Pasture Rotation and Grass Compaction

An old idea in our home is the concept of leaving the grazing animals in their paddock long enough to “force them to eat it all” before moving on.  This is one concept that came from the big ranches up north where my husband spent his early 20’s working as a ranch hand.  Before going overseas, and when we had more cows than we do now,  when I was busy with the children and not as involved in the livestock side of things as I am now, this was a statement that was often heard.

However, we’ve restructured our small farm and I’m the primary “farmer” while the hubby works long days with an intense commute!  Even before I became the sole farmer in the family, we had moved away from the “make them eat it all” concept.

As you can see, they have left a nice amount of foliage behind and this is okay!  We are building soil and harvesting the grass via our grazing livestock who recycle the grass back into the soil.  Our perspective has changed over the years and we are excited to see how our land and our animals will respond to our evolving concepts.

The same concepts at work with the poultry, though in this location the grass is so tall that the birds simply cannot graze it.  Their tractors sailing through this sea of reeds is pressing the grass down and compacting it with the top dressing of manure.

They are almost at the grassy nole where the juvenile hens will be able to explore outside of their tractor for the first time.  The water trough for the cows are just across the fence from this little nole and the older hens will do their work with the manure left in the alley way.  While they reside on this little nole they will add their manure to the straw strewn about as a cover over the sparse grass that is growing in the sandy soil here.  This will not be their permanent home for the grazing season, just for a little while as they help build some soil in this location and move on to another spot.

 

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

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