Need advice on re-establishing neglected pasture

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by dk_40207, May 13, 2006.

  1. dk_40207

    dk_40207 Well-Known Member

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    We have decided to start the reclaiming process of about 3 acres of long neglected pasture. It has grown up with goldenrod, small cedars, thistle, grass, wild cherries, some sort of ground cherry looking weed, and various other plants.

    We have started mowing and scything the 8 ft tall bramble bushes.

    My question would be, I guess, where to go from here:) Is there any way to supress the seeds that have been falling there for years? Should we plow and seed right away, or try to supress what is there? Anything else?

    We plan to use some for pasture and some for large crops like wheat, corn, fodder etc.

    The soil is clay, compacted(used to be buffalo pasture), and gently rolling. The water runnoff has made some grooves between weed patches, that go down to a "dip" in the land that runs off into a neighbors yard, and then to the river.

    Thanks in advance!

    Derek and Christina

    Indiana0.
     
  2. Obser

    Obser "Mobile Homesteaders"

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    DK, can you arrange to safely (and perhaps legally) burn the “pasture”? Is it reasonable to hire someone with a brush hog? Plowing and disking the field after either would give you a fresh start.

    An alternative might be to put goats on the land for as long as necessary to remove unwanted vegetation.

    If there are any commercial poultry farms nearby their "clean-out" is great for improving neglected soil.

    It might pay to talk to your county agent, agricultural extension service about local practices -- and ask for suggestions and references – and about erosion control.
     

  3. dk_40207

    dk_40207 Well-Known Member

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    I don't think that burning is an option. The land was sudivided into long, somewhat narrow plots, so we have houses close by. I will look into it, though.

    There are many poultry houses nearby, as a huge tyson plant is only 15 miles away....I'll see if we can contact some.

    We had a guy come out about a brush hog, and he wanted over $100, so we are going about it by ourselves.

    I would love to have goats clear it! However it is not fenced in. We do plan to use goat fence on about 1/4 to 1/2 acre this summer, but want to establish some decent pasture first.

    Thanks!
     
  4. Freeholder

    Freeholder Well-Known Member

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    Goats don't need and won't benefit from decent pasture -- why don't you get a few now and use them to eat the brush and weeds? (Edited to add: goats will need some hay, clean water, and a loose goat mineral supplement, plus shelter -- you can't just throw them out on a weed patch and expect them to do well.)

    Actually, a hundred dollars to brushhog three acres is a good price.

    The best thing you could do for the portion you plan to use for pasture is to use management intensive grazing on it. Rotating sheep, goats, or cattle (after the brush is gone) through small paddocks will improve the land and the vegetation without you doing much of anything else to it at all. You should have a soil test done, and see if you need to lime (the cedars usually indicate acid soil).

    Kathleen
     
  5. dk_40207

    dk_40207 Well-Known Member

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    Well, we actually have three Saanens. I know they are more browsers, and like the weeds over nice grass:) We plan to sow some of their favorites and intensively graze it like you said, Kathleee. We would like to graze the goats, then a cow behind them, but we don't have the cow yet:)
    Christina
     
  6. Farmer Willy

    Farmer Willy Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Mow off all the big brush now, let your goats enjoy it till later in the summer. I'd spray it in early august to kill any vegatation left. Allow 3-4 weeks for seeds to resprout and hit it again. Ad lime ect. as determined by soil test. By early Sept. you should be able to reseed and get a good stand going before winter.
     
  7. m39fan

    m39fan Acres of Blessing Farm

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    Christina,
    Drop me a PM with your aprox. location. We may be able to help as we were in the same situation and ended up having to buy a tractor. If you're close enough......

    Take Care,
    Mike and Raenel
     
  8. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    $100 was pretty good deal.

    Are you opposed to spraying? Makes a difference in how to approach this.

    Is any grass growing there now? Would you prefer to let the current grass come back in, or would you prefer to plow it up & start over with your own species of grass(es)?

    Many different ways to go, none wrong, depends how you want to tackle it.

    Without spray, the best option woulda been spending the $100 and trying to let your current grasses regrow. (If you have any now.) With spray, would have been an even better option.

    Grass responds well to mowing. Get the fertility right (including lime if needed), knock the broadleaf weeds down, & let the grass outgrow everything else. :)

    Plowing under & trying to reseed will cost you much more. Works fine & many times needed, but costs money.

    --->Paul
     
  9. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    In the northern two thirds of the state, bluegrass will take over ground that is kept mowed. Frost seeding some in late winter will help the cause along. Just keep it mowed, and get some county advice on improving the waterways.
     
  10. Wildoutdoorsmen

    Wildoutdoorsmen Active Member

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    Movable goat paddocks then to movable pig paddocks is a time consuming, but great way to do it organically. This will bring fertility to the soil from muck and turn bush to usable soil with little cost. You would get a return, instead of an expense.
     
  11. flaswampratt

    flaswampratt Well-Known Member

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  12. bostonlesley

    bostonlesley Guest

    We had a similar problem in Alabama..paid a guy to brush hog the huge stuff, then seeded with rye grass for the winter..it was excellent with clay soil! Plowed it under in the Spring, and then spread out all of our chicken coop and leaf compost over the area (we had built up quite a lovely bit of "stuff" over a 9 month period of time) ..seeded with Bermuda grass the first year and wasted a ton of money on it as we watched it disappear with heavy rain..mistake. that is very expensive grass seed! Live and learn..sigh. Our land had so much soil damage that weed seeding wasn't so much a problem..nothing could grow due to the nearly total erosion that had gone unchecked for years.

