Pasture Ideas?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by moonwolf, Oct 13, 2004.

  1. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    I'de like to get some good ideas to consider about reviving and putting some pasture that's been unused for years. On the north side is a lot of birdsfoot trefoil that seems a permanent growth. Some grasses in areas but I'm not definite which type. That area also was planted with pine and spruce trees for windbreak. These are approximately 15 ft. high now, but open areas exist. The trefoil grows thoghout that range. I've heard that bees make excellent honey out of trefoil blossoms. The open areas could benefit pasturing something? Any thoughts?

    On the other side is gradual down hill slope to the south west and fairly well drained except for a low drainage that is intersperesed with willow. That willow brush is now getting about 8 ft. high and spreading. I know that pasture was much clearer before, and thinking it should be revived to a clearer state utiilizing some pasture animals. The open pasture is a good 15 acres or more, and is mixed with a lot of red clover. Another area north beyond the mixed secondary poplar/balsam woods is about a 5 acre clearing of grasses that is adjacent to the low lying beaver pond and meadow. It was fenced before and obviously cattle pastured, though I feel that area is now better utilized in a wild state maybe better for deer and hunting prospects since it's bordered to the west by wildlife park mostly mixed forest of large poplar and black spruce. Nice for trails there to walk or horseback ride, though I don't have that much interest to ride horses in particular.

    So, given the descriptions above, what ideas might anyone have to improve a homesteading lifestyle here?
     
  2. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    With the limited acreage you are not going to be able to get into grazing livestock in a commercial way with anything other than goats. Your winters will mandate that you have hay which will use part of your land and require expense of haying equipment. I doubt if you could justify that outlay. I agree that utilizing the wildlife in the area would offer a high potential and without having the responsibility of having to attend to the animals in harsh weather. To enhance (attract from the refuge) the animals to afford hunting and consequently meat, you could establish some quality food plots. Personally I would remove the willows and I would try to establish plants that naturally grow in your area that are desireable to the wildlife. You could also charge for hunting rights during the hunting season and generate some additional income. Rather than leasing for the season, install some hunting stands and charge by the day (better income).
     

  3. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    agmantoo,
    Thanks for this reply. I would love to attend with the property as a sort of wildlife sanctuary. It's an appealing thought, though this is still an agricultural zone that could favor some sort of farming. Hay should be readily available close by without me laying out the cost for an operation.
    I am very cautious to entertain dealing with hunter's and don't really want them. Besides that is the regulaitons with tourist operators and the natural resources department. It wouldn't pay anyway, as there is plenty of surrounding wild land access for resident hunters. Regulations for non-resident hunters staying in roofed accomodations and camping is restricted. In other words, I would need to register a tourist outfitter operation. That's not an easy task with the regulations, and it wouldn't interest me to be a hunting guide for which again need licensing and so on.
    I'm thinking more along the lines of clearing that willow, as you also suggest. Replanting would be prohibitive to buy plants other than tree seedlings and the like. That would also take years. I burn the pastures in the spring, but eventually the woody brush will need dealing with , or it will become a mat of brush forest that would hold some wildlife, but not too attractive landscape.
    I've had others on this board suggest highland cattle to eat down brush. That's a possibility. A neighbor had them before he put up a greenhouse operation. I don't see any other farms around here raising Highland, though a couple of bison herds, one of which is a 600 animal operation. Not that I want that, but it's interesting. Also, there is an elk farm nearby. It's an expensive setup with tall fences and started from a clear alfalfa field. They do well with it, but spend the ying yank marketing and had government help with it's start up. I also am wary of the responsibilities of raisng wild ungulates here as the regulations frown at it if they get loose...big problems.

    So, natural habitat and perhaps some woodlot for firewood and such. That trefoil and nearby clover/alfalfa fields would benefit beekeeping....and then there's the black bear nuisance problem.
    Closer to the house is barn and builidngs that benefit poultry raising. That seems to be what it boils down for making it pay somewhat and market gardening.
    Still thinking. I appreciate your input. I partially like thinking along the lines of your ideas. Well, nothing till spring will begin after all this 'speculation'. :D
    I've gotten good ideas from this board. It's a great resource and friendly folk.

    Thanks.
     
  4. cloverfarm

    cloverfarm Well-Known Member

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    I don't know what the laws are in your state about classified forests. My mom and dad had some land they took out of farming and planted trees, trees, trees, with input from the state forester adn DNR in how many acres. In our state having it "classified forest" means property taxes are $1 per acre per year. I'm not sure what permitted uses are. However, the property tax break could indirectly be money in your pocket.
    Hope that helped!]
    Ann

    Edited to add, since I see you are in Canada (different situation entirely) that probably didn't help much!
     
  5. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    No. and there is lots of crown land forest. It would be more money to get for firewood.
    The land here is classified privately deeded farm, so to maintain it that would be of some interest. The wild land adjacent is already there. There is some possibilitiy of a private conservation group to be involved with. Too much beurocracy and they would want to regulate land use. :no:
     
  6. Freeholder

    Freeholder Well-Known Member

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    Here is what I would do with your piece of land . . . take what you like and leave the rest.

    First, I would make sure the perimeter fencing is really good (goat and dog-proof). Next I would cross fence it with electric into a number of smaller paddocks, and run water hose out, probably black plastic, long enough to reach the farthest corner. I would then stock with two or three cows, a dozen or so sheep, about that many dairy goats, and a livestock guardian dog, moving them from paddock to paddock every day or as they ate the grass down evenly to about four inches high. Study up on intensively managed grazing. This will improve your pasture faster than anything else you can do -- but you do need to learn to judge your pasture re-growth extremely well. The eye of the master fatteneth his stock, I think is the saying, but it needs to be an educated eye.

    Willow is an extremely useful plant to have, so I wouldn't get rid of it. You can coppice it for firewood or basket-making. Add some hazel (there are other trees suitable for coppicing but you'd have to do some research to find them) and you can make tool handles and other useful things around the homestead. Plant some black locust or something for future fencepost and firewood needs.

    The number of animals I mentioned won't eat all your grass, so you might be able to get someone to hay part of the land in early summer when there is the most surplus. Later on, any excess growth should be stockpiled for early winter pasture. The goal is to keep the animals on pasture as much of the year as possible, and feed as little hay as possible.

    If you are in a state where you can't sell raw milk from the farm, I'd use the milk for raising calves and baby pigs. Raise the calves until the grass runs out and butcher for baby beef. Breed your does to a meat buck and sell the kids for the meat market -- direct sales, if possible. You may be able to find ethnic buyers who want to do their own butchering, which will save both of you the hassle of finding a certified butcher shop.

    I would also add meat chickens or ducks, pasturing them a couple of days behind the four-legged critters in the rotation. Or you could have layers, but it takes longer to get a return off them. Then you could add berries and fruit trees around the edges and in corners where you can fence the critters out, and add plants that will attract wildlife in the same corners. You ought to be able to keep about twenty beehives, too. You can put up a sign out by the road to sell honey, eggs, and meat, or take it to a farmer's market. If you have a thriving farmer's market in your area, you could actually do pretty well with this set up -- though it would help a whole lot of you didn't have a mortgage to worry about!

    Kathleen