Chickens in Field

Chickens in Greener Pastures

This is a photo of some of our chickens out in the south field pastures during greener times. Right now that area is under about two feet of hard packed snow. We just got another eight inches of snow and an inch is predicted for tonight.

The south field is our oldest field. It was about half as big when we moved here over twenty years ago. We cleared it back to the original stone walls leaving the stumps of the regrown forest low cut so as not to disturb the soil layers and allow the nutrients to come back into the soil. It is a slower way than bringing in bulldozers but better – and certainly cheaper. Some of the stumps put up regen suckers which made for the small trees you can see here. The sheep and pigs trimmed the bottom branches creating an open grass grazing area under the trees. Truly delightful spaces for the livestock and us.

With the much larger clearing we did ten years ago and then again larger in 2009 we followed this same method. It will take ten years for the new pastures to be hayable fields as much of the south field is now and even then I am leaving spots of brush and trees for shelter. This creates a diversity of habitats both for our domestic livestock and for wildlife.

So there is greenery to remind me that not all the world is as white and refrigerated as our pastures. In as little as a month we should see earth and maybe even shoots of grasses popping up.

Outdoors: 50°F/25°F Sunny, 8″ Snow yesterday
Tiny Cottage: 64°F/58°F

Daily Spark: Never regret breakfast because you can’t unscramble eggs and you can’t make a pig out of bacon.

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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4 Responses to Chickens in Field

  1. Emily Arsdon says:

    I love the pics of your farm. The are so pastoral. So real. So the way things should be. I paint and am always looking for inspiration and you give me much. I see other farm blogs where the animals are in the mud and it makes me sick. They are ‘out-doors’ but there isn’t a blade of grass, just mud, mud, mud and more mud. They are really just feedlots even though they claim to be like you do it. I hope you show people that it is possible to do it right, to have animals even like pigs and chickens out on the green pastures. It is so much healthier for the animals, for the land, for the plants, for the planet and for us too also as the consumers.

  2. Some mud in the spring is normal, especially in the sacrificial winter paddocks that will become gardens over the summer. However the animals shouldn’t be in mud all the time and there are some locations that simply are not suitable for putting livestock as well as the whole issue of having too high a density. Having the animals out on real pasture is a joy.

    We have lots of land so for us pasturing works wonderfully. Part of why we got livestock was because we like the pastures being open. The grazing animals create more bio-diversity. What a lot of people don’t realize is that under the dense canopy of a mature forest there is actually very little food and little plant or animal diversity. The same goes for very large grasslands. It is really the margins where the diversity is greatest.

  3. NYJill says:

    I love the photo of the chickens and pasture. That is soo the way things should be. We have green grass here. I’ll wish some your way. Your dogs are beautiful. I clicked through the link to your wife’s beautiful drawings and saw the one of her and your dog. Such a splendid animal! Tell Holly she is very talented.

  4. Susan Lea says:

    You have my sympathy for the snow! I’ll add my wishes for green grass.

    I like what you wrote about clearing land. We recently cleared underbrush out of a small bit of woods behind our house and included it in the new pasture my husband just fenced. We left small trees, hoping they’ll grow larger and provide even more shade. Our problem here is the opposite of yours–someone cleared the fields so completely that there’s hardly a tree for shade. We’re looking for little seedlings that we can put fence around and let grow to give more shade. If we should ever decide to clear any of our 8 acres of woods, we’ll definitely remember your system!

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