With the unseasonably warm days we had in the beginning of November, we put some of our other work (including some of the kids’ studies) aside and got to work improving our rear pasture.
The rear pasture is about 1.25 acres and “rough” to say the least. Based on the size of the poisonous pin cherries throughout the pasture, we figure the pasture has been let go for a good 5-10 years. We’d previously cleared about a quarter to third of it, and then broadcast spread winter rye seed on that area. Despite the very suboptimal conditions, the seed has taken relatively well, though not nearly as vigorously as other areas on the property with better soil and preparation.
Over the past week, we got working on the next bit. The easiest part was cutting down about 20 cherry trees and white pines of various sizes, cutting the larger stuff for the firewood pile while my wife and kids drug the slash to the burn piles. I also cut up a large white birch the beavers had dropped a bit further down the hill. More on them in a future post.
Meanwhile, as I was at work, my wife and kids got to pulling stumps, filling holes, and moving rocks. We’ve got a lot of rocks – it’s not called the Granite State without reason. Even with the help of the tractor, it’s a lot of work.
I’ve helped a bit, but most of the work on the wall we’re starting to build at the edge of the pasture is due to their efforts. It gives us a new appreciation for the sturdy farmers who built the thousands of miles of rock walls 200+ years ago without farm machinery.
Our hope is to have enough pasture clear by next spring to have three 1/2 acre paddocks to rotate (two in the front pasture, one in the rear). That will still require some supplemental hay to avoid overgrazing, but will be a lot better than our current situation and make for healthier and more productive pastures in the future. The seeding plan for the back pasture is to follow the Winter Rye with a good layer of manure and reseeding with Japanese Millet in the summer, then rotate back and forth between the two for at least one more year to break up the weed growth cycle before we move on to more traditional forages. In a few years, I would like to have a solid Orchardgrass and White Clover pasture established there.