Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Pasture sytems go!

My phone doesn't take the grandest photos, but what we have here is the last three pasture rotations. Foreground is about to be opened to new grazing, middle ground is current grazing, and the next field out is regrowth from the last grazing. I cannot believe how fast the pasture springs back with growth after the pigs have tilled her. At three weeks rest it is almost regrown. If you were to see closely you would notice that the pigs don't leave the ground level. They dig all kinds of peaks and valleys. For the first replanting (in addition to the pasture that regrows on it's own) We have broadcasted sugar beets in the peaks, and buckwheat in the low spots. The buckwheat will create allot of biomass, as well as rich forage, while helping to fill in. We hope the beets will lure the pigs to re level the high points next pass through. If the birds leave the seeds in the ground, and the pigs cooperate - it will be a pretty cool system without need of machinery. No machinery outside of the sickle bar mower I use to mow the fence line at least. Pasture samples were lab tested at 20% protein, try to buy commercial feed that dense. Now that the grass is in seed the protein is lower, but morning glory is running rampant, and making up for it, and the pigs go crazy for the morning glory. When I get a chance I try to cut a little and hand ensile pasture for leaner days. So far the silage is a delicacy to the pigs, so that may play into winter plans for these guys if I can figure out how manage the large quantities without braking my spine. In general I like the pigs to pick their own grass. We are getting ready to breed our first 100% mulefoot pair in a week or so, and rethinking the breeds for our production girls. The 50% mulefoot piglets are growing fast, and are lightening quick little guys. They are like watching furry little pin balls bounce around. Carrie next door at Little Eorthe farm is helping us plan out our seed saving field for our heirloom "Mammoth Red Mangle" beets. These monsters grow up to 20 pounds, and likely will be an important part of our winter forage systems in the future. We are growing seed, because it takes a mortgage to buy them, and also they are very rare and hard to get. We have had some challenges recently with organic wormers. We had been using diatomatious earth, which was not working internally. If anyone out there in interweb land has had success with natural remedies, I would love to talk shop. Other than that we are loving being on site. Carrie Little just tilled our family garden for us and Tahoma Farms gave us a bunch of starts to put in. With neighbors like these we may just have to stick around for a while.

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