May 19, 2020

Paddock Mower

Here is Dan's latest contrivance, a paddock mower.


How is it different from a regular lawn mower? By adding oversize wheels, Dan was able to raise the mowing deck to almost six inches, rather than the typical two to four of a regular mower.


To use larger wheels, he had to extend the axles so the wheels wouldn't hit the mower deck. He made the extensions out of ¾-inch bolts. The spacers (blue below) are pex pipe.


What's the point? Well, with intensive rotational grazing, the idea is for the paddock to be grazed down about 50% of the forage height. Cattle will apparently do that, but I find goats less consistent. They take top bites off a lot of it, but ignore a lot of it too. Then seed heads start shooting up.

Before mowing.

Once plants start putting energy into producing seed, the leafy parts lose nutrients and palatability. The idea of mowing tall is to simulate grazing. This stimulates leaf production and delays seeding, although we're transitioning from winter forage to summer forage right now, which means everything is determined to finish its life cycle and produce seed anyway.

After mowing. This is how it should look after grazing.

We tried this last year with our regular lawn mower, but it cuts too short. It scalps the forage so that it takes a long time to recover to good eating height again. By cutting taller, I hope we can continue to improve grazing, and continue to improve the soil because the clippings are left where they're cut.

That's the theory, anyway. We're in another rainy spell at the moment, which means no grazing or mowing. But hopefully, it will get my summer pasture seed going.

Paddock Mower © May 2020 by Leigh

31 comments:

Gorges Smythe said...

Most people scalp their yards and then wonder why their lawn dies. In theory, my mower is set about 5", but reality is more like 3."

Leigh said...

Gorges, nothing looks worse than a scalped dying lawn. I looked for a mower with a higher cutting deck, but I don't think they make them. Everyone is too convinced that cutting short means less work.

daisy g said...

Brilliant! ;0D

Cockeyed Jo said...

WTG Dan!

Kris said...

Dan Dan he's the man!!

Leigh said...

I tell him he's my superman, but I don't think he believes me. He always comes up with an idea!

Mama Pea said...

Yep, he's truly a superman. Not only does he come up with the ideas, but has the ability and engineering skills to take the idea to fruition. Whadda guy!

Boud said...

My late husband would have loved this. A scientist, not a handyman, he had to do wheelies with a regular mower to tame the overgrown mess at our house when we moved in. Weeds and wildflowers, lovely, not lawn, we wouldn't go there, but in this region, unless you mow, you'll end up with a thicket of rogue trees in no time.

Ed said...

I've seen a lot of donks in my day but never one in lawnmower form. Better not take that to a major metropolitan area or someone might abscond with it.

Tom Stewart said...

Hey Leigh,
I have no grass, I wish I did so I could add the clippings to the compost. As it is now, I have to get clippings from a friend who has a lawn service.
Our Homestead is only 1/5th of an acre and it is all Red Lava gravel and sand. So I am building Raised Beds from Pallets and Thursday we have 4 Tons of Cinder-soil being delivered. We will have Raised beds all over the place!
Tom

Leigh said...

Mama Pea, I tell him he should have been an engineer because that's how his mind works. But he says he was never much on math.

Boud, people love their lawn mowers! We end up with a jungle here pretty quickly too.

Ed, lol. First time for everything! I imagine city folk would be scratching their heads over this one. ;)

Tom, your place sounds perfect for raised beds! At least you don't have wiregrass to tend with.

Michelle said...

Excellent idea and implementation!

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Great Idea!

I have yet to find just the right height for my lawn.

Leigh said...

Michelle, I hope it helps!

TB, I have no idea about lawns either, except most lawn mowers seem to cut it too short.

wyomingheart said...

What a brilliant idea! If we didn’t have so much to mow I would consider this little bush hog. We keep the non hay fields mowed with the bush hog, and it is the perfect height to allow good growth of grass, and still keep most weeds cut, and allow for nutrient and air to work into the soil. Good on Dan to come up with such a cleaver piece of needed equipment! Have the storms been giving you grief? We have had nice rain on the garden here. Have a great week!

Leigh said...

Wyomingheart, a bush hog was one of the options we originally discussed. I'm glad it's working for you.

Of the storms, we're being deluged with rain. 2.3" on Monday, and inch yesterday, and 0.75 inches overnight so far with rain forecast for all day. We're exceedingly soggy here!

Sam I Am...... said...

I learn something every time I read your posts! Dan is a whizz! How did he get to be so smart? I like that mower!

Leigh said...

Sam, I'm sure my bugging him helps, lol.

Florida Farm Girl said...

Ingenious. No other word for it. l

Goatldi said...

Love this! Match made in Heaven you two.

The Wykeham Observer said...

I feel reinforced by this idea. Everyone I know cuts their lawn so short, but I have always cut it at the very highest setting. My thought was always that it kept the grass greener longer in dry spells, and it encouraged the health of the plant, and discourages weed growth, because I don't use any weed killers . So, although mine isn't being grazed, it still is so much healthier for other reasons. Thanks so much! Phil/MN

Leigh said...

FFG, I agree!

Goatldi, we do make a good team. :)

Phil, I absolutely agree with you. I reviewed a book a couple of months ago, Building a Better World in your Backyard (that review here) and one of the chapters is called "The Conventional Lawn VS The Mowable Meadow." The authors explain why mowing higher results in a healthier, more resilient lawn that grows less weeds and needs less watering. You're right on track!

Lisa French said...

This is the answer I’ve been looking for all these years! We have a spare push mower that I’m going to do this with today! Brilliant. .

Leigh said...

Lisa, I'm glad to hear you can use this idea! Having a spare lawn mower is perfect for the job.

Powell River Books said...

You have so many techniques to share with others. You learn by doing, we learn from your experience. - Margy

Renee Nefe said...

You two come up with the best ideas. :D

Retired Knitter said...

Way to go!! You guys could sell this idea and make mint!!

Leigh said...

Margy, they're experiments! Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. :)

Renee, the other option was to buy a Grillo two-wheel tractor for about 3 or 4 thousand dollars and then an adjustable sickle bar for another $1000+. Not much of an option!

RT, I don't know about that, but we're happy to share our ideas.

The Happy Whisk said...

That is some cleaver cool thinking. This is very cool. I don't have animals that eat my lawn but I do have dogs that dig it up. Hahaha. Pets. So fun. What? What hole, Wiggy says? "You mean, you don't want me to digs this bigs hole here? So you can fall and breaks your necks?"

Lisa French said...

Where did he find the wheels? I can’t seem to find any that size.

Leigh said...

Ivy, Wiggy's so cute. None of them understand why we humans don't want holes dug in the yard!

Lisa, he got them at Lowes in the lawn mower department. Probably any place that sells replacement wheels would have them, or could them them for you.