They say you reap what you sow - but not if the wild hogs get it first.
As reported in a previous edition, we planted wheat this fall in hopes of getting some extended grazing on into late spring. I was elated when the wheat started to come in as I’ve had limited success with planting wheat in years past. Most of it is directly behind the house, and I’ve turned the cows out on it a few times, but I also planted some in “the back 40”. Last week I went to turn the cows out onto what I thought would be a good stand of grass, only to find that the wild hogs had gotten there first. Seems they cleared out the entire patch - roots and all.
In an effort to make lemonade out of this batch of lemons, I decided to reseed the tilled earth with some ryegrass. I rolled out some hay bales over the top to ensure it gets trampled in by the cows, and to provide cover so the birds don’t eat all the seed. As we have previously mentioned, rolling out hay bales has several benefits. It helps distribute the manure evenly, ensures that all the cows get an equal share of feed, and enriches the soil with the leftover residue.
To further improve the land, I broadcast radish seeds over some areas that have little topsoil and have been damaged by drought. These areas are mostly clay and have a lot of mesquite trees. Radish seeds are usually planted by drilling them into the soil, but I decided to experiment and use the cow/hay feeding dynamic to help make the process easier. I broadcast the seeds on top of the soil and covered them with hay bales, hoping that the cows would trample the seeds into the ground as they walked over the hay bales. The clay was soft due to the rain we've had this winter, so I thought the seeds might have a chance of taking root. It turns out that this method worked! So now we can add one more benefit of rolling out hay bales - you can use the hoof action of the cows to till in seeds!
I chose to plant Daikon Radish in the clay area as it has a very long root that is reportedly strong enough to penetrate the clay. This will help breakup the clay and when it rots, will not only add organic matter, but will provide a pathway for water to infiltrate. Over the span of a few years, I’m hoping to improve the clay patches and convert them to better soils that will grow lush grasses.
Next, I’m going to try to plant clovers where the our pigs have gotten a bit aggressive with rooting up the ground in the pig pastures. In years past I’ve wasted a lot of money trying to get clover to take, but I’m hopeful that this new technique will improve the seed-to-soil contact and hence yield better results. Stay tuned to future newsletters and follow us on social media to see if these experiments pay off. And by all means, if you have suggestions or other comments, please share them - I wasn’t born with a green thumb.
We have some exciting news to share! The Pflugerville Winter Market is returning to provide a market option during the winter months while the Pflugerville Pfarmers Market is closed. This market is located in front of the Immanuel Lutheran Church at 500 Immanuel Road and will be open from 4 pm – 6 pm every Tuesday. Amber Oaks will be attending this market on a regular basis along with many of your favorite vendors from the regular Pfarmers Market.