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Grace Gierucki
Posts: 35
Location: Southern Michigan
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Hello, I'm not sure this is the right forum but these 3 acres are headed towards pasture- someday.  I have a 3 acre parcel next to the house that is just sitting, and will be basically untouched for the next 2-3 years.  It's an old horse pasture that's grown up into small brush and above the knee grasses.  Is there a reason to mow or not mow it? My neighbor can brush hog it down super fast for me but I wasn't sure if I should. My idea was to mow it 2-3 times just to encourage more biomass growth, our clay soils can use as much organic matter as possible and it will be easier to add animals someday with less brush.   Thank you
 
Amit Enventres
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Location: Ohio, USA
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Mowing will help set it back to grass only where it wants to convert to brush, then trees. Make sure the mowing doesn't leave huge chunks of biomass snuffing out the grass, if your trying to get that to grow. Animals need shade to be at optimal health, so if there's some trees trying to grow, you may want to let them, as long as they aren't toxic to your animals.

Now grass is great for grazers, but brush is good for browsers and provides shelter for small animals. If you are going to have a mixed heard, you might want to leave it as is.

Another note is that tall grass scattered with brush here means tick habitat and it's supposed to be a bad year.

Good luck!
 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau Grace, what animals do you plan to use this pasture for?
Cows, Sheep, Horses and hogs are grazers and will prefer grasses with some trees around for shade in the heat of the day.
Goats, Donkeys and other browsers will love the brush along with a little grass.
Both groups will need shade trees but you could just add those now so they can get a fair amount of growth on them prior to the animals coming onsite. 

Have you given any thought to whether or not you would best benefit from creating a Silvopasture?
This is what we are doing with our land, trees are left so there are shady areas but it is open enough for swaths of grasses to grow well.
Ticks can be fairly well controlled by a flock of guinea fowl.

Amit has made great points, with the time frame you mention, you have a great opportunity to direct this land in the direction you want it to go.

Redhawk
 
Grace Gierucki
Posts: 35
Location: Southern Michigan
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Amit Enventres wrote:Mowing will help set it back to grass only where it wants to convert to brush, then trees. Make sure the mowing doesn't leave huge chunks of biomass snuffing out the grass, if your trying to get that to grow. Animals need shade to be at optimal health, so if there's some trees trying to grow, you may want to let them, as long as they aren't toxic to your animals.

Now grass is great for grazers, but brush is good for browsers and provides shelter for small animals. If you are going to have a mixed heard, you might want to leave it as is.

Another note is that tall grass scattered with brush here means tick habitat and it's supposed to be a bad year.

Good luck!

We're just north of you and I can assure you this is going to be the WORST tick season, I pulled one off my three month old yesterday.  I do have a few scattered trees along the edges that I'm leaving but will be planting a few more shade trees next year.  The brush that's in this pasture is awful, I don't know what it is but it has incredibly sharp and large spikes that will poke right through a leather glove and it grows very fast.
When we mow I'll collect the clumps to add to the compost pile, we never have too much carbon in there. 
Thank you
 
Grace Gierucki
Posts: 35
Location: Southern Michigan
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:hau Grace, what animals do you plan to use this pasture for?
Cows, Sheep, Horses and hogs are grazers and will prefer grasses with some trees around for shade in the heat of the day.
Goats, Donkeys and other browsers will love the brush along with a little grass.
Both groups will need shade trees but you could just add those now so they can get a fair amount of growth on them prior to the animals coming onsite. 

Have you given any thought to whether or not you would best benefit from creating a Silvopasture?
This is what we are doing with our land, trees are left so there are shady areas but it is open enough for swaths of grasses to grow well.
Ticks can be fairly well controlled by a flock of guinea fowl.

Amit has made great points, with the time frame you mention, you have a great opportunity to direct this land in the direction you want it to go.

Redhawk


Thanks for the reply.  I'm hoping for a combination of cows and goats, followed around by the poultry.  I will be adding a few shade trees but the existing bushes are dangerous, the spikes are too sharp and too long.  I may have to see if I can add some guineas to our flock, the chickens do an okay job in the gardens and edges of the field but don't seem very motivated to head into the deep grasses.
I think I will mow it once or twice this year and then just keep it trimmed back in the areas we're working on. Maybe mowing will help slow the spread of the reeds too.
Thank you
 
Amit Enventres
Posts: 458
Location: Ohio, USA
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Oh, I think I know that thing. I have some I am working to get rid of. The thorns are really like little sticks and can be like 3" long. It gets about 8' tall and has dark stems and simple leaves. I heard it called thorn tree here, though I think it might be some sort of hawthorn, but I'm not sure. It makes berries, but nothing ate them so I assume poisonous. I cut one down and the stick started growing in my wood pile. Yeah, I'm all for eliminating those until I can find a better use. I did bend one shoot that regrew in a circle, then it branched off the circle, so I think I can make some nice baskets out of it. So that's one use. On the other hand, you might not need that many in your pasture.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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hau Grace, it is probable that your thorny bushes are buckthorn, according to the Michigan plant board, this is an "invasive species" that spreads rapidly.
Leaves are lobed sort of like a mulberry tree leaf. Thorns can be along the stems and the branch tips, berries are red turning deep blue as they ripen.

Mowing those down is indeed a good idea, and you might want to do that on a regular basis for a year to exhaust the energy of those so they will die.

Redhawk
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
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Mowing sounds like a good idea to me.Does your neighbor have any control over the cutting depth?  I have goats, and after they eat an area, I go through and mow down the things they did not eat,so as to put them on even footing with the plants the goats like to eat.  But if I mow things down too low, the regeneration time is a lot longer.  I suggest that as you make your mowing plan, consider where the plants are in their growing cycle, and try to encourage fast regrowth by strategic mowing.

As for the residue that may be "too much" for the plants, may smother them, I raking into long parallel rows would be worth trying. creating some areas that are open to sunlight and some that have the protection of a blanket of "wood chips" type of material, hugel culture with out the earth over top.  I might be tempted to try heaping  larger amounts over those thorn bushes you have described, possibly it would make it harder for them to be alive.  The residue would moderate all the environmental parameters, eg  temperature and moisture.  My theory is that you would encourage more different kinds of soil micro organisms by creating different sets of soil conditions both under and not under the berms of residue.

And if you were thinking  of planting some other species of trees, you could plant them next to your heaps/berms/rows of stuff.

It's kind of handy you have a few years to do this pasture improvement project.

Keep us posted on what you decide to try, what happens, and what you decide to do next.
 
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