Dandelions, a patou and Roques. A patou des Pyrénées is a Pyrenean Mountain Dog (or Great Pyrenees) and Legend is one of those. He’s about one year old now and big and puffy. He likes to keep watch for intruders.
The herd is in the Florida paddock. The grass here has had about three months rest over winter and is seeing some good early spring growth. Last year we grazed this paddock in May, this year in late March. The fertility is visibly higher with way more litter on the ground. Ryegrass seems to be doing well along with meadow fescue.
Eric’s house is right by the herd. Below Blackie Onassis is trying some of Eric’s nice grass.
This close-up shows some of the the litter that is partly decomposed – the old dried grass from last year. As the worms eat this we’ll see the benefits later in Spring. There is also some vetch or sainfoin here. You get more legumes when you stop the practice of adding in artificial nitrogen fertilizer. Less nitrogen gives legumes a competitive advantage until there’s a balance met. This balance depends on your grazing management. We’ll see where it gets to but right now we’re seeing way more legumes than in 2011.
The last photo shows some of Sleepy Hollow. We hammered this area with the herd over winter. It was grazed twice with extra hay to supplement the grass. The herd left this area about six weeks ago and it had grown so well since then that we might graze it next.
Only some of the paddock is this fertile but all parts have seen a big gain since last year. As soil fertility increases we’ll see benefits everywhere – water retention, early growth, resistance to hoof impact, drought resistance…
One question that I always ponder is what will be the steady-state species mix of the pasture after a few years. Which grass will dominate? Which legume? Right now annual ryegrass seems to be doing well in the fertile areas. It isn’t clear what is doing well with the legumes and we are seeing red clover, some vetches, sainfoin and lotier/birdsfoot in greater quantity than 2011.