There are two spots in my back field where timothy is growing. Each plot is only about 50′ x 50′. Nevertheless, they encouraging. Most of the field is nutsedge, goldenrod, briar, burdock, raspberries, poplar saplings, and other weeds that can survive the acid soil. Though they keep the field a pretty green, they are almost all inedible.
The timothy is growing in the path taken by my manure spreader for two summers. The thick dressing of manure on those sections lifted the soil pH enough to allow the seeds from the waste hay to take root.
This summer, those small stands of timothy were my spur to get the back field fenced. In late June, between other chores, I managed to pound posts and string electric line to enclose one of the plots. By that time, the timothy was mature hay. In the photo above, there are four cattle lying contentedly in the timothy, chewing cud.
The animals grazed off the small plot in one night. When Allen was mowing the farm in July, I took down the fence and had him mow off the stalky remains.
By mid-August the timothy was again thick (by my pasture’s standards), and about 8″ high. I restrung the fence lines and turned the cows back out in it.
Now it was tender second growth. What excitement! What delight!
The cattle galloped, bucked, and snorted in ecstasy, tearing greedy mouthfuls and wheeling to buck again, before all settling down to serious eating.
I went home that night and exclaimed to DH, “It makes me so happy to see my cows so happy!”
He gave me a quizzical smile, but after thirty years the odd things that bring me joy no longer surprise him.
A couple of weeks later, my college helper Luke and I spent a sweaty, fly-bitten afternoon pounding posts, snapping on insulators, and stringing more line.
By suppertime we had enclosed another couple of acres of weeds, including the second small plot of timothy.
I turned out the cattle.
New pasture! New horizons! Again the excitement and running in all directions!
Then muzzles down into the small stand of timothy for concentrated eating. Their contentment was palpable.
Luke’s grin was as wide as my own.
The timothy was gone in the morning, but all I can think of these days is how desperately I need to lime this land. Two trucks, once a year, for five years ought to do it. About $1500 a year. Surely it would be worth it.
Imagine how happy my animals would be and how rich I would feel, if all seventeen open acres grew this kind of forage!