Pasture forage is officially dormant and deteriorated for the next two months. And it makes me bonkers! I hate exposed soil, it’s overgrazed, and terribly unhealthy looking in terms of soil protection. But I don’t believe in restricting animal movement for several months either as it’s poor for their health. So how does a permaculture farmer grapple with this unsightly situation for the next two months?
Number one, I have subdivided my pastures. Sacrifice areas go to hell while the animals move and exercise. The rest is quarantined and preserved as much as possible.
Number two, bare soil in the sacrifice areas is regularly covered in scrap hay. It protects the topsoil, provides traction for the animals, and holds loads of seeds that’ll sprout come spring.
Number three, I start cold season cover crop sowing first thing in March. Forage growth is reestablished asap.
And number four, after years of observation on my pastures, I have two areas with soggy soil and even a little water that seems to flow downhill. Because these areas are well away from buildings, the septic, and pipelines, I’ll be planting two giant willow trees to help break up compacted clay, seek out and draw up a lot of that moisture, and help control mud in future seasons.
If you have other ideas, I’d love to hear them!
Angela is the farmer and content creator behind Axe & Root Homestead LLC. This historic six-acre permaculture farm is home to two Clydesdale horses, ten honeybee hives, five sheep, two guardian dogs, barn cats and a flock of 40 geese and ducks. The farm produces maple syrup, fruit from a small orchard and loads of garden produce for consumption, preservation and donation to the local food pantry.
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