We finally made it to spring….for a while I wondered if I had the fortitude to make it…but here on the first full day of spring I find that I am still alive….
We are down to burning just one wood stove and we are not burning it hot as we have been all winter…but when I got home on Thursday afternoon Marie did have the temperature up to 85 degrees in the house….she is still cold mentally…. And justifiably as the photo below was taken just two weeks ago of Dee Dee cooling it in the snow….
Just to show how rough they have it the photo below shows a pile of puppies after a hard day playing in the snow….they were piled up on top of me on the sofa….Dee Dee has the good grace to lay along side my legs but Apache wants to pile up on me so I can scratch his belly til he dozes off. Right now they are trying to convince me to quit typing and go outside with them to play in the mud…
We did that yesterday and they got good and dirty and wet….they were supervising me as I engaged in spring cover crop seeding and temporary fence building.
I have seeded various mixes on 7 paddocks in the last two weeks…five of them were used as sacrifice areas over the winter and two are new cutover land where I have harvested firewood.
Below is a shot of what I refer to as a temporary fence kit. Some polywire on a spool with a gate handle. I have small paddocks so I take a 660 foot roll of wire and cut it into three lengths of 220 feet each…. A few step in posts….as you can see I have several types….My favorite is the Obrien Plastic but they are getting hard to find….they will last forever because they are made with a better resin and don’t break when you look at them hard….for this fence the corner is a steel tee post driven into the ground and a five foot length of 2 inch PVC pipe slipped over it…a piece of baler twine for a convenient carrying case……..Took about five minutes to put up the fence…..actually took longer to assemble the materials than to build the fence. One strand will turn the horses and cattle…the goats are not on this side….takes at least two strands to turn the goats and three works more reliably…
The next photo is during the reseeding of a sacrifice area….The supervisors are checking to see if we have good seed distribution….this is an area where when the weather was decent I threw hay over the fence for the horses….this year I just broadcast early spring seed shut the gate….and walked away….will see what happens…..seeded spring oats, yellow sweet clover, chicory, ryegrass, red clover and a few pounds of left over fall cover crop mix….the plan was to run a drag over it after seeding….but it is getting late in the season and the fields are too wet for a tractor so I just seeded in the rain and hoped the rain would assist in getting the seed to the ground….there is plenty of mulch and plenty of horse manure….what germinates will do well….
The next shot is the other side of the same field….this side did not benefit from the mulch hay…I could reliably throw hay about half way across the field without having to turn off the electric fence…..it was actually shut off and reseeded last week ….again in the rain….seed used was a barley mix with several clovers and rye grass and chicory.
Then it was on to the new area….this is a section where I cut the firewood we have been burning this winter…..the stumps are still there….in fact with the foul weather I have been unable to burn brush and now there is a burn ban so I had to just move the major brush out of the way and hope to be able to burn it later….now this is true experimentation…..I am not doing anything to this land but putting down a variety of seed and hoping that something will take hold….it is cutover forest so the pH is low and so is the fertility…my agronomist friends tell me that I am crazy…wasting my money on seed without amendment….I do not expect miracles…but I do expect it to start….and once I get the biology going all I have to do is keep a green and growing cover on it and it will come along…..I proved that to myself two years ago with the poor land that I put Rye and vetch on and the land has been transformed into a productive paddock that this year will become part of the grazing rotation….
But I digress…these are two small paddocks….the cleared strip is about 30 0r 35 feet wide and maybe 200 feet long….I decided to make two paddocks out of it and seeded it with two slightly different seed mixes. Both were a spring oats based mix…one had perennial rye grass and the other has annual ryegrass…different mixes of clovers in each….different chicory in each and both has a few pounds of left over fall cover crop mix. Originally I was going to broadcast and rake in the seed with a hand rake….wet condition and lateness of season altered that plan….the seed was broadcast in the rain….much of it into standing water….chicory, ryegrass and yellow sweet clover were chosen for root mass and penetration to improve permeability. If it does not do anything I will try again with a summer mix in May…
My aim is to try to document my progress with photographs and to report results over the summer…currently there is now sunshine streaming in my window and I am taking the supervisors outside to see what other trouble we can get into….