Me, mounted on Dancehall Dixie, the great little Mule owned by my friend Stewart.
As always you can click on any photo to see it larger and use your back button to return to the blog….
We have finally had some rain…we were getting dry and had only had 2 inches so far in April which is normally one of our rainier months. In the last two days we have had two thunderstorms, and had 3/10 of an inch the first day and 4/10 last night. It was gray and gloomy this morning and so we walked about and took some photos….taking photos was not my original intent and so I did not take the camera and used the cell phone….unlike most people today the phone is not my better camera and so the photo quality is not quite as good. But I think it will illustrate the things we want to point out.
First up are some shots of the pasture near my front yard. This pasture has been divided into two long strips with one poly rope….this is typically a horse paddock…it was last grazed about two months or more ago….the tall side was grazed and I broadcast some cool season seed and closed it off. The short side was grazed the following week and it also had some seed broadcast and it was mown and had a tire drug over it….the tall side is taller because I did not set it back by mowing it and the plants not grazed bolted in the spring…the new seedlings are just becoming apparent in both fields. And the tall side has one week more growth here in the spring. Sometimes the only way to figure out if what you are doing is right is to try something different. I still don’t know which will end up better but the different management is apparent at this point….now the taller one has bigger weeds as well.
I really need to switch the horses and the cattle to take control of the weed problem but the goats won’t honor the single strand horse fence and just go everywhere….and I can not put the goats with the horses cause both Pete and Star Baby love to chase em….
Next are some shots of paddocks across the big bull field….this one pasture has been divided into five paddocks with poly wire…it was grazed in the late winter by the steer and the goats. The same animals will go back into these in two more weeks….by then the forage will be over the poly wire…what is of interest is that each paddock was grazed for about a week in the fall and then seeded and mown and or dragged. The seeding mix was not very different for each….but there are differences in the plant community in each paddock…the closest one is dominated by vetch and crimson clover…one is dominated by barley and others have varying degrees of the mixtures…
oh and I must point out here that while I was powering up the camera to take these shots a turkey hen flew up out of this field which is right beside my house…Last week she and two suitors were in my back yard….these cover crops are not only good forage….they are great for wildlife.
One thing has become apparent….these pastures where I have continuously had cover crops, have very little fescue. I used to think fescue was the only thing that would hold up….but these continuous covers and rotational grazing have changed the plant community without using herbicides….now I have used some herbicides this week. The goats are not numerous enough to keep up with the brush and the goats do not have access to the horse side so I have been spraying back some blackberry and multiflora rose and thistle and poke berry this spring….
but back to my point…I continue to think that multi species cover crops are a good agent of change suitable for use in converting from endophyte infected fescue to endophyte friendly fescue….two or three courses of seasonal multi species cover crops, supplemented by spraying between cover crops should adequately suppress the endophyte infected fescue. I like the productivity of the cover crops so well that I intend to continue to use them as a primary forage.
Next up is the series of eight paddocks that the horses are grazing now. They are currently in the fourth of the eight. They have each one for about a week.
Here is this week’s paddock with the crew at work.
Here is last week’s paddock, seeded and mown and aerated with my spike tooth aerator. Got it done right before the rain….Oh, and it was seeded with the new summer mscc mix I got this week from Green Cover Seed. I don’t have the mix right here to hand but it has : Pearl Millet, cow peas, sunflower, sun hemp, okra, dwarf essex rape, florida broadleaf mustard, chicory, buckwheat and I forget what else.
I have an area that once upon a time was garden and now is home to the chicken tractor. My routine is to move the chicken tractor weekly and then I throw down some seed and mulch over it. Some of it had gotten pretty tall and so I let the horses and donkeys in over the weekend to knock it back a bit…Pete liked the barley and rye….Star Baby was eating vetch and crimson clover. The donkeys just stood in one spot and ate it all. Perkins decided he liked the chicory. The chicory was about two feet tall and Perkins went from plant to plant and grazed it to the ground.
Not cover crops but these are the day lilies looking good around the graves of eight of my best friends….
Here is another shot of the paddock by the stable where a pair of quail are frequent visitors….the Rape in this shot appears to have taken over.
But there is small gain, crimson clover and vetch as well as a pretty good stand of orchardgrass.
Last but not least…..my chestnut trees are blooming.
I grew these chestnuts from seed that I picked up from a huge chestnut at Big Spring Mill in Elliston, Va. Over 25 years ago….I actually had a couple of chestnuts last year but did not see them bloom…this year there are quite a few blooms.