Our first inspirational breakthrough was when we decided to space the field corn and cowpea rows far enough apart to cut down the weeds between them with the lawnmower. (See "Of Corn, Cowpeas, & Lawnmowers.")
|I'm still weeding rows with the lawnmower. At first I thought I planted |
the rows too far apart. Now I think I planted them too close together. ;)
Then when our pasture improvement project got delayed, I found myself fretting over all the unwanteds growing there. If they all went to seed, it would perpetuate the very problem we were trying to get rid of. That was the first time it occurred to me to use the bagger attachment that came with our lawn mower.
As an aside I'd like to say that I love my lawnmower. It's a Husqvarna 7021 and it never skips a beat if the grass is too high or thick (which it often is). When we bought it, we were debating between one of these or a hand pushed reel mower. We couldn't get both, and even though I wanted the reel mower, Dan chose this one. The reel mower would have been fine for our flat front yard, but we have other areas that are steep and grow thick. I admit this one has been much better for that.
Until now though, I'd never used the bagging attachment. I couldn't see the point. Why bother to bag up the clippings just to make the lawn look prettier. The neighbors should be glad it gets cut at all. But when my future pasture was loaded with growing weeds I didn't want to reseed, it occurred to me that I could actually bag and use those clippings.
As chicken litter for example...
|Grass clippings mixed with leaves make for a sweet smelling coop|
The clippings make the coop smell fresh and clean, and the chickens love to scratch around in search of those seed heads and maybe even a few choice bugs to eat. I give them a quick stir once a day and when it's time to clean out the coop, these are well mixed with manure and nicely precomposted.
I've used grass clippings in and around the goat sheds too, especially where the ground gets too muddy for hooves to be continaully walking through.
|Using grass clippings in the buck barn,|
for bedding & to cover muddy areas
Dried, they make good worm bedding.
|Grass clippings next to compost worm bed. These must be dry before|
adding to the bed to avoid the heat from decomposition of green matter.
I pile them next to the worm bed and let them dry out. When they need more bedding, I toss some in.
Hand mowing an acre field and emptying the bag frequently is still a lot of work. There are some things though, that I have to get rid of, like deadly nightshade, which pops up frequently. Being able to accomplish that plus collect the grass clippings helps me feel more productive, because I'm killing two birds with one stone so to speak.
As we learn to make do with what we've got, we find ourselves analyzing our needs in a different light. Yes, we could certainly use some heavy equipment, but perhaps it isn't what we originally thought we needed. Some jobs can be done with alternatives, some can be done by hand. With just two of us though, we need to consider wise use of our time and energy. I'm not saying we've reached any conclusions yet, but we are rethinking. Maybe, for example, we don't need a farm tractor. Maybe a 2-wheeled tractor (AKA walk-behind tractor) is all we need for our small acreage. This is an instance where experience and not having a lot of money have worked in our favor. Hopefully when it's time to make the final decisions, they'll be good ones.