Catching up…

by David

…is hard to do. Over the years we have spent a lot of time, effort (and money) on our pastures.

The results have been gratifying and we reached a point where even seed and fertilizer salesmen were at a loss to recommend anything else.
Thistlehill Farm Pastures
But now four years of neglect caused by health issues are seeming to take their toll. The heavy rains, flooding and pugging did their best (worst), too. Weeds have moved in and there could be still more next spring filling in bare spots.

Actually from afar the pastures look pretty good…but we do want to measure now and hold some pastures back as we try several approaches. At the least we’ve decided to do what is required and review at each step before moving forward.

Liming is a no-brainer…with pH at 5.5 straight across our 15 pastures we’re adding a ton of lime per acre now and will probably add another ton in the spring. Our target pH is 6.5.

Fertilization is an option we’ve set aside for the moment. We are firm believers in natural farming and while the Coop and State Ag people are recommending 50 pounds of nitrogen per acre, we are not convinced. So we plan to top seed white and red clover in later winter.

As for the bare spots, right now we are putting down Ryman annual rye and a little cereal rye. This was our toughest decision and I look forward to the results on this one.

Finally we are switching our mineral program back to the cafeteria style approach of Advanced Biological Concepts.

That’s a lot of moving parts but we have seen in the past that money we invest in our pastures is well-repaid in the health and vitality of our animals and in the ease of breeding and calving.

We’re interested in your reactions and experiences and invite your comments and we’ll keep you posted along the way.