I love this time of the year; the expectation of our first nice spring season in some time tempts my mind into fantasies of cattle on pasture under sunny skies. This is a path that leads to thoughts of improving our farm and the projects that are the vehicle to that end. This week I want to talk about pasture projects.
“Every improvement is an investment” is the mantra I repeat to myself each time I embark on a new project. When the project develops the pasture where our cattle graze, the message is especially true. Last year the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) helped us to develop an underground watering system for our cattle and a more permanent grid of interior fencing to make our rotational grazing system work even better. This year, we are doing more subtle projects to make our farm a bit more diverse and sustainable.
Our first project is planting a small portion of our ground into a pollinator mix. The plan is to take a little ground next to the river and seed it with plants that make a good dinner plate for insects, birds and other animals that help pollinate plants. I read in an NRCS pamphlet that one out of every three to four mouthfuls of food and beverage that passes our lips is due to pollination. Planting this mix will create a nice place to visit if you are a bee, bird or small mammal and possibly a good place to raise little ones.
I think the next project is my favorite; a water tank escape. This involves attaching hardware fabric or screen to the side of the tank then weighing the other end down into the tank of water with a brick. If some small animal, perched on the side of the tank for a drink, happens to fall in then it will have a way to crawl out. My dad always floated a board in cattle water for the birds and I have followed that lead, but this will be a little additional safety for the small and four-legged.
I like the idea of creating a good environment for helpful insects, however I would like to show the rest of them the door. I hope this year we can do that with fly predators. Fly predators arrive in a cocoon stage but come to life after distribution in the pasture. The fly predators seek out flies in their pupae stage and lay their own eggs with the immature fly. When the eggs hatch, they eat the pupae and greatly reduce fly population-at the least that’s what is says in the brochure. Seems I’ve been reading a lot of brochures lately.
Those are a few of my projects; all inspired by a need to improve and a spring that can be proud of itself. I will share pictures in the future as the projects come to completion; until then enjoy your spring and your own projects.