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Julie Williams

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since Dec 21, 2017
North Central Florida, subtropical zone 8b
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Recent posts by Julie Williams

My husband found a YouTube video from Priefert called "Working Horned Cattle"... it is, of course, an ad for their headgate, but he said it was actually informative. I have not watched it because our newly-reconditioned headgate is not yet installed on our not-yet-built corral and chute.
4 weeks ago
Jordan, you sent me down the rabbit hole with those links! I got caught up in reading the website and got lots of future plan ideas...back to the list, now I have to figure out if any of those grains are appropriate for Florida, and if I can source them locally. Thanks!

Ellendra, I'll check into Baker Creek, but have only done veggie seeds from them so far.

*edited to correct auto-correct spelling mistakes and reply to additional comment.
I'm planning on a couple different clovers so we'll have it mostly year-round. I can get it in 50lb bags locally - grasses also. But I'd like to go above and beyond "normal" pasture...was looking at Kerzna, but it doesn't seem to be available yet. There's a perennial&heirloom grain site up in Canada, but it doesn't look like those varieties would do well here. I might end up having to contact the land trust and see if they would let me test the Kerzna.
I don't have any specific ones on a must-have list. I'm aiming to have self-sustaining pasture that still looks nice (because my husband wants it to be pretty)...if I can get some deep-rooted perennial wheat, oats, rye, clover, etc, we can use a mowing schedule along with rotation to capture water and fertility...we're in what's called "xeric sand hills" so nothing sticks around for long. I'd rather avoid amaranth because it gets weedy quick in our climate.

I feel like if we can get some deep roots going underground, we'll be able to start building up above-ground.
I've been reading about perennial grains lately. Seems like a good thing to grow in my pastures...but where to get them? It looks like all kinds of research and breeding is being done, but I haven't found anywhere to actually buy least, not anywhere that is even slightly affordable! We have cows, sheep, pigs and chickens that rotate through 5 sections.
Currently all Bahia Pensacola with a healthy population of dog fennel and beauty berry...north central Florida, hot summers and warmish winters with a few frosts but very little actual freeze. Summer is supposed to be the rainy season but this past one wasn't really.
Suggestions for planting that I won't have to reseed every year?
We have a small farm in North Central Florida - long, hot summers, normally a decent rainy season although this past year there was not nearly as much as usual. Our very short winter can get in the 20s at night even though days are seldom below 60. Very sandy soil, fairly alkaline. Lime has been recommended but we can't afford it right now.

We have about 25 acres of pasture to renovate/improve for cattle, sheep and guinea hogs. Cows and sheep are Florida Crackers, native breeds that are parasite resistant and great at subsistence foraging. Currently have 12 cows, at least 4 of which are bred, 4 sheep with 3 bred. 5 guinea hogs with 2 litters on the way. (Figure future numbers when planning!)

Property was fenced but not cross-fenced. So far, we've gotten fencing up for 3, +/- 3 acre pastures. Between the aisleway, pond plan and our yard, we have about 12 acres to go - plans are for a 5-acre pasture and a 7-acre orchard or to plant all 12 in industrial hemp, now that it is legal here. There might be a house going in on the 7-acre parcel in the future.

For now, I'd like to concentrate on the 3 pastures that are completely fenced, with shelters over the pass-through gates. Cows and sheep are rotated through with one pasture between them so the parcels have time to rest. We are using all 5 parcels, so they go through 3, 3, 3, 5 then 7 acres, then start again. Guinea hogs are normally let out daily, although we're keeping them in their pen right now so they don't pop their babies out in cow country. After animals move through, we drag the pasture to spread out and incorporate the manure into the soil.

We can't afford any additional fencing right now, and my husband is recovering from a couple surgeries so won't be able to "help" for several more months - perfect timing for me to get started since we have very different ideas about what makes a healthy pasture.

If I get it started and it works, he'll continue what I'm doing - but if I wait to start when he's recovered, there will be some nasty chemicals involved along with several "oops, shouldn't have done that" type of experiences.

The main green stuff is Bahia Pensacola, with live oak trees scattered around. The previous owner didn't do much for about 5 years before we bought it, so there were tons of cactus, dog fennel and beauty berries. We've gotten rid of the cactus in 1&2 - mostly by hand digging (several weekends of cussing the spines while we pulled them out of our fingers...)

So given all this, what would be some suggestions for pasture plants? I'd like to end up with a variety of grasses and forage that is heat and cold tolerant, nutritious and low-or-no maintenance.

We're not going to do mob grazing, mainly because we don't have the money for the electric tape and we haven't gotten the water lines run yet...and I don't have time to move them daily - I'm working full time, doing most of the farm chores and all the housekeeping stuff. This needs to be done on my 1 or 2 days off per week.

Thanks for any ideas or advice!

4 months ago
I am by no means an expert...but what about doing both? Plant your windbreaks then also have strategically placed trees dotting the pastures?

A few questions come to mind, though:
1-where are you located? Zone? Rainfall? Temps?
2-what is your plan for grass/hay/forage/browse? You mentioned the evergreens and apples, but what else? Are you going to grow hay or more of a meadow?
3-what breeds are you planning to stock, and how many of each?  This will help you decide #2 - as an example, my Cracker Cows are great foragers and can pretty much eat anything, but I wouldn't want a dairy cow eating strong-flavored plants.
4-are you planning to build shelters in the pastures? Also helps decide Crackers have no problem with wind and rain, but the Holsteins run for cover. The sheep don't seem to care (also Crackers, hardy and parasite resistant) and the guinea hogs only care when there are piglets.
4 months ago
I'm in north central Florida. These pans are HEAVY! I can't hang them on the wall because it's a double wide...the baker's rack is bowing from the weight of the pans. And I have more in various stages of resuscitation.
8 months ago
In my quest to downsize, I realized I have WAY more cast iron than I need. I went through a phase where I wanted to save all the old cast iron that I found...and I was working in a thrift store at the time!  So all things being equal ( size and level of cleaning and seasoning) would you choose Wagner or Griswold? And why?
8 months ago
In addition to making sure the straw is out for walnut. It can sometimes stunt growth of plants near it.

If you have sandy soil like mine in Florida, it could help retain a lot of water. If you already have drainage issues, it could make them worse.

Maybe try a test plot, with some buried and some used as mulch right next to it?