Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Farm spring to-do list

Looking through the seed catalogs now, thinking about what I'm going to plant. 

This is an aerial view of the new farm.  It's 40 acres in a square, and the house and barns are directly in the center, which is actually where I'd put my house if I were to build a new one.  This is an older farm; the barn was built to be hand-worked and shoveled; I'm going to guess 1905 or 1907 based on some deed information, but certainly no later than about 1920.  The house is newer; the previous owners family told me that it was run as a dairy and the house burned down one year, so the farmer rebuilt the house with masonry blocks because of the three little pigs :), so a masonry block house it is. 

The picture is oriented so that north is up.  Along the south edge is a pretty thick stand of young cedar trees; they're not mature enough to be timber,but they'll be there in 20 years or so.  Where the trees are is a steep hill that rises to the south. 

At some point in the past they installed at least two generations of drain tiles; once with clay and cement pipes, and once with plastic corrugated pipe.  Even with that there's still a fair bit of water that flows off the hillside, down past the house and continues to the north property line. 

The ground hasn't been worked in a while, and it's pretty rough and rippled; which isn't a problem if you're grazing cattle, but slows you down when you're harvesting hay or any other crop.   I suspect that the ground fertility and PH isn't where it should be and that I'll have to do something before the final crop is planted.  In this area that usually means a healthy dose of lime (3-6 tons per acre) and then trace minerals (copper, sulfur, selnium, that sort of thing), and then whatever is called for in terms of fertilizers.    I'm going to hold off on making crop choices until I get the soil back, but whatever I do end up with has got to take into account wet feet, at least during the winter; and that limits the choices I can make. 

Speaking of rough; someone at some point took a trackhoe and dug holes in random places around the pasture.  maybe 20 or 30.  They're 4' wide and about 6' deep.  I guess that was to keep  you awake as you drive around on the tractor!

At this point I'm inclined to plow and final-grade the land to get it reasonably flat, and look at the drain tiles to see what shape they're in, how much water they're carrying now, and figure out if I want to do something about them - flush them out, replace them, ignore them.  Not sure at this point. 

In the northwest corner there's a small group of trees.  It looks like that may have been either a barn or a previous house or corral; there's lumber there and some old implements; next to it, to the east, is a small gravel borrow area.  The gravel area fills with water at this time of year; its about a half-acre in size, and would actually make a nice farm pond if it could hold water.  Maybe feed it new water from the drain tiles.  Kinda fun to think about. 

The plowing will have to wait until we've got some drier weather; in the meanttime I can repair the barbed-wire fences there, put in an electric, and graze the cattle on the new growth, particularly in the areas where I'll be working the soil.  No reason not to get some forage off of it before I plow it. 


Nick Keenan said...

"Speaking of rough; someone at some point took a trackhoe and dug holes in random places around the pasture. maybe 20 or 30. They're 4' wide and about 6' deep."

My land was like that when I bought it, the previous owner had dug septic test pits all over the place, sounds exactly like what you have. Around here when someone is preparing land for sale it's very common to see if it "percs" because if it does it's potential home sites and worth a lot more. If it doesn't perc then it's sold as farm land.

Nick Keenan said...

Oh, and wait until those pits get covered in 3-4 feet of hay grass. That'll get your attention when you drive into one.