Sunday, April 09, 2006

Cross-fencing extravaganza!

Here's some lovely shots of fencing in progress. About 1/2 the place is pasture, and the idea is to fence it down into 5 paddocks. This way, we can let goats (and maybe a Dexter cow next spring) into them to control the growth rate and keep areas ready for grazing longer. Most critters left on a big pasture will pick & choose their favorite plants, trample and poop/pee on the rest until nothing is fit for eating. Then you have a whole season with useless pasture and hungry critters. And you have to buy more hay. With rotational (or management-intensive) grazing, you put just enough critters in just enough space, that they have to eat what's on their plate. Then when the grass is down to 3-4 inches, you move them to the next paddock. If you can figure out the right combination, you have nice grazing for most of the year, and only need to mow a couple times to clean up. The animals spread their own fertilizer too. And letting the chickens graze with them helps keeps the parasite problems down.

We seeded 2 kinds of hybrid clover in with the exisiting timothy and other grasses. Hopefully they will pull nitrogen up to refresh the grasses, as well as provide protein for the critters, and be good for hay if we keep the goats out of a paddock until cutting time.

Lots of experimenting, but if we're lucky, we can keep a few grazers happy with less expense and better nutrition. And that means milk, fiber, meat, eggs, etc. all for the price and labor of fencing.


Oldnovice said...

You two do a great job keeping your homestead in tip-top shape. Remember how I'd mentioned that I've never seen a place look so CLEAN? You work at keeping it that way; wears me out just reading your stories. :-) :tup:

Seven Trees said...

One of us just used her day off to do what I call a "moving day" clean. Ugh! But we've visited so many farms where peopl just had too many animals for what they could keep up with, and we're trying to avoid that. Also, being in a conspicuous location is good incentive to try and make it look presentable.

We're just getting ready to head out to set up the barn job site, and that's where some mud is! The hens have been scratching up poop and old hay into a lovely muck soup.