Friday, June 24, 2011

moths and mud

Discovered this fine Luna Moth when I stepped outside this damp morning. Last summer it seemed as though moths were legion around here, but this was the first large moth I've seen this year. Where did they go?

I have a lot of news to share, all of it good, but I need to wait to make it official. I have plenty to keep me busy till then. I have to start some serious work on the pasture, which is starting to worry me. Yesterday's rain storm was so violent it sent streams of mud and topsoil down the hill in the sheep pen. It needs to be reseeded, and while I know it's too late and the wrong time of year to do that, I don't need grass to feed a nation: I need grass to keep the soil in place. So the only option I have within my budget is to move everyone out of there, set up a fence and portable shelter, reseed HQ, and expand the pasture even more to allow more grass to keep their minds and mouths busy while nature heals up. This is a monumental task. I'll need help pounding fence posts and setting up the new fence, not to mention at least $400 dollars in supplies. To me, this is a huge amount of money. I have it, but it comes out of the chimney fund.

This post sounds heavy, but don't think grim thoughts. It will happen, the work always gets done. Slowly, surely, one task at a time. I can buy the t-posts this paycheck, and a big bag of seed, and have it paid for and ready to use as soon as tomorrow morning. When some more cash comes along: I'll buy the 300 feet of field fence and have it forklifted into the back of the Dodge. Strong hands will come out of the woodwork to make part two happen, or maybe Jasper can drag it for me to the top of the field and I can do it all myself over a full weekend instead of three hours with three grown men helping...

Anyway, it's not a matter if this big pasture project will happen, but how.

21 Comments:

Blogger CJ said...

Just a thought, but wouldn't it make more sense to build some type of barrier to prevent the water from doing the same thing next storm instead of doing all this temporary work?

I have no idea how big an area you are in need of re-seeding, but maybe it would make sense to dig a shallow pond. If it's on the side of a hill, half the work is already done for you.

Just thinking out loud (or in type).

June 24, 2011 at 1:19 PM  
Blogger Victoria Strauser said...

The work always gets done... so true. Even though it always leaves a pile of new tasks in its wake! Hang in there!

June 24, 2011 at 1:22 PM  
Blogger Toby said...

I feel your pain! Our ducks and turkeys overgrazed our pasture and when the record rains flooded us out the ducks ate all the roots leaving nothing but hard packed mud behind when it all dried out.

Don't worry about this being the wrong time of year to seed; just get a pasture mix with several different types of seed, keep it watered and it will grow. Especially with the help of all the manure from the sheep! We had the same worry when we seeded, but it's now so lush we can barely get a mower through it! The voracious turkey poults can't even keep up!

It will come back faster than you think and probably be a much healthier pasture because of the reseeding.

June 24, 2011 at 1:30 PM  
Blogger doglady said...

I would find some bales of mulch hay and create a water diversion where ever it entered your pasture. With the animals off the area new grass will grow fast if you can keep it moist. A light layer of peat or compost over the seeds will help.

June 24, 2011 at 1:45 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

CJ: it's a steep hillside3 of mud, it needs seed. no way around it

June 24, 2011 at 2:14 PM  
Blogger Natalie said...

I understand the rationing of necessary items in paycheck-by-paycheck chronology. It's a bit of a pain, but it keeps us busy bodies at a (slow and) steady pace, I suppose. :)

June 24, 2011 at 2:43 PM  
Blogger katiegirl said...

Jenna are you familiar with sacrifice areas? They're smallish areas meant to hold animals when there is no grass or when it's really muddy. They generally tear up the sacrifice area, but it leaves your pastures unharmed. It needs to be in an area that's high, but not necessarily on a hill. You don't want to create a mudslide, but you want water to drain well. Ideally this area will have the shelters and water trough in it.

I have a high stocking rate on my place but I keep my grass protected by removing the sheep and goats when the grass gets low (don't graze closer than 3-4") and put them back on it when the grass is high enough. You'll have to feed hay while they're in the sacrifice area, but it will save your pastures.

With large animals (and even sometimes smaller ones) they tear up the ground so much when it's wet, so that would also be a good use for the sacrifice area.

Here's a link to my blog post about sacrifice areas: http://katiegirlkate.blogspot.com/2010/03/cross-fencing.html


Another thought...have you looked into the electric netting from Premier? It might be a good temporary solution for creating new pasture.

June 24, 2011 at 3:01 PM  
Blogger Pam said...

My son found used fencing from someone who was giving it away to anyone who would take it down. Check around, perhaps someone has something like this in your area. It took some time getting it down, rolling it up and bringing it home but it was FREE. Ask around Jenna.

June 24, 2011 at 3:13 PM  
Blogger Abby said...

Not sure if you've checked in with NRCS, but they have programs to help offset costs for perimeter fencing, prescribed grazing, as well as reseeding. The timeline won't necessarily help now, but a good idea to ensure the future of your farm.

