Where are the goats?

The goats finished cleaning up their pasture and since I have a vacation day today I thought we should go ahead and move them a day early.  They moved to an extra-large area loaded with field pennycress, thistle and Osage orange and honey locust saplings.

This opened a new place for the layers to run and play.  The pasture below looked like the picture above three days ago.

Finally, here’s a shot of the pasture the chickens left behind.  Fewer bugs, even fewer weeds, lots of additional nitrogen and plenty of disturbance.  Now it’s time for rest.

Disturbance and rest.  Disturbance and rest.  The greater the intensity, the longer the recovery period.  Disturbance and rest.  This applies to your own body, not just to grass and dirt.  Did you experience intense physical disturbance today or just rest?

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Movement

In a perfect world I would move my animals every day.  I would prefer to let them just eat fresh salad every day and escape their manure.  Since I have a town job we just don’t have the time.  The broilers get fresh alfalfa every morning, the cows get fresh grass every morning, everything else moves Wednesday and Saturday.  Again, this is not ideal but we just have to do the best we can.

What am I accomplishing with all this rotation?  I’m knocking back the weeds in the pasture in an effort to give the grass a better start.  What weeds?  These weeds.

Here’s a shot across the pasture as the goats enjoy breakfast.

You can see it’s a weedy mess.  Have we got biodiversity or what?  My pictures don’t capture it but there are any number of elm, hedge, locust saplings as well as multiflora rose coming up in the pasture.  The goats put an end to them all.

We follow the goats with chickens.  They do a good job cleaning things up, scratching through dropped hay, aerating the soil, eating bugs and adding more manure.  Here the chickens have been turned out where the goats were 5 minutes ago.

Let’s go in for a better look at the pasture I just turned chickens into.  You can see the goats were here.

The birds are working hard.

The goats worked their magic but you can see there are still some weeds they left behind.  The chickens will clean that up.  Let’s take a look at the pasture the chickens just moved out of.

Very few weeds left.

But, under the maple and walnut trees there is very little grass.  In fact, it’s mostly chickweed.  You can see a distinct line in the chickweed where the fence prevented the chickens from grazing.

Nobody wants to touch the thistle but the chickens will scratch around and under it.  I’m going to have to chop these manually.  Ugh…

Finally, you should see what the cows do to a pasture in about 18 hours.  These are two 600# heifers grazing 10′ from the road in a place the highway department mowed late last summer.  They are contained in a 24×24 corral so we don’t chance them getting into the road.

Every inch is manure, hoof prints or trampled carbon.  I put a lot of pressure on this spot trying to beat back the brush and increase fertility, diversity and quality.  Once I can graze my cows with the goats we’ll really fix some carbon.

The pigs haven’t been moved yet today.  I’m a little undecided about what section of the pasture I want them to renovate.  Also, I have to get to work and it’s almost 8 already.