Saturday, March 5, 2011

Rain, Sweet Rain!

I just drug myself in from outside, sopping wet, tired and happy.  I spent the last light of day over seeding the front pasture-by hand.  No tractor, no seeder, no drill-just walking and seeding and filling in the occassional rooted up pig spot.  I had to wait until nearly dusk when the chickens had gone in to roost so they would not follow behind me picking up seed! 

 Fred, my donkey jack, walked with me the whole way.  He knew that I had a sack (treats come in those some times) and that I was scattering something on the ground but he just could not quite figure out what.  He trailed along behind me with his nose on the ground like a bloodhound, trying to find the "treats" that he was sure I was throwing out!

I don't like to put out seed, but these pastures have been so mismanaged and they need help and fast. I overseeded with annual rye, birdsfoot trefoil ( a non-bloat causing legume), red clover and white clover.  The pastures are all fescue now with just a little orchard grass in the one that used to be harvested for hay.

The pastures are overgrazed and have not been limed in years. The previous owner used chemical fertilizers on the hay field (only) and no nitrogen source at all on the rest of the pastures.  The soil is red clay with very little organic matter.

 Last summer, I was able to have the pastures sit empty to rest for a couple of months while I moved the farm.  Once I got the animals moved, I rotated them through the three large pastures, giving each one a few weeks to recover before being grazed again.  The pastures came back quickly and actually started to look fairly decent.

I also was able to move the mobile layer house around the pastures and the chickens added their own, all natural fertilizer to the soil.  Maybe this year, we'll have some earthworms move in!

This year I am dividing the pastures into smaller sections so that I can rotate the animals through quicker and give each section a longer rest period (and break up the parasite life cycles).

For now, I am listening to the rain on the roof, happy that my little seeds are out there getting a good soaking!


  1. Our pastures were cotton and soybean fields before we took over so I hear you on the nutrient-deficiency. All your animals look great though. And I'm convinced that there's nothing that chickens can't fertilize back to life!

  2. where did you get the mobile layer house? love it. wish I had one.

    On FaceBook, I saw you were looking for names -