Friday, June 1, 2012

it was once a lawn

I was mowing the lawn yesterday afternoon listening to the adventures of Claire and Jamie in Paris, and enjoying the work of it when I stopped to notice the grass. Or rather, noticed the lack of it. Don't be mistaken, there was plenty of green below my feet, but three summers of chickens, geese, ducks, rabbits, turkeys feeding and opposite-feeding on it have created a whole new world. There's a whole new type of lawn below my boots. Now where there was once just domesticated lawn grass there are clovers, timothy, fescues and legumes. There are dandelions and violets, sprays of nettle and burdock. What was once a chemically treated and seeded bit of living astroturf has changed into bonefide pasture. It is a result of the work of seed, manure, and natural lack of sprays and artificial inputs has created something very different than a lawn here.

When I was done outside, it was hard to tell. All mowed down it is uniform and even, it appears to be suburban curb appeal. But when it starts to grow from rain and sun things seed and flower and leaf out. It looks wild! I watch the poultry pick and choose what deserves eating, they look at that lawn with decision, not random plodding about. It's something else. I turned someone else's decoration into a buffet. Not bad work of three springs. It was once a lawn, and now it is a pasture.


Blogger Karen Rickers said...

How wonderful!

My aspiration is to someday have no traditional 'lawn' whatsoever, nothing I have to cut using fossil fuel.

It sounds as if your green space is becoming more 'natural' year by year. So great.

June 1, 2012 at 6:17 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth from the Berkshires said...

I love looking at how many different types of plants are on our "lawn." This is the first year we can call it a pasture, since this is the first year we have chickens, but it's been diversifying itself for a long time.

Speaking of lawns, I'm trying to talk Weez into getting one of these for mowing:
She's resisting, but I'll have my way in the end.

June 1, 2012 at 6:53 AM  
Blogger PansWife said...

Front lawns are often the best place for vegetable gardens since houses are ideally placed to face Southeast. Two good books just to get rid of lawn are Growing More Than Grass by by Liz Primeau and Beautiful No Mow Yards by Evelyn J. Hadden. Of course, nothing is wrong with just leaving it for pasture.

June 1, 2012 at 7:04 AM  
Anonymous Miller said...

WE never put chemicals on the "lawn". It was always left to its own devices.

June 1, 2012 at 7:34 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

No offense meant, Millers. I should clarify: no fertilizers, sprays, or pest control done by human intervention on the landscaping.

June 1, 2012 at 7:40 AM  
Blogger Back Achres said...

We have always referred to this as a country lawn. Although that implies never having been domesticated, just mowing the pasture around the house. Even using the lawn mower to level the bumps(ouch).

June 1, 2012 at 7:43 AM  
Blogger Back Achres said...

We have always referred to this as a country lawn. Although that implies never having been domesticated, just mowing the pasture around the house. Even using the lawn mower to level the bumps(ouch).

June 1, 2012 at 7:44 AM  
Blogger Kris said...

I fertilized our lawn one time way back when we lived in town. Just one time. I was mowint that grass every few days that summer. Never again. And since we've been here, I use nothing but natural animal manure for everything. And we have alot of the same things in our "lawn" too. Right now, my meat birds are on the "pasture" next door at our little house. Growing like pigs, they are. I let the sheep over there too, to help mow. And my goal is also to not even have to mow at all.

Isn't that so cool when you actually do look at something for the first time after having seen that same thing for years?

June 1, 2012 at 7:54 AM  
Blogger daisy said...

I am so envious of your natural pasture. Someday...

June 1, 2012 at 8:05 AM  
Blogger Stacey said...

We're very anti-manicured-lawn around here, too. We don' t fertilize or kill weeds at all. A lot of our lawn is still grass, but it also has clover, dandelions, moss, and ferns mixed in. We also just let one of the hilly bits go to seed, so that's starting to fill in with wild flowers. Sooo much better than golf course perfection.

June 1, 2012 at 8:52 AM  
Blogger Lorlee said...

I had a friend whose motto was "If it's green, mow it"

and it always looks fine whether it is grass or other things.

June 1, 2012 at 10:26 AM  
Blogger Lorlee said...

