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Discussion Starter #1
Hi. I live in California about 50 miles from Reno NV. I have a 3/4 Dexter- 1/4 Jersey cross heifer that I intend to use as a milk cow. I have 2 acres of basically sage, bitter brush and a few juniper and pines trees. About 1/4 of it is rocky. Of the 2 acres, about 1.5 are available for pasture.

So my question, is how do I go about turning this relatively useless land into dryland pasture. I am a great gardener but don't know anything about grasses or grains. I am interested in some kind of drought resistant forage and eventually doing rotational grazing if possible. I figure the way to go would be sowing in something like rye in the fall..... Do you all have any suggestions on how to go about doing this? How do I get the area ready for sowing. Do I have to remove all the brush first or only some of it.. Honestly I know nothing about it. I've tried to do research on the internet about it but haven't come up with much. Any ideas you have would be greatly appreciated!
 

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Go talk to your county extension agent or NRCS office. There are some treatment methods they should be able to recommend for rangeland rejuvenation. It usually doesn't involve sowing or much tillage/disruption of the ground. There is a difference between establishing a managed pasture and restoring grasslands. In a dry desert setting, I would strongly recommend taking care of the grassland.

One option for controlling the brush might be fire, a controlled burn. It would allow more moisture for the grasses to grow.

A serious question to ask your agent, is it realistic to expect the land you have to support the cow you have given the rainfall and vegetative growth?
 

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I grew up in that kind of country.... Only in Wyoming and Montana....

It might be a long process, but worth a try....
Take about a 4 to 5' length of about 3/8" cable and secure it into a loop with two cable clamps.... Fold it flat and loop around the very base of the sage or other plant at ground level... Pull it tight with one loop end through the loop formed in the other end... Hook to a chain to your tractor draw bar and pull the plant out completely.... NEVER pull from the tractor axle or raised 3pt hitch.... Rake the hole and loose dirt smooth and plant pasture grass seed recommended by your local extension agent... And maybe a little cheap quick growing, sacrificial plant like oats or rye....

This leaves no stump or root ball in the ground to deal with if or when you cultivate that area for any reason... The cleaner the ground is, the easier it is to over seed with more pasture grass, or anything else.... It is not a fast, or easy process... But you are dealing with a relatively small area.... And will leave you with much nicer ground in your pasture....

Pine trees up to about a 2" diameter trunk at the base should pull out reasonably OK also... Anything bigger than that you will most likely have to cut and then dig up the stump.... But then, even Ponderosa pine is a reasonable shade, and soil anchoring tree...

This is not that hard to do once you get started and learn how, as long as your ground is at least a little damp and not dried out bullet hard...

Good luck...
 
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Is that near Susanville? I have been through the area once years ago. I agree with GoldenCityMuse, you need more land or be prepared to feed a lot of hay. I'm in SC where recently we have had adequate rain fall, like 40+ inches of rain a year, and 1.5 acres here would be barely adequate to support a cow.

COWS
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I'm about 1.5 hours from Susanville. Thanks for all the replies. I will try the cable approach to pull up the sage. And will talk with our local extension.
 
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