Less talk, more photos of grass

After those wordy posts, here are some photos. Firstly, that mystery legume is in flower. I need to find a few minutes to go searching through the plant identification sites to figure it out. My guess is some form of wild pea.

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Some of the fescue left standing has gone to seed. The cows will eat the rich grass underneath, but leaving some standing grass to mature will help the fescue propagate.

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This fat caterpillar loves the lotier/birdsfoot trefoil. Eat up young creature! Nom nom nom.

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It’s not all rose-colored glasses here for us grasspunks. This is the weedy part of the least fertile part of the Florida paddock. In last year’s drought we skipped grazing this area as having no food value at all. The one time we put them in during the drought they just stood there looking grumpy as though I had tricked them and violated the secret cow-farmer pact of giving them plenty of food in return for good behavior. It might be a coincidence but this is where they broke the fence and escaped a few months back.

This time last year everything here was dead. There was a lot of bare earth. Now there are plenty of interesting plants. There’s not much grass, but there are plenty of plantain plants and red clover, both of which cows like. Each successive year should see a buildup of fertility and the grasses will move in when the soil has what they need.

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This field was moss-bound in spring 2011, now there’s about one third of the moss. Still, there’s more work fixing fertility to finish the job of getting rid of the moss. It is a long way from Wormvana.

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A broader view – pretty much all legumes and plantain with a few other weeds and forbs thrown in. It is almost a herbal ley (temporary pasture), like the poor cousin of the fancy seeds that Cotswold Seeds sell based on Newman Turner’s leys.

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Incidentally, most of the stuff in those herbal leys grows wild on our farm. I just need to source some chicory and give it a go.

6 responses to “Less talk, more photos of grass

  1. I love your photos and explanations! I have a question about the weedy part of Florida. Is it improved because you rested it last year? Or because of the manure the animals deposited the one time you did graze them? Or did you do something else?

    Also, did you do anything specific to get rid of moss? We have some dry mossy areas that are pretty much barren except for moss. Although the moss is beautiful and makes me think “crèche,” I harrowed over it. I’m hoping something else will grow there although it’s under some low trees, so I think the moss likes the shade and the grass doesn’t.

    By the way, it rained gently almost all day yesterday and is pouring today and predicted to rain tomorrow. I really wish I could have bush-hogged that pasture I harrowed before it rained, but at least if I can do it pretty soon the soil should still be receptive. The weather has been CRAZY this year!

  2. Cecilia, you’d think the French would have chicory since they drink the coffee. The local farmer seed places can’t source it, I have to go hunting further afield.

  3. SL, I think the biggest factor in improvement is rain. It has rained a bit more this year, although overall it is still a dry-ish year. 2011 had a couple of two month rainless periods with only small amounts of rain in between. Actually that’s probably not fair to us since the pasture was moss-bound and poor in the spring before the drought.

    Historically that paddock has always been hayed in spring. Then I doubt they put the manure back there – they’d save it for their cereal crops. We didn’t hay it and mowed it back a couple of times to let the litter go back to the soil. Now the plants that are there are growing much better with the rain and the recycled fertility.

    Fertility gets rid of moss. My neighbors and friends tell me to scrape the fields in spring time with my special pasture harrows. I have one I bought in a package deal with some cows but I have never used it. The harrows scrape the moss and expose the soil. I’m finding just letting the fertility build up encourages the tall grasses, and they tall grasses out-compete the moss. In the most fertile paddock (Sleepy Hollow) there’s minimal moss and few weeds. The worse the fertility is the worse weed problem I have. Up on top of Florida the fertility is weak so there are a lot of weeds and not a lot of grass.

    Not sure about shady areas. You can feed hay there to build up fertility. We get grass under trees but it is a different environment to the open field.

  4. Steph, I think you have it. It certainly looks like meadow vetchling. It’s growing well right now.

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