Last evening, as I was cutting open a couple of round bales of hay in the front field for the cattle, I could see little bits of green in the pasture field just waiting for some sunshine and heat to start growing – just in time for St. Patrick’s Day.
Well, thinking of lush green grass is a little ambitious, this time of year, but it won’t be long before we start to see some pasture regrowth for 2010. That also gave me a mental reminder to check out the results of our great round bale self-seeding experiment from last year.
Back in the late spring, we were left with a number of hay bales made with pretty mature hay. That means it had more stalks and seedheads than lush, appetizing, nutritious plant leaves. The cattle still like it for scratch, and there is protein, after all, in the seeds themselves. So, wanting to get the most out of the hay, we took to driving the tractor down into the floor of the rather sandy back ravine. There, I’d cut the strings and roll out the bales, one at a time, in a big long ribbon.
The cattle like having lots of room to get at the feed, and I am hoping that at the same time they were able to spread out those grass seeds, trample them into the soil a little, and at the same time fertilize them for this spring. It has worked to a limited degree in the past around the sites of the round bale feeders but this is the first we have tried in on a wider (literally) scale.
It’s inspired in part by reading Wendell Berry, and by talking with an OMAFRA pasture advisor at 2009 Farmers’ Week in Innisfil. The OMAFRA guy recommended reseeding worn out pasture fields by feeding cattle mineral with clover seed mixed in and letting the cattle do the spreading. Berry has lots of similar ideas of leaving the bulk of the work to the livestock.
Right now, four remaining market hogs are out there hard at work giving the whole area a quick once-over, lightly working in the hayseed with the residue of the hay bales. Of course, the grass seeds don’t like to be planted too deep at all, so we’ll have to keep an eye on it all.
I hope over the next month we can find some sign of new green coming up in the old ravine. Keep your fingers crossed.
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