Sunday, January 6, 2013

Fencing and pastures

Girl and I worked on the fencing until we ran out of t-posts.  We put in about 400 feet of fencing.  It's amazing how many t-posts I can use at a time!  With a t-post every 8 feet that would be 50 posts.  Some of them were already in, but Girl had to pound in about 25 posts.  She does a great job getting them in a straight line and standing them up straight.  She does a better job at this than I, and I make sure to tell her so!  We got everything fenced as I had pictured in my mind.  There are seven separate pastures our back - two are 175x175, three are 150x160, one is about 50x50 and the long driveway pen is about 600x15.    I would like to split the first pasture that's 175x175 in half but I don't have anymore panels or posts.  Posts are easy to get.  They will fit into the back of the pickup.  It's easy to drop $100 on 20 posts (always get USA not China) and throw them into the back of the pickup.  The panels are a different story.  My little hauling trailer is only 8 feet.  I can't put the panels in them.  I borrow a friends 12 trailer and the 16 foot panels will fit in that with them hanging over the back.  It works but it's a hassle.  Maybe I should be looking for a used 12 or 16 foot trailer.  They aren't really that expensive and I wouldn't be relying on someone else who live 20 miles away.

The animals can be locked in or out of any of the pastures.  I have a pasture grass driveway going down the fence line.  Each pasture area has a gate that can be opened and closed onto the driveway area but also a get connecting each pasture.  The animals can eat down one pasture and the rest can be left to grow.  Once they eat that one down they can be moved into the next pasture.  I should be able to rotate them well enough that I'll never have to buy any hay. 

I don't really buy any hay now, except for when I feel sorry for them and want to give them treats.  With the mild winter we've had so far the pastures haven't gone completely dormant.  All of them have at least two inches of greens and some as much as four inches.  Once the warm spring comes the pastures will grow to two or three feet high.  Sometimes even taller. 

In one of the pastures I planted oat a few years ago.  It got more oat growing in it that then other pastures but not enough to sustain us.  In the next few weekends, after it dries out a little (we got rain last night) I will be able to disk the pasture.  Then planing the oat seed will work better.  I'd like to plant one of the pastures in oat, one in wheat, and one in barley.  Two I'd like to put in better pasture mix. 

One of our neighbors planted oat in his 200 acres.  He hires someone to disk the land each year and in exchange that person also mows the oats and bales them.  He keeps it all in exchange for disking the land.  Well, I don't want to hire the person to disk and then mow and bale and keep it all for himself.  I want to be able to disk my pasture (I have a small disk for my small tractor) then plant the oats and not mow or bale.  I figure if I leave them in the pasture and collect the seed, then I let the animals in to  eat the forage, it will be a good situation for all of us.  I can use some of the seed to replant and some of the seed can be made into oat flour or cut oats for oatmeal. 

Same with the wheat.  If I planted this 1/2 acre in wheat it would provide enough wheat on a permanent basis for us to eat, plus enough to replant each year, and some to throw to the chickens.  Not that I would harvest the wheat now, I would wait until either I've retired from work or the SHTF, whichever comes first (or they both may happen at the same time). 

I've also been told that you can pasture the animals on the oats or wheat for a few weeks in the spring and that won't hurt anything on the growing cycle of the grain.  If you think about it, you mow the lawn and it keeps coming back.  If you put the animals on to mow it down, as long as you give it enough time to come back and set the seed head you'll be OK.  The pastures should also reseed themselves so unless TSHTF and I need to intensify the wheat, oats, and barley pastures, this new technique of rotating pastures should be self sufficient and self sustaining.  Just the way I like it!


  1. With the price of alfalfa wavering between $14 and $17 dollars, your logic in this plan is sound. In a survival situation animals can be staked to graze or portable fencing can be used on abandoned / public properties to feed also. Hobbles may also be used. But, one must post guards on these animals. The two and four legged predators will take these animals quickly. Two guards must be used. A single guard can be easily lulled into complacency and overwhelmed.

    G.I. JIM

  2. Sounds like a sustainable pasture system. This maybe more work and make the panels less stable, but we cut the panels in half for transport. Two 8 footers on top of the car roof. Definitely more work in the end, but easier to transport and move about.