|One of our two paddocks for the does. Even though there|
is no green forage, they've been on acorn hunts every day.
It's pretty discouraging to think we'd have to start over, especially since that's a far cry from my original goal to work on soil and forage improvement in a rotating manner, focusing on one area per year. It seemed as though all our work was for naught.
Rain at the end of November and throughout December finally moistened our hard parched soil. That meant time to start working on the pastures again. I bought seed and conferred with Dan. We had a lot to do. Imagine my delight, then, to be walking through the doe pasture on my way to feed the bucks and to see this.
Grass is starting to grow again! I thought my pasture was completely dead! I planted cool weather orchard grass a couple years ago and it looks to be making a comeback. I started looking around and also found -
I also found some yarrow that had survived.
|Yarrow that survived the summer heat and drought.|
I don't just plant pasture forage (grasses and legumes), I also plant herbs, root crops, greens, etc.
|The girls inspect dead echinacea stalks and seed heads|
before I scatter the seeds. Jessie (white one) ate a few.
One unwanted that survived the summer was several patches of ground ivy.
|Ground ivy (Creeping Charlie). A little weather worn from the cold, but alive.|
This stuff almost completely took over the doe pasture two summers ago (click here to see how the pigs helped with that). In my research I read that it is sensitive to soil boron, and that an application of borax can deter it.
|Used as a source of boron for both soil and goats.|
I tested this idea last summer along a fence where ground ivy was growing and discovered that it was true. Instructions in this article say to make a solution of it and spray it on. I couldn't get it to dissolve, so I lightly dusted the ground ivy with borax right out of the box. Sure enough, it died back where I'd sprinkled the borax.
The problem with the borax treatment is that other plants can be sensitive to boron as well, which could create barren areas in the pasture. On the other hand, if the ground ivy takes over again I could lose the entire pasture again. Hopefully I'll just kill off the ground ivy and the rest will thrive. My soil is actually boron deficient. This comes up in soil tests and in the goats. Lack of boron in goats causes joint problems which can be detected by a "clicking" of the knees. When that happens I start adding borax to their feed, "as much borax as will adhere to the tip of the finger" according to Pat Coleby. That clears up the problem.
Even with new growth appearing I will still spot seed bare areas and mulch as much as I can. It's time to clean out the doe barn so I'll plant and mulch the barest areas with a deer and turkey forage mix of wheat oats, and Austrian winter pea, plus some brassicas and other herbs and greens.
|The light areas are where I've replanted and topped with barn mulch|
(an idea inspired by Masanobu Fukuoka's The One-Straw Revolution).
January and February are typically our coldest months so I probably won't get much growth until early spring. But at least it wasn't as bad as I feared, and I'm thankful for that.
Hope For the Pasture? © December 2016