Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Grass Farming Dicipline

Let me start off by saying that I am not a expert in the field of grass farming, not by any means. I am truly a novice, at best. I can't even say that I have quality pasture (yet). And, quite frankly, I am small time. We are just a small homestead family, trying to provide more for ourselves and selling a bit of the leftovers. That being said, we do treat our small enterprises as businesses. I believe you have to in order to keep a profit.

As I said, we are a small, family homestead and I don't even try to look any bigger than that. I don't want any false pretenses out there. I have read a lot on the subject of grass farming and have gained a bit of knowledge, but I find myself, at times, trying to manage my small acreage like a "pro". This ideology comes with its share of anxiety, especially when, year after year, I find that I don't know all that much anyway.

This brings me to the subject of this article. I have said this before and I'll say it again, my biggest enemy on our homestead is dicipline. I have never been very diciplined, I could list the names of all my teachers in school and they would whole heartedly agree, but I will spare that embarasment to myself at this time.

What I have decided to do is to quarentine the few bovine we own into small areas in order to let the grass grow, so I can begin the rotation plan. However, every time I look at the paddocks, I get all nervous and really want to let them out. I go through this every year. I am trying very hard this time. I don't want to let them eat everything right off the bat. I have done this every year that we owned them and the end result is always the same, the grass is eaten to little nubs and it takes forever for it to recover. There are spots where it hasn't recovered at all.

I wish to avoid that this year. Like I said, I have read a lot on this subject, and I know that what I am doing is not sustainable, nor good for the land. And that is one of our core beliefs-stewardship. I know all of this. The problem is not in a lack of knowledge. I can't plea ignorance, like I spent my school career doing.

The discipline is in waiting for the grass to grow tall enough to sustain a large animal. Right now, the grass is the perfect height for chickens, which would be fine, if that was all we were raising.

I have read that the ideal situation would be grass at a height of eight inches, grazing down to around four inches, then let it recover. So, this is what I am shooting for, if I can hold out. It is tough, I tell you. You should see the look on the cows faces as they long for that fresh green stuff on the other side of that wire.

Another "wrench" in the plan is that it has been cool and nothing is growing exceptionally fast. This goes back to the poor soil quality (another thing I am working on), as I see other places around that are nice and lush. This is another discipline area. It takes time to get the soil where it should be. We don't have a ton of cash lying around to spend on fertilizers. Plus, this is the first year we have used Fertrell on the soil. We have focused on Fertrell's animal nutrition until this year. So I am excited to see some results. I must be said that, even that, will be limited on results as we don't have the money to outlay for a full fertilization program. Mr. Obama, can I get some of that stimulus?

I am trying to be disciplined enough to watch the grass grow. I hope I can last that long.

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