Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Pasture Management part 2

I want to apply the knowledge from the pasture management class to our little patch of mud.

First, we are going to spread urea (N) all over our pastures to help the grass grow through spring. We know this will work because the grass around old poop piles is growing furiously. Nitrogen (N) is safe for animals—sometimes it is even put into their food—so we can do this now without worrying about them.

We will kill the grasses that are growing wild, twice, to make sure that we have a blank slate to plant desirable grasses. We will do this sometime in the fall when the rains resume because we don’t have irrigation for the pastures yet. The grass will die back in July because Oregon, contrary to popular belief, has long, dry summers, and grass goes dormant in the heat.

Once we have that blank slate, we are going to drag the pastures with a hunk of log with large screws driven into it. This will help in loosening up the topsoil and make a place for the fertilizer and seed to go. Charles is looking forward to dragging a log chained to the back of his lawn tractor around the property. I’m taking pictures.

At some point before we fertilize, we are going to take soil samples for a soil test. We are deciding which zones to average together because each pasture has a steep slope and a flat area, too. We know that the slopes and flats will be different, so we are considering grouping the soil samples by geography instead of pasture boundary. This means that the pastures may be fertilized in two zones each, with a two types of fertilizer, one for the slope, one for the flat.

Once we have fertilized and seeded, we need to keep the animals off of the grass until it is firmly established. This means that our pastures 2 and 3 may not go into operation until March or February 2006.

Here’s our bit of advice for people looking to establish pastures…DO IT NOW. Begin as soon as you can because it takes a long time to even renovate a pasture. We are actually considering beginning phase 2 of our plans for our ranch by developing another three acres this summer that we aren't’t planning on putting into operation for at least two years. It really does take that long. If you want animals on your land at some point, please consider beginning preparations now. The worst that can happen is that you will have to mow some grass during the summer until you can get animals to munch it down for you.

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