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*this* John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘fields

Final Step

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It starts out as luscious green grass. The horses eat it and their bodies process it. They spread it on the ground for me to scoop up and shape into big piles. In the piles, microorganisms take action and the temperature climbs to around 160° (F). Eventually, things settle down and the pile cools.

At that point, it’s ready for use feeding growing things which puts that luscious green back where it came from at the start. The final step is loading some bags for sharing our wealth with others.

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My project yesterday was a little more involved than usual after the chickens showed up to offer assistance. Their version of helping seems to always involve getting as much in the way as they possibly can. I tried negotiating with them, but it seems as though they don’t understand English.

Compost work was interrupted by lunch, after which our attention shifted to the north pasture. With Cyndie assisting, we pulled the posts with a chain and the loader bucket of the diesel tractor, which cleared the way for me to mow the overgrown field.

Well, not exactly. The evergreen trees in that field have gotten so big, the tractor doesn’t fit between many of them anymore. It becomes a maze of weaving around groups of trees that are often too close together to provide easy weaving.

It was certainly more trouble than I could manage, in terms of getting the field to look decently mowed. I did achieve a wonderful version of the ‘bad haircut.’

The night ended with a small setback, as the chickens made their way into the tree over the compost piles again before we could entice them to the coop. It seems as though the training for that may not have a final step, but will be a repeating exercise for some time to come.

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Written by johnwhays

July 15, 2017 at 6:00 am

Sticky Sweet

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IMG_3672eOur three chestnuts had their heads out when I visited the barn on Thursday. Legacy was turned around with his butt to the door. We are so grateful to have this barn with stalls. It is obvious to us that they are, too. We have never once had any of them make a fuss over being confined inside.

Yesterday, everyone was back outside in the sunshine, after the fog burned off. Cyndie surprised me with a last-minute suggestion that we go out for breakfast before she went to work. It was the first day of a local syrup farm’s open house event, and they were serving pancakes with fresh blueberries!

They also provide free maple-syrup sundaes, so I had ice cream for dessert first thing in the morning, too. It was pure sticky, sweet goodness.

We learned last year that you can bring your own containers and purchase syrup at a discount. We bought a gallon in two Ball jars, brought from home. It’s that good, and it’s easy to keep. Since it wasn’t sealed in these containers, we’ll refrigerate it.

We are still “new” folks here, meaning we weren’t born and raised in the area, and that shows when you attend an event like this where everyone else knows each other well. Since it was a weekday, the primary crowd we encountered were retirees and their parents. I’m sure we appeared out of place, but we were doted on just the same.

After pancakes, Cyndie dashed off to work, leaving me to chat about the syrup season (it was average), and the art and science of knowing when to start tapping trees. If you try too early, while time passes until the sap runs, the tree will have been busy healing the spot where the tap was inserted. If you start too late, you miss some of the sweetest, best sap for syrup.

I killed a little time in the morning, working indoors while waiting for things to dry out as much as possible, then headed out to see if I could mow more of the fields. It was borderline, as some spots still have standing water.ForecastImage I forged ahead regardless and ended up cutting what I could, working around the wettest spots. Based on the forecast, it could be my last chance to mow for quite a while…

Just as predicted, the rain has brought out the greenest of greens in the lawn and portion of the back grazing field where I did the first cutting last week. It makes it look like the areas cut yesterday don’t match, but I’m confident they will come around soon enough. I was concerned that these remaining areas all had thicker grass already, and that is causing more piles of cuttings that get left behind. This should become less obvious before long, though.

I’m all about the aesthetic impression aligning with my goal of better grass. I believe this will improve the forage in our fields, but at the very least, I would like it to look like improved forage. If nothing more, I would enjoy having that justification for spending all this time out there trying to mow farm acres with a lawn tractor.

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Written by johnwhays

April 26, 2014 at 8:02 am

Brush Hoggin’

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After the excitement of having our hay-field cut by a team of 3 horses last week, we were very happy to learn that our neighbor got 1 and 1/2 wagon loads of bales out of it. That is a good result. He has inspired us to consider keeping the front field for cutting hay, instead of using it as pasture. He said it would save us a lot of money if we are able to produce our own hay.

cuttingHe only cut the front field, so I needed to knock down the uncut growth on the back portion. There used to be a fence between the two, but that is now gone, so I was able to make a clean line by cutting straight through, making the fields look like one. By cutting the back field, we can get rid of the weeds, and let more grass come through. Hopefully, we can include that portion when it comes time for the second hay cut of the season.

I also needed to trim portions of the front field where he wasn’t able to steer the horses precisely enough to avoid missing spots. Now it is all ready to grow into an excellent second crop.

We have learned that the second cut is a much better hay, for our purposes. Not all hay is alike, and what we have growing on our property should be just what we want to have. The first cut commonly includes more grass that has grown tall and develops a woody stem. Some of that won’t grow back a second time. What will grow in after the cut will be more of the soft, wide blades.

The key to how much of our fields we cut for hay in the long run will be, what portion of our fields do we need for pasture. If we are lucky, and manage things well, we should have just the right balance to support our goal of keeping 4 horses. I don’t think we’ll really know for sure until we get them here and see what they eat.

I’m looking forward to that, because then I won’t have to do so much dang brush hogging. You know how much I dislike cutting grass!

Written by johnwhays

July 16, 2013 at 7:00 am