Strolling through the Pasture December 2012 Edition

I haven’t published my walks in the pasture for several months.  It got dry, hot and turned brown.  Where the pigs were we grew the most amazing oats, rye and turnips.  The pigweed was beyond belief.  You’ll just have to take my word for it.  Now it’s December.

The pasture was home to my neighbor’s cows for 8 months this year on top of years of constant grazing.  Beyond housing the neighbor’s cows, we rotated our goats, chickens, pigs, our own cows and even some hare pens on this pasture this year.  The pasture, though not worse for the wear, is ready for rest.  It looks pretty good from this angle but…


…if we walk South and look North you can see some of the battle scars.  Pigs.  I love pigs.  Truly, I do.  They are so much fun when they are little, so tasty when they aren’t little.  They dig, root, manure, eat, scrounge and play.  Look closely and you can see where the fences were this fall by the berms the pigs built rolling dirt with their noses up to the fence line.  Look for various piles of wood chips used to fill in everywhere the pigs made wallows.   But, in the aftermath of pig surgery we had the nicest stands of oat, rye and turnip you could ask for and the cows said thanks.


At my feet there is an area under the walnut grove that grows little other than henbit and chickweed.  Both of these are welcome as is the daikon radish that apparently isn’t going to make it.  Oh well, it will rot.


Around the hill a bit further South my oldest son and I have marked out a location for a swale.  A swale is just a ditch on contour.  It can be inches or feet deep, inches or feet wide.  But the point is, it holds water back so it can’t rush down the hillside.  Instead, it slowly infiltrates the soil and meters the water into (not over) the landscape below.  I’m really itching to get a swale established here as well as plant a number of trees above, on and below the swale.  More on that another time.


Down the hill further south and you get the slope featured in the July pasture walk.  The slope was entirely covered in chicory.  It still is.  Soon the freezing and thawing action on the hill will break the stems and the stems will fall over.  Next spring it will come back looking like dandelion leaves but with a red vein in the center of each leaf.  I can’t wait.


Then I spy a thorny nemesis.  If not for the thorns I would really like honey locust.  They are pretty, smell nice, make a useful seed, and are a legume.  But then there are the thorns.  A honey locust thorn went completely through my boot and foot one day last winter.  Those trees need to go.


A little to the east I have to stop and root for a little plantain plant.  Come on little buddy!


Crossing the bridge a little further East I find another tree.  I am less adamant about ridding the farm of Osage Orange than I am Honey Locust.  They are thorny, yes, but they make fence posts that will outlast me and awesome firewood.  I’m torn.  Well, not with this one.  It is in the wrong place and has to go.


Wrapping up and heading home, I’m amazed at how much grass is left after the cows grazed the hillside a month ago.  At that time they wouldn’t touch the fescue.  I also notice how much clean-up I need to do on this hill.


Looks like the only things actively growing out there are the henbit and the chickweed.  Several grasses are still green but I don’t hold out much hope for growth for several more months.  April maybe?  Ugh.  So much to do…

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