Thursday, January 31, 2013


No, we haven't got a dog.

"Pugging" is a term that describes the what happens to sodden pasture when it's stepped on by a heavy animal. The soil is compacted into a perfect hoof-shaped bowl.  Imagine thousands of these bowls creating "texture" over the field.  Now imagine trying to roll tiny wheels in and around these bowls as we move our broiler pens around this summer.  GROAN.

See the water collected in the hoofprint?
Because we had no way of getting the cows OFF the ground, into a barn or true "sacrifice" area, we have created this mess for ourselves.     

The reason you want to avoid putting animals on wet ground is the same reason you want to avoid working in the garden when the ground is wet: soil compaction.  When you have clay soils, as we do, avoiding soil compaction is extremely important.

Now that the cows are gone, there will be no further damage to the pasture.  I will have to research how to repair the pugging that has occurred.

Goodbye, Oinkers!

Pugging.  Yuck.

Janurary 2013 Update

We're on track for another mild winter.  This is not good for the bees, who should be staying inside keeping warm instead of burning more calories flying around looking for things to eat.  The only things blooming at present are a few dandelions and the biggest winter weeds, henbit and chickweed.  These plants are beneficial and we certainly harvest whatever we can find to toss to the birds. 

In this season of "no growth" of grass, the chickens have been extremely tough on the sod.  With the cows in the lower field we got really backed into a corner, pasture-wise.  We addressed this by parking the laying flock on a pad of 5 tons of rough-textured sawdust from the local chipper mill.  If we had a hoophouse over the area, it would be the same system that Polyface uses in the winter.  Unfortunately, the hoophouse will have to wait.  What this means from a management perspective is that we'll continue to add carbon to the pad to compensate for the moisture that will surely continue to fall over the winter.  In the spring will we plant a thick cover crop over the pad to smother weeds and build soil.  Eventually we should have both good soil there and a hoophouse.