I guess it is not really strange how each spring I fight the same battles I have fought each spring since we have been here.
Well maybe not exactly the same. Is it possible my ongoing problems are self induced. Could I be continuing to do the same things over and over again and just hoping for different results?
The first few years we did not have cattle and we did not have any grazing land either so the ongoing battle with buttercups did not exist. Oh we had a few goats but their requirements for the tons of forage was not the same as the cattle. Not to mention that goats, if given the choice, prefer a lot of the things that grow not so close to the ground and don’t put the pressure on the pasture that cattle do.
But now I do have cows. Dexter cattle. One of the smaller breeds! We picked them for several reasons but one of the main one is the fact that they are small and because of the smaller size we have smaller grazing needs. They are about half the size and they eat about half as much so this should allow us to have a few even on our small acreage Hobby Farm. That was the reasoning at least.
The reality? Even knowing the pasture we had would not be sufficient I bought two young animals with the intention that by the time they were ready to reproduce I would have more grass ready for them. It occurs to me at this point that there is an old saying, something, about the best laid plans of mice and men.
The cow did fulfill their purpose but I on the other hand fell short on my end of the plans.
Still we are overgrazing. A condition caused by either too much livestock or too little pasture. OR BOTH. Which seems to be the case with most of the land owners around here. Both large and small holdings. No I do not think I am unique in my shortcomings.
Buttercups are a small close to the ground vegetation that gets a foothold when the grasses are cut or grazed so close as to give them a early spring start on the grasses and much like any other kind of pest in life once a toehold is gained very difficult to get rid of. Oh they are pretty! Acres and acres of bright yellow bloom waving in the spring breezes. They are also toxic to most grass eating animals as well and can cause blood in the milk of cows if ingested heavily causing the calf to eat less or not at all and begin grazing on it’s own at too young an age. Of course they too will be eating the buttercup since by this time that must be about all that is available or mom would not have been eating it to cause the problem! See unlike us humans animals tend to avoid that which harms them.
The solution? Let’s start with the quick fix. The one that must be used right now, whether you want to or not. Herbicide. Broad leaf weed killers. Effective for a quick knock down if applied correctly and reportedly will not harm the environment. An option I do not prefer but which will hopefully allow the good grasses and other forage to grow and provide good forage for our animals. This may well require the repeated application of fertilizer and maybe lime as well. Maybe even more than one application of the weed control agent of your choice.
Remember that soil test that has been put off for years? It will tell us what is needed nutrient wise at least. Of course this brings about the decision of whether to go with granular or liquid in your soil amenities. http://hobbyfarmlife.com/hobby-farm-soil-ammendments-what-how-much-why/
Our goal here of course is to get enough grass growing that we meet the needs of our animals without overgrazing and starting this process all over again next spring. Short term at least. Long term? Finish clearing our land to take advantage of the potential grazing we have and be smart enough to keep our herd down to where our pasture is sufficient for our needs.
MY OPINION? You would really have to work at it to start each day with a better view than this.
OH HELL if we are going to dream let’s shoot for planting the grasses need to help nature help itself improve and maintain the land so we don’t need to add the extras each year. That and living in a house that the bank doesn’t own part of would definitely make me feel like I am accomplishing something.
How about you? What are you shooting for.
Bob; We will keep the gate open for you.