Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Grass Farmer?

As I was driving the tractor across the freshly turned (somewhat) black dirt spreading manure all I could think about was ... what kind of grass farmer do I look like now! I was in the process of taking my pasture back to bare dirt in order to plant "king corn" ... and I was enjoying it and getting excited about it! And, part of the reason I was doing it was because I just am not quite ready to kick the corn habit just yet. My cattle and sheep are grassfed only, but my pigs are still feed plenty grain and I don't see myself ready or able to change that in the near future (all though I know there are farmers out there not feeding or limiting their grain fed to hogs). My pigs will be on the pasture and in the woods foraging for part of the diet, but they will also have my custom ration available to them and that is why the corn experiment is happening.

The other reason I'm pretty excited about the corn is because of my ditches. Yes, the ditches have me envious because there is much better forage in them than there is in my pastures. In my opinion 14 years of life in the Conservation Reserve Program did these fields more harm than they did good. After the field was entered into the CRP program it was seeded down with native prairie grasses and then left to nature ... the problem is that 21st century "nature" isn't like 19th century "nature"! Years and years ago when this land was originally in native grasses there were fires and large herds of animals doing their work ... for the past 14 years this land just sat. The result was a lot of scrubby wood bushes that grew, lots of bare patches, and a dwindling stand of those native grasses that were seeded. Nature was not actually allowed to work and I think my pastures suffer because of that ... but, that is a long discussion and I'm not ready to get into it yet.

No ... what I am excited about is eventually seeding these areas back to pasture and watching them take off and see what happens when the cows and sheep and chickens are allowed to let nature work. That is what I'm looking forward too ... and I'm sure my animals will be equally excited about it! Right now they are still in the winter area because my grasses have not started to take off yet ... time and the livestock management will help heal the land ... I need to find patience!

1 comment:

Steven Romero said...

Is this part of your open-pollinated corn experiment? What varieties are you using might I ask? How do you plan on fertilizing? What about weed control?

We've got about 50 acres set aside that I'd eventually like to use for grain production in our own operation to offset feed costs assuming it is cheaper to produce than buy. I guess that will all depend on diesel fuel and seed-corn prices.

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