Grass At Last

Yesterday evening after work, before cooking dinner, I took down snow fences, pulled T-posts, and fixed perimeter lines for 90 minutes — and finally got the cattle out on pasture. It is always heartwarming to see their gamboling and excitement.

Grass at last. Not great grass, but grass.

Thirteen years ago, a state biologist came to the property. He said my soil was so thin and sour that I would never be able to grow grass. He underestimated the transformative power of manure.

Also a dreamer’s maniacal effort. Every year, in addition to spreading manure, I have pulled rocks and stumps, picked up broken logs and branches, burned brush, pounded fence posts, strung electric line, cut back saplings and choking weeds, and mowed for countless hours. (I’ve also saved up for truckloads of lime, only to need the money for school tuition and other real-life demands. Someday liming will happen.)

Still, the land is slowly improving. Last summer I was frustrated not to have time to dig out rocks in the south pasture that forced me to dodge and feint while mowing. Every two weeks I would add them to my list and two weeks later they would still be there. When school started again I looked at the rocks and told them mentally, “I’ll get you next year.”

I’ve realized this is the secret of progress when one doesn’t have enough time or money. Even the tiniest gains eventually accumulate.


6 Responses to Grass At Last

  1. Ned says:

    I am where you were years ago. Cutting trees, burning, and planting grass a little at a time. I was able to fence the property in field fence and run goats on it for a couple years. They stripped everything from about head high down to the dirt. I sold off most of my goats and just keep a few to keep the brush from coming back while I chip away at creating pasture.

    I don’t have a manure spreader. Yet. I do have free range chickens and miniature hogs. I feed the cows a little whole kernel corn and the chickens and pigs do an excellent job of scattering the manure. Keeps it from killing the grass. I do a lot of composting but for now that all goes into the garden.

    Love your cows. The first one looks a lot like our Olive. She is a mid-mini Jersey.

    • adkmilkmaid says:

      Good luck with finding a manure spreader! I found a little ground-drive “estate” spreader years ago and though it is too small, meant for horse droppings and shavings, and I’ve had to replace flattened blades over the years, it has proven the most reliable of my tools.

  2. Jack Merritt says:

    Hi Guys
    40 years ago I was in same boat as you are now, I worked hard scrimped and saved, was nearly bankrupt a time or two. But now that Im old I have stuff paid for my family dosen’t want it, so I guess if I can enjoy it all was worth while. I wish I had some one to leave it to. I hate to think all the trees I planted and hoed by hand will one day be bulldozed and some fool growing potatoes on my home. Its a bit sad. But for the rest of you I hope for better.
    Good Luck

    • adkmilkmaid says:

      Hi Jack, I’m sorry to hear that. About eight years ago I was feeling stuck and sad and I said to my big sister, “What am I doing it all for, then?” and she replied, “You’re doing it for yourself.” This was a hard idea for me. Allen helped me be more philosophical. I was so excited when the back field was cleared (this was before we had stumped it or I had seeded it or anything). I exclaimed, “Some day it’s going to be beautiful pasture!” and he looked at me and said, “And then your kids will sell it and it will be condos.” I have gradually become accustomed to the thought that I have no control. But it is definitely a sad reflection. I’m very sorry you’re feeling sad now.

    • Ned says:

      I do this for myself in the hopes that maybe one of my sons or grandsons might take an interest. As of now that doesn’t look promising. My great grandfather bought this property. My grandfather was born and died on it. Over the years about half has been sold off because those that inherited it had no interest in it other than the money. I am constantly looking for a way to acquire all the remaining parcels and consolidate what is left of his farm. If the economy tanks everyone has someplace to go and we will be able to eat. Thats the part kids don’t get. Many people like the idea of farm but few want to put in the effort even if it provides a certain amount of security. Everyone has been lulled into the idea that nothing bad can really happen and if it does the system will take care of them. I say good luck with that.

      They’ll sweep my ashes out of this place. After that it’s on someone else’s shoulders to worry about the family. Until then I’ll get up every morning and feed the animals, milk the cow, go to work, come home, check on all the animals, work in the garden and then do it all again the next day.

      I have considered putting it in my will that the property goes to someone who wants to live on it or if sold must be sold intact as a farm not to be subdivided for homes, trailer park, etc,…

      • adkmilkmaid says:

        Ned, I hope they sweep your ashes out! That’s my dream, too, but I’ve seen a lot of lives up-ended by situations out of their control. I wish us all luck! 🙂

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