I had a friend whose motto was "If it's green, mow it"

and it always looks fine whether it is grass or other things.

June 1, 2012 at 10:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

engestorWhat you now have is Ecco Lawn - rich, juicy, durable, vibrant. Chicken's delight!

June 1, 2012 at 10:52 AM  
Blogger Lara said...

My dad went through a phase while I was growing up (aided by Bacardi) where he wanted this picturesque yard with tightly mowed grass. He showed my sister and me a picture of this country house in a magazine and told us to get at it. All we had was a push mower and the two of us agreed to do hour shifts to make it fair. Each mowing session took no less than 5 hours no kidding since the yard he was talking about was really a little plot in front and back of the house and then a nice sized bumpy area more like a pasture and the ditch up to the gravel road. It did make Dad very happy…but after about two months of this my sister and I were in the middle of one of these hot and sweaty mowing sessions with the finicky mower when we realized what morons we were. Nobody but us ever went by our very rural house and all this grass was worth something. That’s when we made rope halters and started parking the cows on the “lawn”. I remember the two of us being very proud of our ingenuity. To make sure Dad was happy we even got little brother to scatter the pies that were visible up by the road and drive. Later on horses joined the cows in the summertime. Dad had his little front and back yard area, but he never protested much about the rest since it saved pasture grass and cut down on hay usage. Haven’t mowed much since then.

June 1, 2012 at 11:14 AM  
Blogger Kristen said...

Jamie and Claire have been with me through many chores, as well as many a long drive or boring afternoon. I'm not usually into the idea of multitasking but in this case, it feels more like being able to be in two places at the same time. In a good way.

June 1, 2012 at 12:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this post! I can't abide lawns but pastures are different. I love that you don't spray and so do the fireflies!

I can't believe it's been 3 summers! You probably feel the same.

Keep up the great if hard work!


June 1, 2012 at 1:01 PM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

sounds like my yard. i learned quickly when i purchased a reel push mower my "yard" was not what it was intended for. that reel cut about 1/4 of the grass, the rest sprung right back up after the reel passed over it. it was immediately returned. unless ones lawn mimics the grass in a golf course those reel mowers don't do much!

June 1, 2012 at 3:07 PM  
Blogger Why's woman said...

Hi Jenna,

I love your excitement! Thanks for the post.

I'm almost positive you've written about Rebecca Hoskins' documentary Farm for the Future, but I'll mention it to you again because it's always worth a 4th look, and because you'll recall it has a lovely segment about the thick mat that develops when a pasture is growing a wide mix of plants appropriate to the soil/climate ... and is able to handle trample by cattle year 'round. I hope this YouTube url works properly.
If not, it's easy enough to find the doc.
Very kind regards! Why's Woman

June 1, 2012 at 7:12 PM  
Anonymous cowgirl said...

Is this the same "Meredith A" that bashes Jenna on her own blog? I'm hoping that you've had a change of heart!!??

Jenna is a pretty good farmer.

June 1, 2012 at 8:13 PM  
Blogger lazytoadfarm said...

Sounds a lot like our "lawn"!

June 1, 2012 at 10:15 PM  
Blogger KiwiGirl said...

I am married to an ex-greenkeeper, so it's manicured perfection at our place all the way. Still, I do like a wilder lawn than the golfer in the house does, but I'd pass on nettles.

June 2, 2012 at 6:04 AM  
Blogger Elaine P said...

@cowgirl: Meredith A is a very wise, experienced and knowledgeable farmer in her own right. I've found many useful tips as well as factual and comprehensive information on her blog.

June 2, 2012 at 6:49 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Sounds lush & wonderful Jenna... especially for your feathered friends! I, too, am currently enjoying Jaimie & Claire's adventures in Paris...eels anyone? ;) My question is, what on earth will I do when I finish this series?! They've become a part of my life! lol

June 2, 2012 at 10:08 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth from the Berkshires said...

Amy--just start over at the beginning and listen to the series again. It's so dense with story you can't absorb it all in one reading, anyway.

June 2, 2012 at 7:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your point?

June 3, 2012 at 12:09 AM  

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