March 11th, 2019 — Transitions


It’s the end of winter, finally!  And that means a shift in some work.  Woodcutting will go on the same, the woodshed is half empty and I’d like to finish winter with a bit more in the bank.  But going out with the truck and chainsaw will have to wait for a morning cold enough for the ground to be frozen so we don’t put ruts in the field.

We hauled 4 loads of hay home Saturday, enough with the second cutting stored here to last until mid-May and possibly the end of hay feeding.  Then we did inventory and found we have excess to sell so 2 more loads came home to be stored in the barn here for easy access for buyers. Last year we were end of winter hay buyers and it’s much nicer to be hay sellers, the new hay field we planted is paying off.

I started frost seeding a few weeks ago.  If you spread seed on the ground when it’s freezing and thawing the ground opens up enough to draw the seed in and it can germinate.  If you think this won’t work ask how weeds manage without plowing, discing, harrowing, cultipacking or cultimulching to spread themselves everywhere you don’t want them.  I started in the field we call Kimball, it’s been fallow for 3 years now to recover from conventional farming and it’s ready to be planted, fenced and grazed.

Frost seeding without working up the soil works in another way as well.  Disturbing the soil stops the chemical processes that organisms generate that makes organic matter and finally soil.   Growing the plants we want without tilling lets it continue to work without interruption.

I only have a vague understanding of how it all works in spite of reading numerous books about the whole micro world going about it’s business in our dirt; but I do know how to stay out of it’s way and assist a bit from time to time. All compost goes into Kimball along with the ashes from the woodstove.  Cleaning the chicken coop, odd bits of organic material all go straight to Kimball. The more organic matter our soil has the more resilient it is to floods and droughts. Improving our percentages of organic matter is an important step in our 5 year drought plan.

So that’s what the coming week looks like, watching the thermometer for a chance to cut firewood and heading out to Kimball everyday with a seeder full of a pasture mix that contains as many legumes, grasses and forbs as we could manage.  The plants have a symbiotic relationship with each other that is just beginning to be understood. The old practice of planting multiple things in your hay and pasture on the theory that something will grow is finally being appreciated by modern science.

How is your week shaping up?  Candy


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