• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Newbie questions about hay planting  RSS feed

 
                          
Posts: 10
Location: Driftless region, Wisconsin
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi All,

Just discovered these forums a couple weeks ago, and I am impressed!  This is what I've been looking for on the internet.....

I just bought 40 acres of beautiful ridgetop land in the driftless region of SW Wisconsin.  20 acres tillable, ringed by 20 acres of woods.  The tillable land has been in a conventional corn/soy rotation for the past 15 years or so.  Luckily, last year was a soy year.  My job keeps me on the road most of the year, so turning this land into a self-sustaining homestead is going to be a bit by bit process.

My plan for this spring is to plant hay on nearly all of the bare tillable land.  Eventually, I see having only about half of it in hay, but I figure for now I would rather have 20 acres of hay than 10 acres of hay and 10 acres of queen annes lace and wild parsnip.....  Here are my questions for the forum:

-I'd like some advice on what sort of a mixture I should plant.  We plan on having a couple of goats and a flock of chickens in the next year or two.  The soil has a decent "crumb" to it already, easy to sink a spade into, mostly clay.  The farmer who had been farming it tilled as little as he could. 

-How should I plant it?  My partner and I want to see just how much we can do without the help of fossil fuels, so we would like to broadcast the seed by hand.  I have heard that this can be done when there is still a little snow on the ground (to help see where you've cast), and that a few freeze/thaw cycles will work the seed into the ground.  My worry is that I will just be throwing birdseed out there......

We have been living on a friends homestead for the past few years, raising goats, chickens, turkeys, and about an acre of vegetables, but we have zero experience with hay (besides buying it and feeding it to the goats!).

Thanks in advance, I'm really looking forward to learning from and contributing to these forums.

Elliott
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9742
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
184
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Personally I would plant native grasses, legumes, and other native forbs.  Research Wisconsin prairie. 

http://prairiefrontier.com/
 
Mike Dayton
Posts: 149
Location: sw pa zone 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Congrats on buying your new place.  I think your plan of starting off with hay and working up from there makes alot of sence.  I agree that native grasses may have some advantages,  but since you already have the goats,  and have been feeding them Hay,  why not see what type of hay they like the best and plant some of that.  Just a thought,  the hay is after all being grown for them.  It might make sense to feed them something they like the best. 
 
                          
Posts: 10
Location: Driftless region, Wisconsin
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ludi - We love the idea of returning some of this open land to native prairie grasses, but quite frankly we don't have the money to buy the seed right now.  We have some friends who have some great prairies, and we'd like to do some seed collecting in the next few years, but right now I'd like to just put in a hardy hay crop that can cover this bare ground while I'm out on the road building America! (I'm a journeyman ironworker.....)

Friendly guy - Thanks!  That's a great idea.  I'll ask the goats, or rather my girlfriend, who is the goat-whisperer on this team.  Although want to make some considerations for the land itself as well, get some good deep roots in there to help build my organic matter content.  Also, what mix will work well together?  A quick search of the forums for "hay guild" doesn't turn up any results.

Anyone have any insight on the seeding question?
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9742
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
184
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Just make sure whatever you plant won't be a pest in the future when you want to try to transition to prairie.  For instance here we have King Ranch Bluestem which is originally from Africa, I think.  It lodges horribly and kills itself and other plants out.  Just hateful stuff that makes planting natives that much more difficult.  You might be able to find a foundation prairie grass with affordable seed, such as perhaps a native bluestem.  Because prairie restoration is becoming more common, some types of seed are being grown in large quantities and sold less expensively.  You have to shop around. 

A native or non-invasive adapted clover might be a good choice as an interim hay crop.

 
Paula Edwards
Posts: 411
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I would plant some trees too. Trees are always good. Some nuts, timber, fruit whatever a good mixture. You have to separate this from your goats. If the trees are a bit bigger you can run some sheep with them, they don't destroy bigger trees.
Are you both working full time? Because so much land is a huge amount of work! Especially if you want to do things by hand.
 
                          
Posts: 10
Location: Driftless region, Wisconsin
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We are planning on planting some fruit trees, and perhaps some evergreens for some windbreaks in a couple places, but we do have 20 acres of great woods, including loads of shagbark hickory. 

I travel with my work, and I try to keep it to just the colder months, giving me the warmer months to be productive on the farm.  My girlfriend will be working part time and living on the land year round (thanks baby!).
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
289
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Alfalfa might be a good choice (if your goats like it).  It will fix nitrogen into the soil while growing (and add even more if/when you plow it under).  It is perennial so you will not need to keep buying seed.  It has a deep and massive root structure which will help keep your soil loose while it is growing, and provide lots of deep organic matter to the soil once tilled under.
Good luck on your endeavor.
 
Royal A. Purdy
Posts: 4
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
To: Elliott
From: Royal A. Purdy, A. H. Tuttle and Company
Re: Driftless region suggestions

Elliott,                                                                                                      02/22/2011 AM

I’ve just finished a low resolution “keyline” plan for a farm in this same region. My “Clear Choice – Elysian” work mainly  involves deriving solutions for pasture based situations such as yours.

The ambient seed load on most any land would be sufficient to allow it to manifest on its own with some dedicated grazing management effort from you and your herd animals, but if you are also interested to cheaply “get something else going” I would advise folks to consider frost seeding Red Clover seed by hand (five to fifteen lbs. per acre – I tend to go lighter rates than most recommendations); as it will only enhance the type ground you describe and a clover – timothy hay mix as much easier to hay than straight clover alone. Both types – safely harvested would be quite valuable on the open hay market or as in-house feed as well.

If “Bird-feed” avoidance is of a real concern, then a light coating of any regional clay slip will prevent that via a Fukuoka seed pellet coating we advocate for our readers and mentored client base; but it is mostly unnecessary.

If frost seeding – wait until a late winter or early spring windless morning (April around here) around four or five AM, when the frost is hard but most if not all snow is gone and broadcast as well as you can manage. A split application (1/2 seeding rate once over in one direction – the other half in the other direction) will cover well with a seed fiddle or you can “spin” it on with a hand seeder.

All this will take time to establish but have patients and it will most likely come around.


Be safe,

Sincerely,

Royal A. Purdy
Clear Choice © - Elysian ©; and Yeomans Plow Dealer, Sales and Service
A. H. Tuttle and Company
1007 County Road 8
Farmington, NY.  14425
www.ahtuttle.com
www.clearchoicepastures.blogspot.com
rapurdy@ahtuttle.com
(315)-986-7007
Skype = clearchoiceelysian
Facebook = Clear Choice - Elysian

Yeomans Plow Shanks, ...as your soil gets richer - so do you!
 
                          
Posts: 10
Location: Driftless region, Wisconsin
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks Royal!!  Great info.
 
Kelly Vaughn
Posts: 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
After watching a video on another site, my thought process brought up the idea of Hay from the Permie point of view. I am very happy I found this forum with Royal and other members answers. Very informative.
 
Beware the other head of science - it bites! Nibble on this message:
Complete Wild Edibles Package by Sergei Boutenko (1 HD video + 10 eBooks)
https://permies.com/t/70674/digital-market/digital-market/Complete-Wild-Edibles-Package-Sergei
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!