Tag Archives: soil

The Big Till

As a first step of my endophyte infected fescue eradication and pasture renovation project, today was the big day of tillage.  My husband had purchased a Howard Rotavator 600, which is 10 foot wide sod-cutting and chewing machine and the soil (actually just dirt, it’s in pathetic condition) it’s been through gave it a real workout.  Even the tractor couldn’t keep up and i had to sidle over and only take 2′-5′ bite of new sod at times, especially going up hill.  This first pass took place on May 17-18, 2017.

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Here my husband has been running the equipment to make sure everything was working.  I’m getting ready for my dual.  Operating new equipment is always an uneasy step for me!
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The ‘soil’ more like dirt because it’s so dead is very compacted and lots of clay making for a lot of overlapping.  I even killed the tractor a couple times because there was simply not enough power to pull the machine.  I quickly learnt how much ‘bite’ the machinery could take so the John Deere 4250 would not be overwhelmed.
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The Howard Rotavator 600.  Here’s a link to a video of the rotavator in operation.
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My soil hasn’t been tilled since at least the early 1960’s.  It’s compacted with little to no life in it.  Just dirt.  The  hope is to allow water and other nutrient infiltration to encourage forage growth.  This is an example of first pass.

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One pass tillage next to existing stand of grass.  Serious clay content.  Methinks some of this worked up harder than if i took down the gravel road!

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Plenty of big rocks (these are some of the smaller ones) to make the machine go ‘klunk’!
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My office for a total of 8 hours.  Allen ran it for about 4 hours. 

All in all, i mapped out about 18 acres actually tilled.  There are about 25 acres total in the area being renovated, however, because of the steep slopes, several acres are left alone to serve as grassy waterways.  I wonder, however, as hard as the ground is, if the tilled portions won’t actually hold and stop more water than the hard pan waterways.  Hmmm.

So far, 12 hours spent (1.5 acres per hour) tilling, but not counting time servicing tractor and machine or time spent getting to/from the farm.  Tractor uses about 7.7 gallons diesel fuel per hour, so 92.5 gallons there.  Second pass should take a bit less time, but we’ll see!

We received a big storm last night with about an inch of rain, so the second pass won’t happen for a few days – depending on weather.  Allen will be right behind the second rotatiller pass with the Einbach harrow/seeder and my selected annual grass mix.

Per acre healing forages:

  1.  6 lbs buckwheat
  2.  6 lbs lespedeza
  3.  3 lbs pearl millet
  4. 12 lbs oats
  5.  6 lbs cowpeas
  6.  5 lbs sunflower
  7.  2 lbs red clover

These were chosen for their prolification, adaptability to poor soils, nitrogen fixing, and low cost as well as providing excellent grazing in 60-75 days.

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Grass waterways left to slow water during rains until the rest has forage established.
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Not a clear photograph, but a better idea of leaving waterways.
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On the far slope, the rows would have been so short that a lot of time would have been spent just turning around, so i chose to strip till through and across low and high spots.  Time will tell if that was the right decision.
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View from my office. 😉

Bright Sunshine!

That forecasted rain hit about 9:30 pm and just poured for about 5 minutes – storm over.  The Mizzou game in Columbia, MO, however, looked like miseryfor a LONG time – it didn’t help that the hometown team lost badly.

Today dawned clear and bright and i managed to clean the frig, wash a load of laundry, feed the calves, wash windows, and start the oven cleaning before the day got started.

Paperwork has been gathered for my trip to Chillicothe in the afternoon to the license bureau.   Allen and I had planned to purchase the pickup through bartering, however, i found out at the license bureau that that can only be done throught a dealership!  No private transactions.  That doesn’t sound fair.  So, of course, i had to pay sales tax after all.  The inspection for the pickup resulted in a $600 repair bill!!

I took some photos of an old McCormick International seed drill that I listed for sale on Powell Seed Farm, Inc facebook page.  It is old and small by today’s standards, but it would be perfect for someone starting out or for use in grass paddock improvements.

Stopped in Meadville at my friend’s house and we had a serious heart to heart visit.  I cannot imagine going through life without a close friend with whom each can share our joys, concerns, and heartaches.

