March 25th, 2019 — Crop Circles

Crop Circles

Pasture renovation is winding down for the year.  We’ve been at this for 9 years now and will probably still be at it in another nine.  When we moved here the pastures grew goldenrod, Queen Anne’s Lace, wild roses and some other unidentifiable nutritionless green things.  Lacking a tractor, plow, harrow and planter our solution to rejuvenating pastures is a combination of frost seeding and bale feeding.

Frost seeding I’ve written about so this week it’s all about bale feeding.  Round bale feeders for cows look a bit like a jungle gym with the top missing.  Easy to drop 500 pound bales in from the top, you can pick them up with the bale spear on the Bobcat to move to fresh ground or if you want a workout you can lift them yourself and roll them.  On a good day I can lift a bale ring but not if it’s stuck in mud and not if I want to keep my back happy with me. Much better to let the Bobcat do the heavy lifting.

The open sides of the feeder allow lots of hay to be pulled through and dropped on the ground but it’s not waste.  The cows lay around the feeder, high and dry and out of the wind in the winter. And they add a huge amount of free fertilizer with their manure and urine.  Mixed with the compost of the hay and sprinkled with the hay seed that falls off and you have the perfect recipe for growing great pastures.

In a year (if they ate more of the hay then they laid on) or two if the compost is heavy and needs to rot a bit, in the midst of below average pastures there will be a brilliant green, perfectly round circle of alfalfa, clovers and grasses. It really looks like the spot the alien spaceship landed.

And if we drop the bale ring and 1500 pounds of hay on a patch of wild rose canes covered in thorns and wipe them out to be replaced with something verdant and productive then how great is that?

The cows have a couple more weeks of hay feeding and pasture reno work to do, I have another barrel and a half of seed to spread and then our work will be done.

How is your spring shaping up?  Candy

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