Field Bed and Natural Terracing


Pigs in South Field Copse

The pigs in the south field herd have a large nesting area on the sunny side of a copse of trees in the upper paddock which they’re using as a winter paddock this year. Behind them you can see the greenhouse skeleton rising on the southern south field plateau.

It is well protected from the north wind and has excellent southern exposure, especially in the morning. That combined with the composting bedding provides them with a warm sleeping spot through the colder winter months.

They walk about 700′ north through the copse and then up over the rise to their water and the south whey trough. This walk means they’re getting good exercise as well as spreading manure and urine that then will fertilize all the south field paddocks next year. The nutrients slowly filter down hill to the lower paddocks, breaking at each line of trees.

We fence mostly along the contours of the land because back in the 1980’s, I noticed that when a tree fell in the forest, and nobody was there, and if it fell across the slope, with the contour, then soil would build up behind the log creating small terraces of rich deep soil in the 1,000 acre woods. Similarly this effect happens behind the stone walls that cross our mountain such that on the up hill sides of the walls the soil is often even or near even with the tops of the walls but drops down on the low side of the wall. Another place I noticed this effect was uphill of large boulders, something of which we have many.

Seeing the stepping effect produced by this terracing action I realized that, if I were patient, I could make terraces of deep soil to catch the water and nutrients that normally flow down the mountain and away to the valley below. Thus I fence as much as possible with the contours of the land so that the soil is moved down to the fence lines where it builds up. Along those fence lines we plant trees and the grasses grow longer capturing dirt and nutrients.

Natural terracing through the action of wind, frost, rain and hooves.

Outdoors: 30°F/14°F Overcast, 3″ Snow
Tiny Cottage: 65°F/60°F

Daily Spark: I often see people jump in to things too quickly. Rember: Dive slowly.

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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6 Responses to Field Bed and Natural Terracing

  1. traye says:

    We are at the beginning of our adventure, we bought 25 acres last August and building our herd and flocks. Patchfarmstead.com It’s really low here and think thick thick growth, I have not been able to walk the whole thing yet, I’m about at 80 percent, the last five acres are going to be a beast and I might have to chainsaw and cut my way into it, every time I go out I change my mind as what is going to be the best way to divide it up into paddocks for the future herds. You are a great inspiration.

    Right now we have 3 8 month old gilts 2 of whom I think just started to point up, with their boar on about 5 acres of mixed forest and bottom land, with additional access to an acre and half of pasture. I have a bred sow and two 3 month old gilts to add to the herd after a couple more weeks of quarantine. We have berkshire, berk/yorkshire, tam/durock, and yorkshire with a berkshire boar, figured we would get a mix going and over the years find out what is going to work best in our conditions.

    My biggest fear (only one really) is moldy hay. Whether for bedding or feed not much I can really do about it, our temperature and humidity are perfect for growing fungus.

    • Some funguses are fine, like those that grow up and fruit out of the hay. But there are molds that can produce mycotoxins and that is where the problem is especially for the fetuses in gestating sows and young pigs as they have a lower body mass so smaller amounts of the toxins harm them more easily.

      • traye says:

        Mycotoxins I fear. Pretty much 12 months we have conditions to make mold here. I have a feeding area (roof made from old 8 ft satellite dish) where I can put hay but they seem to like their alfalfa pushed out into the wet and stomped before they eat it.

  2. Jami says:

    This is great to read about. Up to now I’ve only been picturing how to slow down water run off during my winters, but now I’ll be adding soil keeping as well to my plans.

    Thanks Walter, you’re such an inspiration.

  3. Peter says:

    Does the dog pack chase the heffelumps out of the 1000 Acre Wood? ;-)

    • They do. The pack is very particular about making sure heffelumps stay in their right places. Interestingly, the dogs know every one of the heffelumps, as well as other stock, as individuals. If one heffelump gets into the wrong paddock, field or territory the dogs are very insistent about moving it back to its proper place. They’re a bit OCD like this. Very handy. One dog is worth about five humans for the work they do and they love their jobs, 24/7.

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