    We finally ended up having to truck in new soil..didn't cost me a dime..I looked around and found a construction site nearby..the owner was thrilled to have a place to get rid of all that soil..He was happy and I was happy..it took a long time for that dirt to "settle" but in the end it was gorgeous. Once again, rye grass saved the day..cheaper seed, fast growing, and keeps the soil from eroding. Come spring, turn it under and plant what you want.
     
  13. Freeholder

    Freeholder Well-Known Member

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    Intensively managed grazing will renovate a pasture without going to the work and expense of 1. spraying, 2. plowing/cultivating, 3. fertilizing, 4. reseeding. I've done it, and know it works. Let the animals do the work!

    However, you'd need more than three goats to renovate three acres -- you might want to get either a dozen or so sheep, or three or four steers. Just pasture them for the summer, then butcher or sell them this fall.

    Kathleen
     
  14. dk_40207

    dk_40207 Well-Known Member

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    We appreciate all of the great advice. We really don't want to spray, we just try to stay away from it.
    Th hundred buck was probably a okay deal, but the guy first said 55, the 75 and finally settled on 110....it just felt like he was untrustworthy.
    I'm interested in the idea about the animals grazing for the summer. My only hesitations would be: a-We are pretty ignorant about cattle, both intitial buying price and how/when to sell or kill b-how much it will cost to fence in the pasture.

    It would be great to have some beef that we know is grass fed....maybe I'll hop on over to the cattle forum and see what I can find out.
    Christina
     
  15. Freeholder

    Freeholder Well-Known Member

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    Christina, cattle are initially rather expensive, especially compared to sheep or goats, but they are much easier to fence. Two strands of hot (HOT!) electric fence will hold cattle in the inner paddocks (the perimeter fence should be sturdier than that, though). Sheep and goats would require better fencing -- but properly done, fencing has a lifespan of many years.

    Look up Premier's website, and order their catalog. Other than their recommendations of portable electric net fencing for sheep and goats (it didn't work well for us), their fencing suggestions are quite helpful.

    Kathleen
     
  16. homebirtha

    homebirtha Well-Known Member

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    We are using goats to bring back a neglected pasture. It was completely overgrown with weeds, brambles, wild roses, poison ivy, etc. They have done a great job of clearing all the brush. If we put pigs on it next, it would be in great shape by next year.

    We use 6 strands of electric for our goats and it works fine. Now, we only have does in this field, so bucks might be more difficult. But once they know the wire is hot, they don't go near it again.

    You can also get 150' of sheep/goat electic netting for a little over $100. So that might be a possibility too. (You'll also need a charger.)


     
  17. Freeholder

    Freeholder Well-Known Member

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    As I mentioned in my last post on this thread, electric netting didn't work well for us when we used it for sheep and goats. We had little ones (lambs and kids) try to go through it and get tangled up -- and shocked -- until we were able to cut them loose; older animals also tried to go through and had to be cut loose; they learned to lift the bottom wire (which is a ground, and not hot) and slide underneath, with the hot wires sliding over their backs. It was generally the biggest pain of any fencing we've ever tried. I know some people say it's worked for them, but I would never recommend it. The flock was getting moved daily, and had plenty of feed inside the fence, so that wasn't the problem.

    Kathleen
     
  18. Sandhills

    Sandhills Well-Known Member

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    Please check to see if the weeds in your pasture are toxic to goats before turning your goats out on the pasture. I have heard that wild cherry is toxic to goats. Also I believe ground cherrys are part of the night shades. I lost a young goat to night shade poisoning a few years ago.
    I have used white distilled vinegar to kill weeds but I don't know how much that would cost to do 3 acres. Sometimes I have to hit tap roots more than once with the vinegar. Also, if you are trying to save the grass it won't work as it kills the grass too. It's best to use it on a hot dry day. Also, corn gluten meal is good to prevent weed seed germination. Although it can be expensive.
     
  19. Rowdy

    Rowdy Well-Known Member

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    I too use six strand electric for my goats. It has worked great for me, but I took the time to train them to it in a smaller pen.

    For temp pasture electic is CHEAP! I can fence in an acre for my goats for $200 (not counting the charger of course.)

    I bought a two joule charger for about $150. I now have just over an acre or so fenced in with six wires (four of which are hot) and all points of the fence I get a reading over 5,500 volts. The goats respect it. Actually, the other evening I watched a bobcat hit the fence. It got the bottom wire with it's nose and went running other way. I wouldn't go as far as call it a predator proof fence, but it is better than barb wire. :)
    I run my fence like this:

    ------------Hot-----------------------
    12inches
    -----------ground---------------------
    10 inches
    -----------Hot-----------------------
    8 inches
    ------------Ground-------------------
    6 inches
    ----------Hot-----------------------
    6 inches
    --------- Hot------------------------
    6 inches
    _______________________________________________________________



    Of course cherry is supposed to be toxic to goats (at least if it is wilted) I do not have first hand knowledge of this, since I do not have any on my place.

    Rowdy
     
  20. Freeholder

    Freeholder Well-Known Member

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    Cherry is only toxic to goats in the wilted state. If it's green or dry, it's okay (our goats used to eat the little wild black cherry trees in our pasture in NH, and it never hurt them. But don't let them eat from a broken branch or a freshly downed tree.).

    It might be a good idea to contact your local ag. extension agent and get a list of local poisonous plants, but keep in mind that goats can eat some things that cows, for instance, can't. Maybe ask here or on a goat forum if you aren't sure about something.

    Kathleen