03 October 2017

Pasture Rehab

Oats (top), Japanese Radish (white flowers)
and Vetch (purple)
I dream, once more, of Chickens... While wandering around my pasture rehab project, I noticed an area of ground that has quite clearly been dug by some animal or other, and wondered what had been there for someone to want to dig it up.

There are lots of possibilities. It might have been Lillies, which the Bushpigs love to root up around this time of year. It always looks like the Lillies have been quite destroyed, but it turns out to be an essential part of their lifecycle. Without the help of the Bushpigs to break up and distribute the root fragments, the Lillies will, in time, die out. But I'm pretty sure there were no Lillies growing in that part of the field, and Bushpig diggings are generally much deeper, more emphatic, than what I was seeing. So not Bushpigs.

Then it dawned on me. This was the patch where I threw out a batch of spent brewing grains a week or two back. The local Pigeons have been foraging them intensively, and they've scratched the ground clear, eliminating the Buffalo grass in this limited area. Just what I want, and exactly the same thing Chickens do, given the opportunity.

The pasture is just reaching a point in its rehabilitation where it wants to become productive. Beneath the ever-deepening layers of organic matter, the soil is moist, still quite sticky and gluey, but slowly gaining structure, slowly coming back to life. We see it in the ever increasing variety of plant species growing in amongst the Buffalo and Kikuyu grasses that once dominated the field, suffocating all other plant-life. There are the Vetches and Mustards, the Japanese Radish and Oats and Millets we have sown, but there are also the "weeds" -- tall grasses that make so much useful strawey mulch when cut down, another unnamed weed with soft, sticky, stinky leaves that blanket the grass, denying it light, Dandelions, with their long taproot that opens up the soil to admit new air and life. The bees are certainly making good use of the flowering Vetches.

So now it is time. The field is well on its way to recovery, well enough able that adding light livestock will be beneficial to all parties, will accelerate the soil building, the nutrient/energy flows, and the diversity.

Time for me to get on with building a new Chicken run and housing...

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