June 24, 2011 at 3:19 PM  
Blogger Kelpie and Collie said...

Can you get some electro-net and then be able to bring sheep out other places on your property to graze? You already have charge, and the rolls are not overly expensive. And, the sheep do not need shelter, generally, as long as they have trees to get under for shade/protection from rain.

June 24, 2011 at 3:19 PM  
Blogger Sojourner Design said...

Jenna,
I usually refrain from commenting but I just can't help myself here.
1. Is the washout happening because of overgrazing, or was there a problem BS (before sheep)?
2. If it were me I'd invest that $400 in several rolls of Electronet. Much less work and you can use it to graze all of your property and onto your neighbors property if that's feasible. My sheep have about two acres permanently fenced and during the summer they graze rotationally on about twelve acres. I have 18 sheep and all they will eat is grass until sometime in December.

June 24, 2011 at 3:50 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

BS!

I need perm fencing. I work half an hour away and am gone all day. I can't have a short and come home to escaps or worse....

June 24, 2011 at 3:51 PM  
Blogger Kelpie and Collie said...

Electro-net is used by folks who leave sheep miles from their homestead- it works very well. I have used it myself. Not the cheap farm store stuff, but electro net. Sheep eat a lot of grass. Can you fence in the whole 7 acres? Not sure how many you have now, but you may be at your max.... Unless you get that electro net!

June 24, 2011 at 4:14 PM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

if you plan to continue grazing on pastures with a steep slope i fear reseeding grass will be an uphill battle.

research erosion control practices (planting native shrubs and trees to stabilize soil/contruct a dry creek bed) for permanent solutions.

you could even divert some water from a contructed dry creek bed to irrigate your garden!

think long term sustainability and just imagine what one high volume precipitation event will do to newly seeded sloped field.

June 24, 2011 at 4:36 PM  
Blogger redbird said...

I haven’t seen a luna forever-thanks for sharing.

Never dealt with sheep, just a horse and some cows and all were always picketed out almost all summer log so that their pastures could get really nice and I could get at least two cuttings from them and have hay for the fall and winter. It wasn’t so bad moving everyone around and then checking on all with a lantern in the night to make sure they were well, and this way I never had to buy tons of fencing. Everyone, especially the horse seemed to love stake-out season. This wouldn’t work with a job two hours away and I imagine sheep can’t really be picketed—that could be interesting.

Recently went through Iowa where I saw a farm had terraced their big hills to cut back on erosion and then had a mega herd of angus happily grazing away on them. I imagine that it took a lot of work to get the way it was.

Best of luck with your hillside!

June 24, 2011 at 7:45 PM  
Blogger anton said...

I'm with the electronet folks. I use it exclusively to hold in my goats, sheep (ewes and rams), cows, chickens, ducks and geese. I've never had anyone escape in 2 years. I work 45 minutes from home and had the same worries as you about someone getting out but it's been working well. I use the solar charger as well as the non-solar chargers and always keep a spare battery charged when the red light comes on. The electronet is more affordable in the short term until you can save enough to have permanent fencing put up. I got mine from Premier. Best of luck.

June 24, 2011 at 8:17 PM  
Blogger Janet said...

A holding area makes a lot of sense, even if you have to sometimes feed out hay until your grazing recovers - you need a good solid perimeter fence, and then within that you need to be able to string moveable fencing - leaving a large area open for fulltime grazing is going to mean it all gets overgrazed with no chance of recovery, which is disastrous in a hilly area. You may want to look at short term goals and long term goals in combination and may need to start watching for and thinking about either leasing or buying adjacent land if you want to expand your flock. Best of luck with this issue - it sems nothing is ever completely worked through and paid for before another issue comes up. Hang in there - eager to hear your news when you are able to tell it.

June 24, 2011 at 9:01 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

Jenna, if it's helpful you oughta check out the Matron of Husbandry over at Throwback at Trapper Creek. She's running pastured beef, but she knows an awful lot about a lot of things, especially pasture management and moving fences. Look under her tags of rotational grazing and Salatin-style farming. I think you'll pick up some good tips there.

http://matronofhusbandry.wordpress.com/

June 25, 2011 at 1:08 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

thank you for all the feedback, looking into electronet now!

June 25, 2011 at 10:36 PM  
Blogger Mona said...

Jenna, my husband dug many, many swales around and through our pasture to divert run off water which all work very well. We're also going to be planting some weeping willow trees to help drink up a lot of the water and provide shade for our critters. I've heard to plant them at least 50 feet away from your septic system.

June 26, 2011 at 11:00 AM  
Blogger Andy said...

I use it exclusively to maintain in my goats, sheep (ewes and rams), cows, chickens, ducks and geese. I've certainly not experienced anybody escape in two years.

How can we Sell WOW Gold through the internet? We must make it safe and trust those people who buy our's products, and we can Sell Gold of other games.

December 13, 2011 at 1:13 AM  

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