Friday, April 2, 2010

Bush Hogs

Several weeks ago, we asked our neighbor to come "bush hog" our pastures.  We didn't hear from him about it again for a long time, and I was beginning to think he'd forgotten about it.  But this morning---surprise!---he just showed up and started mowing.

I'm pretty excited about it, actually.  We haven't had the money to hire him to do this for a couple of years, and the fields were being taken over by baby cedar trees.  It'll be pretty tight, financially, to pay him to do it now, but if we don't get them mowed soon, they'll eventually get too big to be mowed, and will have to be removed by much more expensive and time-consuming means.

You can see here the one clean swath along the treeline where the tractor has mowed one pass around the field.  Looking better already!
Now look at the beautiful difference, once the job is done:
Unfortunately, mowing the trees doesn't kill them.  They keep growing back.  But I hope that once our neighbor mows the trees down this time, I'll be able to make a bit of progress with other methods of pasture improvements before we need him to mow again.

The plan is to use our own "bush hogs."  I'll put the pigs into small areas of the pasture at a time, to encourage them to root up everything, including the plague of cedar trees.  After they're done, we'll move them to another small area, and will reseed with good grass in the area they just worked over.  If the pigs actually dig up the cedars, that will kill them so they won't come back, and we'll have a much, much more productive pasture.
 Allowing the pigs to dig up certain areas will also (I hope!) disrupt the life cycle of the sheep parasites, allowing the sheep to be healthier and more productive with less dependence on chemical wormers.

Currently, the two sows, Cerridwen and Circe, are doing a fantastic job completely plowing up my main sheep paddock, digging through all the old composted hay and sheep manure.  I don't think many parasites are going to withstand this kind of treatment for long.
The boar, Magick, is in the little front pasture, which was desperately compacted and overrun with weeds after we sold all our horses.  He's making some nice progress, but it's a big job for just one pig.  Soon, when the sows are old enough to breed, they'll go in there and help him.  Before long, there should be litters of piglets to join in the task as well.

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