Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Reworking a pasture

 This year has been very late, in terms of weather and working season.  Working season is the time of year when I do yearly tasks, and the yearly task that I've got now is to cultivate a pasture that will be next years pastured poultry and pig area.   The first thing to do is to remove all of the metal that's surfaced in the last few months.  Todays harvest is a big spring and a car differential.  Or maybe it's a truck differential.  No matter. 
Once I've got the auto parts out of the way, I can work on the next parts.  I've found that its a good idea to have a faucet within 200' of anyplace I'm going to keep animals - hauling water is a major chore, and fresh, clean water is one of the simplest ways to maintain your animals health.  So below you'll find a picture of my waterline rough-in. 
 In this case I dug a ditch about 450' long, about 5' deep.  That's a little deeper than normal, but I want to make sure I'm not going to hit this waterline at some point in the future, if I'm plowing or cultivating.  The other issue is that the pigs, if they get ambitious, can easily get 3' deep in their wallows.  I run a 1" water line down the bottom, and at the end I put an 8' 6x6 post.  It doesn't look like it's 8' long, but it is.  For the water line posts I use pressure treated lumber. 
  Later I'll come back, dig down a couple of feet, install a frost-free hydrant (fancy term for one of these) and then secure the hydrant to the post with plumbers tape.  I'll use the tractor to pull or push the post to the required depth.  I like the posts to be 3-4' above the ground so that I can see the post over medium-tall grass.

After refilling the trench I work over the surface so that it's smooth and relatively firmly packed.  I use a box blade mostly.  I want it smooth so that the chicken tractors will not have gaps under the edges that will allow birds to escape, and because it's always nicer to have a smooth pasture than one that has lumps or furrows.  I'll use the harley power rake to put the final finish on it. 

I will also put in a couple of swales -- Since we get a lot of rain, I'm going to put in shallow depressions in the otherwise-smooth ground, to direct the water to the places I want it to go.  I'm using my knowledge of the various soil types to direct the water to more-permiable soil types, in the hopes that I won't have as many puddles in the winter as I usually do.   

The reed canary grass that is the predominate grass in this area is a root-based grass.  that is, with the cultivation and so on I expect it to bounce back pretty quick.  I'll plant some oats and a tall fescue based pastured mix in it, along with some clover added in for nitrogen fixing.  the goal is to have a grass mixture that will over a variety of diet components to the animals next spring and summer. 
This little boar will be one of the beneficiaries of the grass next year.  He's 7 weeks old, and has been watching with interest as I move dirt around wit the tractor.  He'd like to move the dirt around, too.  Soon, little boy.  Soon. 

1 comment:

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