Homesteading, Organic Gardening, How to Farm, Preparedness, Self-Reliance
The Happy Homesteader Blog
It lies quietly still, never moving, barely breathing for months on end. You stare at it with an aching heart, pleading with it to wake up. "Grow, please grow," you whisper in your mind. It seems it will never happen and the thought lies heavy on your shoulders. Then, seemingly overnight, you look out one morning and things have changed! Without you noticing, a blanket has covered the Earth. A uniform color has filled in right before your eyes. It's awake! Now you walk out every day just to observe it's health and are overjoyed at it's vigor. It seems to stretch towards the sky when you sit peacefully and watch it. The dreads of it's dormancy are quickly forgotten and you feel as if life will go on forever.
I'm talking about grass.
Even in our mild southern climate the winters seem to last forever. When the grass stops growing it feels as if the farm stops. At first it's a welcomed break, but soon I begin to hate the sight of the cows eating hay. They should be on grass! When they are grazing with the sun on their backs they seem to be in complete bliss. I can tell how much they want grass because as soon as one little blade peaks it's head out of the ground, they leave the hay to go nip it off. Sending the cows out to pasture in the spring is the most wonderful feeling - for us and the cows! When the gate opens they get a bounce in their step. Some even run and kick up their heels out of sheer joy! Can you imagine what happiness in life could cause you to do the same?
These days the farm is pure paradise. There is so much food around for the animals that sometimes they can't even eat it all and you see them lounging in the sun taking a nap with big fat bellies like after Thanksgiving dinner. Before I know it, the grass is up to my knees and I don't have a care in the world. When there is food, there are no worries around here.
You have to relish in this moment though because it doesn't last long. Spring is a fleeting thing that has such a lasting impression it's memory will carry you through the harder seasons. Soon, the grass becomes a challenge. The peace of mind that Mother Nature gave you becomes overwhelming. The grass starts to creep. It grows into your flower beds. It takes over your garden. It narrows the driveway as it closes in on the sides. You hear the dreadful snapping of the electric fence as the tall grass shorts it out. And it builds up so tall around any structures you have that it feels messy and dangerous - the perfect environment for snakes and rats!
When we lived on a 1/4 acre lot in the burbs we either hired a landscaper to maintain the yard or we did it ourselves on the weekends. All together it might have taken an hour and half to mow and weed once a week. No big deal. When you own a large piece of property, these chores are never ending in the spring. The grass and weeds grow faster than you can keep up with. Mowing twice a week just barely keeps the yard in check, never mind the garden, berry patch, orchard, around the barns and shops, fence lines, and the driveway! You feel suffocated as the grass takes over, but you try to remain thankful because you know that soon the summer heat and drought will roll this way and you'll be longing for that lush spring grass to feed your animals.
For those of you that are in the farm planning stages, be sure to think about the grass. One lesson that I have learned is that the beautiful sprawling farm with scattered buildings is very hard to maintain. You will soon begin to resent lugging the mower around for miles and wish you had concentrated things more. Also, consider your landscaping and change your programmed thoughts about flower beds and a back yard. Instead of maintaining multiple areas, try an edible landscape. If you want a grassy patch to play in, then you're going to have to mow your yard anyway, so why not also make this your orchard by planting your fruit trees here and grape vines on your fence. And instead of just beautiful flowers for the birds and bees, fill your beds with berries and veggies so your garden is close by. Another thing to think about is the type of fencing you'll use. We opted not to use barbed wire because animals and people can get quite hurt by it, but grass can interfere with electric fencing. The last thing is the driveway...oh the driveway! A country driveway is difficult to maintain if it is not installed properly. It is worth the time and money to hire someone who is very knowledgeable about installing a driveway that won't wash away in a rain storm or end up with pot holes from pooled water. There's not much you can do to stop the grass, but it will be easier to scrape if the driveway remains smooth and stable. Lastly, start saving your pennies now for a heavy duty mower as it's essential on any farm!
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