About This Time Each Year
Last week I mentioned that weeds are not a bad thing. They alert us to possible problems and also work to help solve soil issues. I don't give my attention to weeds in our pastures as they also help create plant diversity.
However, there is a plant that I have been battling since coming back to the farm in 2009. Technically, it is a bunch grass and the cows will eat it UNTIL the seed head appears.
This bunch grass is a big nuisance! When I first returned in 2009 the pasture across from our home was mostly black from the mature seed heads. And, when the cows walk through the pasture the seeds collect on the cows and often fall off in the next pasture when rotated. This quickly spreads this bunch grass - and that's right - it is a massive domino affect year after year.
So, what to do about this? Well, the conventional agriculture way is to spray chemical formulated to ONLY KILL the bunch grass. However, the success rate is only 70% at best IF you get a rain very soon after spraying for the chemical to go into the ground and kill the roots. This was NOT an option for our farm as the risk was to great vs. reward.
Another method is to disk (turn the dirt in the pasture) as the bunch grass does not like this and it can kill it. For the pasture across the road that was heavily infested this is the solution I choose as the INITIAL step. So, the fall of 2010 I disked the pasture about every two weeks from mid July to early September. The following year the results were pretty good, BUT not good enough to prevent re-spreading in the next few years and be back where I started.
So, the follow up treatment was to collect the seed heads, dispose of them in a plastic bag, and then dig up the parent plant and knock the dirt off the roots so it would die.
In 2011 I spent many days collecting seed heads, disposing of them in plastic bags, and digging up the parent plant. This worked very good, but is very time and labor consuming.
So, what is this nuisance bunch grass? Well, it is called SMUT Grass because when the seed head starts maturing it turns as black as smut. Here is a picture of one.
Here I'm collecting the seed heads. I'll use a pair of heavy scissors to cut the stems being very careful not to shake any seeds off.
Seed heads are safely inside the plastic bag. I'll tie the top closed when finished and send them to the dump.
Now that the seed heads are safely out of the way I use my shovel to dig up the parent plant.
Final step is knock the dirt from the roots. Using the side of my shovel works very good for this.
One Friday afternoon I collected a bag full of seed heads and dug up numerous plants across 24 acres. The two hours it took to complete this was less time than it would have taken to buy the spray, mix, spray onto the pasture, and cleanup. Not counting the cost of the chemical (currently $130/gallon).
And, best of all - there is no potential risk to the soil, animals, or our customers who trust us to provide healthy & nutritious meats for their families.
Julie, a long-time customer of our farm sent us this Thank You earlier this week:
Maybe you have been looking for premium ALL NATURAL GOODNESS of beef, pork, chicken, and eggs raised on pasture as God intended - with emphasis on Regenerative Principles and NOT conventionally raised animals (with growth hormones, drugs, chemicals, and antibiotics) - and where animals are treated humanely - then you have come to the right farm. Our delivery schedule and product availability is listed below along with order buttons that will take you to our website where you can browse over 90 product choices and place your order from the convenience of your home. It's that simple!
Lastly, Beth & I thank you for trusting us with your food dollars.
** Product Availability Update **
Chicken -Restocked Thursday, August 11th. Next harvest date is August 24th with restock the following day
Eggs - Eggs are still tight but better. Thanks for your patience and remember to check our website each Wednesday just before YOUR delivery.
Beef - Restocked FRIDAY July 22nd. Next restock will be August 20th.
Pork - Fully Stocked except
bacon. Next harvest date is Monday, August 15th.
Lamb - Next harvest date is later this fall.