The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

We Are Grass

June 6th, 2017 · 1 Comment · Posted in Blog, farming


It’s another dreary day–cool and rainy. The last few weeks seemed more like March. Still, I’ve managed finally to get ahead of the grass that would consume us this time of year if extraordinary measures were not taken.

We have a multi-wire, electric perimeter fence nearly a mile long surrounding the farm and foliage has to be kept off it or it loses power. Walking the outside of the perimeter with a line trimmer (aka weed whacker)  is one of my most onerous chores. Yet it must be done not once or twice but usually three times each season. Fortunately,  I’m equipped with one of my favorite tools: a four-stroke Honda trimmer. I use an extra-thick line, and if I attack before  weeds get too tall, I can clear a wide swath as well as under the bottom wire. It takes about eight hours to make the whole distance. Watch your posture and your back won’t hurt too badly.

Our semi-permanent electric fencing that separates our various pastures–the low-voltage netting that keeps the sheep and goats and cows where they belong–requires a somewhat different treatment. These fences also loose power as grass encroaches. I have to pull up the fencing (we have probably 400 yards of it) and cut a path with the mower. For that I use our 28-horsepower, four-wheel-drive diesel tractor with a five-foot mower deck set low. Even with the mechanical assist, maintaining the fences is a lot of work and it never ends so long as the grass keeps growing.

Finally, I mow the pastures, about 12 acres plus the orchard. We simply don’t have enough animals to eat all that grass in the spring. Then in the heat of summer, when the grass goes dormant, we pray there’s enough for the livestock to feed on. It’s a vicious cycle.

I find that mowing improves the pastures. The grass grows more lush, the most noxious weeds–milkweed and goldenrod–disappear. It’s a sight to behold after a spring rain, brilliant green spreading from fence line to fence line, ruminants grazing contentedly.

I’m just so glad when that work is done.

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  • marie

    I’m with you on fences —- weird things happen to electric fence that are not obvious like downed trees. We trim and also spray the fence line to keep them hot, so the cows and sheep are not in the road.