Do you remember what you were doing last Friday night? I do!
We weren’t at the movies and we didn’t go out on a date.
But, it was still an exciting night because the ground dried up enough for John to finish planting the last few acres of corn for the year.
Then, it was time to plant some grass seed at the Four Sisters Farm. Now, you have to understand – at his core John is a farmer. And, at my core I just want to graze and feed cattle.
To say we have conflicting interests in our marriage is an understatement! Starting last fall, I began suggesting, hinting and finally shamelessly begging John to convert this 9-acre patch from farm ground to pasture. After 6 months of exhaustive effort – I finally convinced a farmer to give up a little farm ground for pasture.
Last Friday night was a personal victory of sorts! We planted grass! Even if it was just 9-acres — it is a start!
(Please don’t feel too sorry for John, putting this piece into grass is going to make his spring planting less stressful. This piece was always too wet to plant & a bit of a hassle.)
First, John worked the field. This loosens the soil and prepares the seed bed. It also helps it become dry enough to plant.
Then, he rolled the field (above). The roller is heavy and it smooths out the ground. This is good for planting grasses because those seeds prefer a firm seedbed. If the seeds fall too far into the dirt, they will have trouble poking up to the sky.
By the time we were ready to plant it was 10 PM and dark. Elaine and I helped John calibrate the drill and load the seed. We had to calibrate the drill to make sure that the right amount of grass seed per acre was spread on the field.
This is the tag on the seed bag. It is sort of like the calorie label on a bottle of Coke. It showed the types of grass we selected. The main varieties were:
- Tall fescue — fescue is just super, duper resilient. It grows, grows, grows. What it lacks in nutritional value it makes up for in volume. This blend was about 30% fescue.
- Orchard grass — this grass is tall-growing, cool-season grass. It is also very productive. However, it lacks the drought tolerance of tough fescue. This grass will start growing early in spring, which will be helpful if we calve any cows or heifers here. It also has a dense root system.
- Perennial ryegrass — This is also a cool-season grass. Meaning it will be productive early in the spring, slow down in the hot summer months, and with a little fall rain – it will kick in and grow again.
- Clover — we also planted some clover. Clover does well in moist soils, so we thought it would tolerate this wet, damp spring soil.
This first year, we’ll keep our fingers crossed that the seeds come up well. I did a little figuring and it worked out to about $2.33 per pound.This is a long-term decision. It will take at least 5-years for the root system to develop and the grass to form a hard, “sod” root system. Thankfully, grasses are perennial (come back year after year). This one-time investment will pay off for years and years.
This year, we won’t want to put much grazing pressure on it, so we will likely just take hay off this pasture.
Plus, this new pasture needs a new fence before any cattle can be turned out. I know a certain farmer who would be ticked if the cattle ended up in his corn field!
Another spring cleaning project is removing some rotted wind breaks and building new fences around part of a pen near the barn. Here’s what needs to go!
Do you think I could convince my sisters to come up and help me build fence for a few days after they get out of school? (Hint, Hint, Hint.)
I pretty sure with a couple S Girls, my Dad, and a bobcat we could knock this job out in three days or less.