Piglets Nursing on Quartermane
These piglets, part of a litter of nine, are out of Blackie’s line. Black is recessive to white, thus the mix of colors.
Today Ben and Will finished fencing paddocks in the south field for the Underhill sows with their new piglets and for the House End growers. The pastures are lush with grasses, clovers, kale, rape and other delicious forages. They ran the new fencing roughly parallel to the contour lines of our land so the livestock will terrace the land. The sows have eaten most of the grass in Underhill and the growers have grazed down almost all of the area they had been in so now is a good time to switch them into new paddocks.
As the animals move out of paddocks Hope and I planted about five acres of purple globe turnips, radishes, broccoli, mint, chives and leaks. These tough plants do well in our climate and are good fodder, increasing the protein levels of our pastures. They are all spreading seeds that we just cast to the wind – that makes seeding easy which is important as we’re clinging to the side of a mountain.
The rains we’re getting drive the seeds into the soil. Spreading them behind the animals just before they move out of an area also is a good trick for planting that works even with larger seeds like corn, sunflowers and pumpkins. Just don’t do those while the chickens are near. Frost seeding is another of my favorite low effort techniques.
Most of our land is too steep and far too rocky for machine cultivation. We can’t grow and then harvest crops on a large scale for human consumption at a price consumers would want to pay. By having the animals help we are able to harvest the grass, legumes and other forages people can’t digest plus the crops we hand seed into the pastures. This makes marginal mountain land productive.
I say most of our land is too rocky and steep. There are terraces that are growing on the mountain, quite purposefully. Some we’ve built with digging machines, e.g., the tractor, and others we create by having the animals shift the soil. By having our fences run roughly along the slopes the animals keep pushing soil down to the lower fence. In time this creates a terrace.
I came up with this method because I noticed in the woods that on the uphill sides of a fallen tree and the uphill sides of stone walls settlers had built centuries ago terraces were created by soil shifting down the mountain. Using the livestock I speed this process up a bit.
Along the rises of the terraces we’re planting apple trees, pear trees, fruit bushes and such. Double fence lines keep the animals from the fruit trees but let them get the droppings. Smaller animals creep for the stuff that falls between the fence lines.
Even with the terracing there is the problem of rocks sprouting out of our thin soil. You would not want to try running a tiller over our soil at this time. We’re pulling the rocks out and building stone walls, just as people have done for hundreds of years before us. Where we’re not right on the ledge there is a large supply of replacement rocks down deep in the soil which seems to keep popping up every spring. Good thing I like working with rock.
Outdoors: 72°F/43°F Sunny with Spots of Light Rain
Tiny Cottage: 62°F/41°F
Daily Spark: 42.7% of all statistics are made up on the spot. -Steven Wright