Winter Pig Trail
While technically, by the calendar, it may be spring, it is still winter here on the mountain. As such, the pigs are sticking close to their winter trails where the snow is packed hard making travel easy.
All livestock, and wild animals, naturally spread their manure out over the landscape. This contrasts with a penned situation they might pick one corner of their confined space as their toilet. The manure being evenly spread across the landscape is better for the soil and better for the plants.
Plants count on this quirk of animals as a way to spread their seeds. A little bit of cooperative co-evolution. Seeds are inside a hard coating that lets many of them pass through the animals such that they are spread around and deposited in warm, wet dollops of fertile manure where they can sprout.
I use this behavior by setting up the livestock’s winter sleeping areas distant from their water and food areas. This creates paths that I set to primarily move with the contours of the land. The action of hoof, nose, wind, rain and frost creates terraces along the lower fence lines of paddocks and trails. These catch water and nutrients preventing erosion and keeping our fertility on our land. The manure and urine is thus captured in the flats created by the paddocks and in these boundary zones which can ideally be double fence lines to create forage buffers that seed pastures, protect fruit trees, act as creeps for the smallest animals and provide habitat for wildlife.
During the winter the long trails means that the animals do much of their toiletry out away from their bedding, water and food zones which helps to keep things cleaner and spread the valuable nutrients across the side of the mountain where they’ll be needed in the spring.
White snow reflects about 80% of the light so that it does not melt as quickly in the spring sun. Dirty snow is more like dirt at about 20% reflectivity and thus about 80% absorption. This makes the paths melt faster so the nutrients can then start soaking into the soil.
The trails are some of the first areas to melt due to their lower albedo. Since our soil has little frost depth due to early and deep snow the nutrients are then able to soak right into the land where they’ll benefit the spring flush of growth. Because the livestock use narrow trails, just like animals in the wild, the root damage is kept to a minimum. When they shift to the next paddock these trails immediately spring back with fresh growth.
Outdoors: 44°F/9°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 66°F/62°F
Daily Spark: Don’t eat brown snow.