Pasture Improvement/Poor Man’s Pasture

When we bought our land, it was covered by a red pine plantation and hundreds of Scotch pines. Knapweed, St John’s wort, hoary alyssum, mullien and horse mint grew in the open areas. The word the soil conservation guy used to describe our soil was “bleak”. We sold the red pines and had a lot of the Scotch pines chipped for the co-generation plant which opened up a lot more land for pasture. We added goats and later sheep and they eliminated the weedy plants so grass could grow. Lime was spread (by hand) a few years ago. Our soil is very sandy and nutrients leach right through so grass grew sparsely. The soil structure needed to be improved to hold all the good things in place including moisture.

Mullien is left after goats and sheep have grazed off the other weeds

We feed our sheep on clean snow in the winter time and clean ground in spring and fall. We noticed that grass would spring up through the spoiled hay in the spring. The hay seeds were falling through to the ground below and taking root. The cover provided by the spoiled hay held moisture in place and improved the soil as it decomposed. Our course of action became to establish what we refer to as “poor man’s pasture”. I try to feed hay on a different spot each day. As the snow deepens, I don’t struggle to pull the sled so far out so the area closest to the hay barn has the thickest grass.

The same area after a season of feeding hay
2011 after two seasons of feeding hay in this spot

The pasture now includes native grass and whatever types of grass the hay contained. A faster way to accomplish this would be to have some large bales delivered and rolled out on the ground.

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Pasture Improvement/Poor Man’s Pasture — 2 Comments

  1. Brilliant! I had thought of this for cover crops since I like weed controlling with mulch, but why not the pasture?? We’ve had such a hard time getting our pasture seeded this spring that I’m sure we’ll employ this method- great post!

  2. What a great idea! We have a bad spot where our original tiny pond was dug up and re-covered over with dirt in an attempt to make a bigger, deeper pond. The guy left so many rocks uncovered, and hummocks of dirt, that I can’t cut there and now weeds have begun to grown. We are going to try to get it disc-harrowed, and hay in big bales is fairly inexpensive around here… we’ll treat that area as our garden (we layer in the beds) and roll out a couple of big bales and let the hay help do our work!
    Thanks for the great idea!