Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Pathetic Pasture

This is our 5th growing season here at GrassStain Farm, and its time to tackle the Northern Border.  Up til now we've had other priorities such as good fencing, developing the paddocks near the barn, establishing the broilers and layers, and so forth.  Hence, the pasture area along the north fence has looked the same, and frankly, its a little pathetic.  Its dry, hard ground growing some grass and weeds.

Above pic is facing east; below is facing west from same spot.

Here's the plan:  We have two cool season cover crop mixes coming any day now.
We'll seed #1 mix on the west half and #2 mix on the east half  and watch the results.
Pretty scientific of us, don't you think? 

We found a seed company that has a mix calculator on their website, and they will mix any size needed.  What that means to us is that we weren't too small.  Keith, one of the owners, told us the shipping cost would remain the same up to xxx lbs (I forgot exact amount) so I doubled our order.  Once we have seeded the above pastures, we'll mix the remaining and scatter it around other small areas of grazing -- mainly between the edge of trees and fence.  

How did I know what to order?  Good question with no great answer.  However, I'll pass on the process:  
From this past winter's conferences, I learned about cool season and warm seasons crops.
Also, I picked up the tidbit of 1M seeds/acre is good, but you can go higher to cover for loss from birds and other factors.   And, a mix of legumes, broadleaf, grass, and brassicas is good for a variety of leaf size, root size, etc, to add to good soil health. 
Therefore, I ordered a cool season mix adding up to about 1.5+M seeds/acre.  It's not a complex mix; only 4 different plants until we add the two mixes together.
We are excited to get something going and watch the results.

Another important nugget we picked up at a workshop:
One smart successful farmer said this, "We want to fail at several things every year. 
We just make the failures small."  

The fact that we are trying something new already says success.
Whether we have a good pasture or not remains to be seen.  
Oh, and in July we'll plant a warm season mix.

Eggmobile...the sequel.

To learn what the Eggmobile is, read the previous blog.  The early framework pics are there, too.  
Now, we'll see Bob's continued work and the final product!
There are two rows of nests which the chickens enter from the inside, and we access from these doors on the outside.  Picking eggs will be much easier and cleaner with this method.  In the pic, the bottom door is down; once complete the top door will be able to attach to roof.

C'mon In, my little chickies!.  
Here's the nests from the inside and some of the roosts.

Bob is lowering the ramp that allows the hens to go out for fresh air and exercise and just to grub around.
At night the girls head back in, and we'll put the door up to keep out predators.

And here's the final version:  

Its a nice yellow as that was the unused paint found in the basement. 
Hope the ladies like it. ;)
We'll move the hens in this weekend, pull the eggmobile out to a pasture where the cows have been, '
set up the poultry electric fence, and let them do their thing.