Back to Writing! – Clearing of Forest Pastures

Today, I am back to writing on my blog at a normal schedule. I haven’t written in a while due to My Mom and I, being busy with big projects preparing for our spring piglet litters and the holidays. But I am going to get back into it and write about all of our projects and continue my Kunekune bloodline posts.

I am going to write a two part post about the clearing of our forest pastures and fencing it in. Today I am going to write about clearing the area.

This was our second major expansion in under a year. I can’t wait to see what our next year in farming has in store for us. We want to expand more into the forest and create multiple forest pastures for barrows and boars.

We hired Jordan Vick to clear out all the pine trees in the area. He cut down forty-five pine trees. I was surprised about how big they were and how a little skid steer could topple one of them. We decided to remove the pine trees since they serve no purpose in a forest pasture. They don’t provide any food, barely any shade and they are a very weak wood. They can break or fall over from weather and they have a short life cycle.

He hauled away all the pines and moved most of the brush for us into a big pile. We have been moving logs and brush into burn piles in the pastures for the past few months and we are making good progress.

Below are some photos of the clearing of the pasture area. The area has changed from a dense forest and will soon be a beautiful pasture. Our farm looks very different after the clearing. It was very awkward when I was outside and I wasn’t used to a once dense area being cleared out. I have gotten used to it and I like the change

Tomorrow I will be writing about the fencing in the pasture!

 

 

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Forest Pasture Expansion

When we bought our land, we originally thought we would have a couple pigs and chickens but we have the opposite. We are starting to raise more pigs out for pork and we don’t have enough pasture space or a big enough budget to deforest an area or buy more pasture land. So we are going to work with what we have.

We are going to make multiple forest pastures for growing out barrows. We are going to clear out all the dead and small trees and plant forage mix where the natural grass is growing. We want to start feeding our pigs organic feed but it is very expensive. So having alternate feed sources like acorns, hickory nuts, fodder , natural grasses, grubs and bugs would help lower our feed costs. With the leftover scrap wood from all the trees we cut down we are going to use them for raised garden beds for our back and front yard. With all the produce we grow we will feed the pigs while lowering our feed costs.

The garden beds we are making are called Hugelkultur beds. They are raised beds made up of stacking old wood, manure, compost and dirt into long straight beds. We will have so much wood and already have so much pig poop we will have a ton of these beds growing sweet potatoes, squash and other plants to feed to the pigs. We are going to put these beds in our backyard since they will be very close to the pigs and I won’t need to cut grass if we could ever get it to grow.

We can also use the wood for wood chips for farrowing stalls, chickens runs and the garden. We can also use it for firewood to keep our house warm in the winter.

I can’t wait till we have these forest pastures ready. I think they are an amazing place for growing out barrows. They are super shady, natural wallows and delicious things to eat. I think it will turn out amazing.

Fall/Winter Farming Goals

My Mom and I have a lot of thing we have to do on the farm this winter. But it is so hot out besides the morning when we do our smaller chores.  So we are saving our bigger projects for when it is cool out.

Pigs:

  1. Continue working on pasture management
  2. Keep accurate health records and keep up on vaccinations.
  3. Plan future breedings.

Chickens: 

To save money, we are going to process our barred rocks, so we won’t be feeding them when they aren’t laying in the winter. We collected some of their eggs. We have the silkies hatching them right now. In the spring they should start laying.

Sell hatching eggs and baby chicks from our Lavender Ameraucanas. Use the money to pay for chicken feed.

Lilac Heritage Turkeys:

  1. We are getting another lilac hen for a trio.
  2. Keep moving them around in the chicken tractor.
  3. Collect all the turkey eggs that we can so we can hatch turkey poults.
  4. Raise the lilac turkeys and process the other colors.

Blanc De Hotot Rabbits:

  1. Have our first litters of kits. Raise all the best quality rabbits for breeding and the not as good ones for meat.

We bred one doe already and we are waiting to see if she is pregnant. We will breed the other doe when she is ready.

 Cortunix Quail:

  1. Keep hatching baby quail and process the older not needed males.

Building:

  1. Completely re-do the electric fence.
  2. Finish the other 3 chicken tractors.
  3. Add a hog panel divider in between  every pasture.
  4. Finish greenhouse.
  5. Get gutters and lean twos on the car port.
  6. Maybe? french drains.
  7. Better shade structures.
  8. Create two more wooded pastures.
  9. Revamp our second farrowing stall.
  10. Revamp our water barrel waterers.

 

Getting the Pastures Ready for Fall

Today I am going to write about the pasture management My Mom and I have been doing over the past few weeks.

Our pastures haven’t been the best this summer. They are filled with weeds due to how acidic the soil is from pine trees being there originally. It also didn’t help that it didn’t rain at all when we seeded them and then birds came and ate most of it. Daily, we have been pulling out the worst weeds to ever exist- sickle pod and horse nettle. We have pulled out countless gravel bags of sickle pod , filled the wheel barrow up and dumped it into the woods or taken it to the dump. Sickle pod is very toxic to livestock.

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To make less weeds grow in our pastures, we have been adding agricultural lime to them. Adding lime to a pasture is very important as it:

  •  Raises soil pH making it less acidic
  • It increases nutrients availability and stimulates microbial & earthworm activity
  • Lime decreases the availability of toxic elements
  • It helps stabilize soil structure with the addition of calcium

Normal powdered agricultural lime requires a expensive agricultural spreader to work. So we bought fast acting pelletized lime. This is different from regular pelletized lime as it works faster. It should start to take effect when it gets wet. Hopefully it does its job. We added 640 pounds to our first pasture and 600 to the second. Next summer we will have our soil tested to figure out what we need to add for better pasture health. We are adding lime for now as it is the most used way to increase soil health.

Our two back pastures are very nice, they also have barely any weeds. This is due to the previous owner of the land tilling and liming the area regularly. I hope we can get our front two pastures like them.

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In the fall we will be seeding our pastures again with a  pasture seed called Kentucky 32 fescue, oat grass, red clover, and a forage mix containing a blend of brassicas, clover, field peas, turnip. Kentucky 32 withstands heat and drought and its vigorous growth beats weeds, diseases, insect infestations and it is Endophyte free. Endophytes are a fungi that are transmitted through the seeds to the  grass or plant. It is toxic to insects. It is toxic to livestock so you don’t want to seed a pasture with anything that contains endophyte.

Our goal for the pastures it to kill off the weeds and always have a new seed growing in so the animals always have something to eat. With a lot of work it will eventually happen.