Winter Grazing

Generally in the winter out here on the prairie there is no grazing. No grass left, no grass growing, not a thing.

But here is Tima out on the lawn – grazing. Eating as much grass as she can find. Can you see the green tips appearing?

Everyone else just lay about in the sun.
pig and cow

pig and cow7

cow and pig

I am not putting this lot out on the lawn!

The sun was a magnet yesterday. We were all out there in the sun. We were warmed to our bones  – I had to go in search of my sunglasses and suntan lotion and a hat.  THAT much sun.

John tilled one of the fields that the pigs had prepared last season. We will probably sow this in my pasture cocktail  and oats (I still have a little left over from last year) today. The ground is perfect for  working and because I suspect that we will have a long wet spring, (which makes it impossible to get the beds prepared)  I am going to ask him to turn the big garden beds this weekend. I know it is early but this season is so crazy so far that I am rolling with it.  These were sown in oats last autumn as green ground cover and he needs to turn all that in. Best to get ahead while the ground is good.

We have very heavy loamy soil created by glaciers and flood and fire over the ages and it does not like to be worked when it is wet. In fact I wish I did not need to work it at all but I prefer not to use round-up or other chemicals so (in the absence of a team of workers) we have to remove the weeds manually by scraping  or light tilling to prepare the soil for the annual vegetable crops.  There is always a trade off isn’t there. Of course the pigs and the chickens are also my favourite weapons against weeds.

But we will see – it may still be too wet.

We are slowly drifting into permaculture. Many of my beds are now permanent with the berry bushes and perennial crops. This year I will establish the big herb beds – many of which will be permanent too.  It takes a long time to create gardens based on a the practice of permaculture  and I have well established areas but like many little farmers my farm is a mixture of principles and codes and undertakings.    I am not fond of labels and rules.

This is an interesting How To for setting up a Permaculture Farm. It is interesting but for a much bigger and more ideal farm than this one. I am an opportunist really. I have what I have and farm on it as best I can.  It is not as though I went out and looked for land to farm on. It was just here so I built a few fences and jammed some plants in the ground and went from there in a kind of organic mossy manner.

I hope you have a lovely day.  It is very misty this morning and will be warm again I think. Yes, today will have a high of 66f and once this mist burns off – more sunshine. Record highs. And I am going take full advantage of these record highs. We are rocking on.

When I was in London my friends and I  went on a wonderful walk from Angel out to Smithfields. Both of these friends of mine are bloggers as well (we have known each other for years) and one of them – Mad Dog – documented the day. I am providing the link here because the little restaurant called La Lola that we visited was so lovely and the young men who ran it so kind (they even gave me one of their aprons), that if you are in London you might want to check it out. Here is the link to the story of our day and my new favourite London establishment. As described by my friend and long time member of The Fellowship: Mad Dog.

Have a lovely day,

Love celi

37 Comments on “Winter Grazing

  1. Really looks spring like. I have posted my week in pictures which looks very different. It was mild yesterday and hopefully will be again today.

  2. Sunbathing seems to take their minds of escape!
    Thanks for the link – hopefully it will boost Oh’Lola’s popularity, though they seem to be doing nicely regardless 🙂

    • Yes, they were very busy when we were there and summer is coming – I bet they Boom in the summer..They have kept it simple with good quality – this is so important.. c

  3. Yes, we’ve got a very misty morning here too, with a high of 75 expected! That’s crazy for Feb. 19th! We strung the hammocks back up yesterday, so we have our respite spot outside to take periodic breaks during the day! 🙂

  4. Would be great if you could just slowly slide into a nice warm spring 🙂 Are there any asparagus heads popping up yet? Laura

  5. Jonathan & Denise > “I have well established areas but like many little farmers my farm is a mixture of principles and codes and undertakings. I am not fond of labels and rules” Us to! Our soil is a sandy loam built up by centuries of back-breaking labour, bringing in seaweed and farm/garden/kitchen manure/compost. It’s good, but only because of the continuing inputs. Nothing in = Nothing out.

    • Especially out there on the island so close to the sea, we grew up by the sea and alll my mother wanted was roses – she grew up inland. Dad tried his best to build her rock gardens to contain the soil but it never really worked. All those sea breezes.. c

  6. Denise > The scent of the fresh shoots in the winter sunshine will be driving Sheila mad! We’re the same over tomatoes: we eat only the tomatoes we grow ourselves, so by late June, when the first are ready to pick, we’re so excited and overwhelmed by the flavour – before then we’re taking of any advantage to get the tomato scent from the growing plants. It’s similar with the potatos. A lovely post Celi. J says it’s good to see the fields, even if it is only from the bottom of a main ditch!

  7. Wonderful farm tour this morning. The animals love the sun don’t they… Also, does Ton Ton ever put that stick down? I believe truly that I have only seen one picture of him out and about in the working parts of the farm without any sort of stick in his mouth. It’s as if it just grows there 😉

  8. I’d say you were already very permaculture, even if you don’t accept labels. You use all the space you have, you guard your soil against erosion and your pasture against spoiling, you make use of what is to hand (I’m thinking pallets and baler twine!) and your animals till the soil and manure it without the use of large quantities of artificial substances. There is no doubt you will leave your land in better heart than you found it.

