However, my pastures have needs and my chickens also have needs, so it seems appropriate to marry the two.  I read in The Stockman Grass Farmer journal a bit ago that anyone raising beef and not following them with pastured poultry of some type is “leaving money on the table” by way of reduced grass growth potential.  That was one of my final pushes to get me seriously thinking about pastured poultry.

In future videos you’ll see how our pastures are looking and the projects we’re working on as we press toward a restoration of the soil biology and diversity of life above and within the soil.  But for now I’m going to show you the tractor my talented husband built and introduce you to the beginning of our pastured poultry journey. Continue reading

Planting With Wood Chips

For years friends have been suggesting to us, “Here, you really should watch this video about gardening.  You’ll like it.  The guy is just south of us.”  And to be honest, we had really good intentions to watch it!  But we just never got around to it until about two years ago.  The movie?  Back To Eden

What we saw was fascinating and encouraging.  I had always mulched our garden with various things and have seen tremendous benefit to doing so.  We began our current garden 12 years ago when it was heavy clay over a deep bed of blue clay.  Not the ideal gardening soil, that’s for sure!  But we’ve been amending it with organic matter and compost on a regular basis.  But we always tilled our garden every spring and usually in the fall after harvest.  I’ve covered with plastic in the off season to kill weeds, gardened with a plastic sheet over the soil and cuts made for the plants, and a variety of other things that never quite sat right with me.  But this – this wood chip mulch and the presentation given in the Back to Eden film – this was exciting.

So now that we’ve had some very pleasing success with the BTE method, I thought I’d share some photos of how to plant in the BTE garden. Continue reading

Thursday, March 16

I’ve been told I should video-blog, and I’m strongly considering it since I don’t have as much time as I once did when I wrote more.  So I’m going to give it a shot.
Besides, it’s more fun to SEE what’s going on than just hear about it.  Right?  😉

For now, I’m going to play with how to upload a video and share it here while I’m uploading my video from last week.

Cycles of the Moon

In the Bible we learn that HaShem’s calendar is a lunar calendar, that it is based on the stages of the moon.  Rosh Chodesh, the head of the month, is declared with the emergence of the new moon.  That first sliver of moon initiates a new month.  We find that the pilgrimage festivals are all at the full moon.

Ancient peoples were observant and noticed that nature has cycles, and that many of these cycles are connected to the moon.  We’ve noted that the tides are affected by the stages of the moon, that even some people are sensitive to the cycles of the moon and their emotional states rise and fall with the moon (just as a police officer or emergency room staff).

So it stands to reason that tapping into ancient wisdom regarding the moon can help us be more successful in our planting, harvesting, and gardening. Continue reading