|Goat barn and goat corral are in blue, indicating they are planned.|
We've been working on pasture #1 for several years, starting back in March 2012 when Dan scraped off all the poison ivy, blackberry vines, and about a thousand sapling trees. The following October we remineralized it and planted it to forage. This has been their primary pasture since then and is a huge improvement over what it was before. (Unfortunately I'm battling ground ivy and deadly nightshade, but that's another story.)
Pasture #2 was used for growing corn, cowpeas, mangels, and wheat, although doing so has always been a struggle. It was the one area that wasn't kept up when the house was empty and the property not in use. This field is infested with kudzu, brambles, pine and pecan saplings, nightshade, and morning glory, to name a few. We've turned the goats in several times a year, also the pigs, but the stuff always grows back. When we finally decided to move the field crops to another area, we got to work on turning proposed pasture #2 into a reality. Recently I was finally able to let the girls in for the first time.
First Dan disked it thoroughly, and then we limed and planted. It's a mix of every kind of pasture grass, herb, root vegetable, and legume for which I had seed. (This is a good way to use old garden seed such as peas, parsnips, turnips, and amaranth). Goats love variety and this is a way I can provide that. I used the same modified Fukuoka method that I showed you last October; covering the seed with a light mulch of goat barn cleanings.
The biggest challenge was keeping the chickens out. They love seed and they love straw! If you've read Critter Tales, then you know all the problems I've had and what I've tried to do to get the chickens to stay put! This time I extended the fence around the chicken yard by tying on a two-foot tall roll of chicken wire. It is now roughly six feet tall.
|The green growing beyond the gate in the background is|
the newly planted buck pasture (#2 on the Master Plan).
The chickens had to stay in their yard until the seed had grown into goat forage.
After planting, everything depends on rain. Rainfall is unpredictable this time of year, but we got enough to get a start on growing. I went back and reseeded the bare spots and waited until that seed started to grow before letting the goats in.
Because the forage is new and rich, the goats have to be introduced to it slowly in order not to upset their rumens. Too much too soon could result in bloat, which can be kill them. (It can also cause soft, clumpy poops.) I started by feeding handfuls in their evening ration, gradually increasing, then gave them short grazing times (15 minutes the first few days, then 30 minutes, then 45, and so on.) The trick to getting them to come in when their time is up is to turn them in right before their evening ration. They don't want to miss out on that so they come when they're called.
|The only problem is that the grass is so tall that the kids|
sometimes lose their moms. Then the hollering begins.
|There she is!|
New Pasture for the Does (and Bucks) © June 2016