Slow late afternoon since i’d allowed plenty of time for the license bureau, yet i was in and out in less than half an hour!  Fed the calves, worked on my chicken tractor (this is my 9th design and build of chicken tractors and eggmobiles).  I’ve been at the chicken tractor for months, but it’s the lowest item on my priority list, so I seldom have time to piddle around with it.  Had hoped to have it done before i butcher our last 14 hens so as to see if it works, but that may not happen.  Might get chicks next spring, but might not.  I may just enjoy not having extra chores, but it’s fun building stuff – it just won’t get used.

Shabbat Shalom!

tauna

Holistic Management Decision Making

Super intro to Holistic Management!

Creating the Farm and Life You Want With Holistic Management

Holistic management testing questions

HOLISTIC MANAGEMENT A WHOLE-FARM DECISION MAKING FRAMEWORK

Even though I’ve known about and used the testing questions for many years, too many times, i go ahead a purchase a band-aid which does nothing but make my work harder and negatively affect my quality of life and that of those i love the most.  While holistic management terms have been used mostly in farm and home circles, the precepts can be applied to most any business.

Good starter questions are:  Why am i doing this job?  If I can let nature do the job, then why am I not letting that happen?  Is there a better way?

Do you have daily repetitive chores?  You can probably get rid of them and not only save a tremendous amount of time, but also considerable out-of-pocket money.  Especially if they are non-income producing time-suckers.  Pets are notorious for this, but also having too many unrelated income streams.

For example, unless you have work horses (even then you’d better know your costs!), the time spent caring for and feeding them is astronomical with absolutely no return!  (unless you are using them for pleasure and have time to do so).  Horses consume 2% to 2.5% dry matter to the body weight or about 21 lbs for a 1000 lb horse.  About the same as a cow.  However, the cow is producing a calf on that same ration.  So, while feeding three horses you could be feeding three cows with the resultant calf sale each year which at current levels is about $1000 per calf.  If you spend 10 minutes a day feeding and watering the horses, in the course of one year, you’ve spent the equivalent of 60.8 hours!  How much productive work could you get done in 60 hours!  So, 60 hours times $15/hour is $900 plus feed, pasture rent, hay costs, water, vaccinations, hoof trimming, emergency vet costs.  You can figure your own costs, but a full-service boarding facility for a 12×12 stall is $250/month per horse (includes turnout and water/feed/hay) or $9000 per year for three horses.  This does not include farrier or vet services.  Pasture only boarding is $160/month, but you would need to care for the horse yourself.  What about tack, training, grooming?  Add up the costs and time.

In a continuous grazing situation, horses will do more damage to the stand of forage than cattle and even sheep in some respects because not only can they nip the new growth to the ground like sheep, but they are heavier and each step carries more weight per square inch than a sheep.  This often leads to pugging in soft pastures.  In other words, horses can destroy a pasture in no time at all.  As Penn State Extension puts it: “turning horses out on pasture should not start until the grass has reached a height of 6 inches, and should be stopped when grass has been grazed down to 2 to 3 inches.”  and “this grazing strategy (continuous) often results in overgrazing,…. The bad thing about this system, it allows horses to be very selective. Horses repeatedly graze the best-tasting plants. This stresses plants beyond their ability to survive. Pasture is never allowed to recover from grazing. In time pastures are soon turned into dry lots where only weeds will grow.”  Penn State’s recommendations are very basic, but a helpful start into learning about managed grazing.

Here’s a good starter article for pasture maintenance:  Care & Feeding of Overgrazed Pastures

This is just one example,  use the test questions against everything you do, gather information, and make the right decision!

Set goals, use the test questions, then really, really wait before buying work or any inputs.  If you need training to help you identify problems and what is a symptom, then get help!  Don’t spin your wheels getting nothing done or worse, digging a deeper hole and remaining confused by why you aren’t getting ahead.  Ask!  But if you are not ready to implement what you learn or make changes, then don’t waste your money or other people’s time.

HMI Testing Questions

Resources from Holistic Management International!

Creating Healthy Soil

Free Downloads

You and I won’t agree with all of HMI’s ideas, but there is a ton of good information and help for getting you started in a new business, established business, or life in general.

Shalom!

tauna