After typing up a consultation report to send to a recent client, I thought, “there is a ton of great information in here that people would probably love to read”, so I had to share with you all. The following is from the most recent consultation Jeff did. –Kristina Rossi, Secretary/Business Manager, Barefoot Farmer
It was great to meet you and your family. The farm has amazing potential, along with lots of work.
Increasing beef production is where I would start. The NRCS, the USDA’s soil conservation program, can assist in cross-fencing and watering facilities. Contact your local extension agent. They may also have good ideas on making and fixing ponds.
The fields need lime. Contact the farmers co-op, or ask a neighbor, about getting a truck to spread 1 1/2 to 2 tons of lime per acre. Any burn piles you make will provide wood ash, which is an excellent source of potassium and calcium.
The land is compacted. Ripping with a chisel plow along the contours would add air, help with drainage and promote biological activity. Your soil is fertile, but too tight. I wouldn’t plow the hay field (where the horses were before the hill) as it leaves the land rough at first. Plow the hill above the hay field and keep the horses there.
Premier fencing offers a catalog with lots of electrical fencing information and products. Books on the subject include Salad Bar Beef by Joel Salatin, Holistic Management by Alan Savory, Ranching Full Time on 3 Hours a Day by Cody Holmes, No Risk Ranching by Greg Judy, and works by Allen Nation, whose magazine is called “Stockman Grass Farmer”. Acres, USA has many of these books available for purchase online.
By moving a herd often, much of your farm will finally be allowed the rest it needs to properly heal. Keeping animals off of land, along with bush hogging the brush, lets the grasses and clovers re-establish themselves. Buying hay for a year or two might be wise because it is like buying organic fertilizer, but that depends on your budget.
The garden behind the house has a bermuda grass issue. Plow the whole thing now, after cleaning out the barn and spreading it on the garden spot. Leaves rough plowed all winter and physically remove the wire roots. Cover crop in summer with any tall, rank growing summer annual- sudan grass, corn, cow peas, sun flowers, and then follow with a winter cover of wheat and peas or rye and vetch.
The corn field has a drainage issue. Remove bermuda grass underneath fence. Sow it into wheat and peas or rye and vetch now, if you can fence out the cattle.
Bush hogging is the cheapest fertilizer, you can constantly add organic matter every time you bush hog. Bring loppers and chain saw and take out low branches along the edges, maybe thin back some trees to increase pasture size. Figure out the barn drainage issue and maybe gutter and cistern the excess water.
Stay in touch, and please come visit if you can.