  9. The color of your sky is just delicious! And the markings of your sweet pigs! Even that turquoise gate! We are still suffering from “monchromaticitis”~ a little known term that describes a condition that strikes folks in the far north during times of boring weather where the surrounding color is dominated by white. I know I’ve already said it~ but so glad you are home!

  10. Have you done any reading about the “No Till” method of farming? Have you heard of Jean Martin Fortier’s book
    “The Market Gardener?” He has some great information. You’re already cover cropping, which not only helps with fertility, but also decreases your weed seed bank. Some folks are planting a cover crop and then rolling it down and then planting right through the debris. The rolled down cover crop forms a mulch and suppresses weeds. Fortier covers beds using thick landscape fabric, and folks even use old billboard tarps. This encourages the weeds to sprout and then die from lack of sun. It creates a sterile seed bed to plant in. We’re going to be experimenting more with these techniques at our farm. Stay tuned!

    • I do hate the landscape fabrics – too much plastic for me and I think soil needs to breathe freely but I am interested in that roll down method – that sounds like something I could try. Mostly though we fight weeds for a four or five years and then the fight goes out of the weeds. Once really established after years of weeding gardens are so much easier to manage. I bet your gardens are coming along in your big tunnel houses.. c

      • I’m pretty sure I saw some landscape fabric that slowly biodegrades. In theory by the time it’s gone most of the weeds and weed seeds are kaput. Funny, lately it seems every farm related magazine and newspaper I’ve seen is full of articles on cover crops and amending the soil so as to reduce the use of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. Much of it is aimed at larger farms. Almost gives one hope!

      • Oh, and I envy you soil dry enough to work. We’re still so squishy here I feel guilty walking on the lawn!

  11. The sun on everyone looks delightful. I too would bask in it if I knew what it looked like here. Rain, rain, and more rain. At least it’s not freezing. I do hope you get it all in order today. Everyone there looks so content. Have a wonderful Sunday.

  12. Good morning C. There are now landscape fabrics that are just that…fabric…and not plastic at all. They are almost meshy in their texture…water and nutrients penetrate right through them and the soil is allowed to breathe, which I also think is very important! I have areas where I have used them almost like a mulch to suppress weeds and it is easy to cut through it for planting. They are almost a must here in the Northwest where our weeds grow year around!
    I don’t think I’ve ever seen Ton without a stick in his mouth! 🙂

  13. I left the guys a little review on Trip Advisor and they wrote a lovely message back…part of it is to you, so do read it if you get a chance!

  14. For some reason I’m able to muscle in n the comments before loads of other people do today !
    I enclose two comments from previous days that I know you haven’t had time to look at !!!!!
    That picture of your dogs yesterday, intelligently guarding a recalcitrant pig until you came to sort him out was simply wonderful. It spoke such volumes about the way your dogs think and act in your best interests every moment of the day….
    I hope you found my comment about the beauty of the detail and love you put into everything that happens in the farmy – a life well lived , and such an inspiration. with love, valerie

  15. I’m back from my jaunting round India, had a wonderful time, and came back to a well tended and weed free garden courtesy of the house-sitters, but I think she might’ve used some weed killer here and there and I’m not happy about that, as I’d been very clear… poisons. She must’ve bought some, as I don’t keep it. They also planted out the tomatoes, basil and eggplants I hadn’t had time to do, and they’re flourishing! The water and rock melons I planted in the large veggie garden to suppress the weeds have run rampant and as a bonus, I might get some fruit too. Come cooler weather, I’ll start planting my winter crops in amongst the dying vines…..I’m also interested in that roll down method that Margaret Mehaffay mentioned. Now for my 2nd cuppa while I catch up on a month of Farmy goings-on 🙂

  16. Doing what you can with what you’ve got is real life. I bought for the empty half of our vege garden a couple of seed packets of Mr Fothergill’s Green Manure Mix -Fenugreek, Oats, Sub Clover, Wooly Pod Vetch, french White Millet, Buckwheat, Broccoli Rapa- intending to use a similar practice to the roll down method to grow it over winter then chop it in before it set seed. But before I could do it, the G.O. planted it out with potatoes. That also is real life…

  17. Here’s a lovely word: apricity. It is the warmth of the sun felt on a wintry day. The sun is warm but all else is cold.

  18. I found myself wanting sun glasses yesterday! We’ve now had two days in the low 50s, and I’m surprised how much of the snow has survived. But I think it’ll rain today and might get to almost 60(!) tomorrow, so that snow had better say its goodbyes. We’re still a long way off from tilling, though. I can’t wait to check out that permaculture link! I’ve got a book about permaculture that I keep going back to, and it always feels so inaccessible — not the book, but the practice. How do you get going when you don’t have the $$ or time to do it all at once? I’m sure there must be a way!

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