Homesteading, Organic Gardening, How to Farm, Preparedness, Self-Reliance
The Aspiring Farmer Blog
I don’t know why, but I had some perception in my head that farmers didn’t really do much yard work and that it was all about farming. Yards didn’t really exist. For some farmers that may be the case. In the future, I hope that’s the case for me. But right now some form of yard work takes up at least a few hours of my time each week.
The major culprit is mowing the lawn. The people that lived here before us loved their lawn and would spend 3 hours every two or three weeks on a huge riding lawn mower cutting the grass. I don’t know how many acres the “lawn” comprised, but it was at least 4 or 5 by my estimate. That seems to be the norm around here. HUGE lawns, all getting cut, all the time. Gotta get a “zero turn”. Typically these manicured lawns lie right next to a completely desolate pasture. I always wonder when I’m driving by if the cows are really pissed off that this guy is just cutting all the beautiful grass right next to their pasture and all they have is a bunch of dirt and buttercup to chew on.
So what the heck am I gonna do with this huge lawn? That’s the question I asked myself once we got settled and a couple feet of grass grew before I could even say the words “riding lawn mower”. Our neighbor kept saying, “You know I have a bush hog and a tractor you can borrow”. If he only knew that I’ve never driven a tractor I don’t think he’d be so bold.
But I can do it without the bush hog. I think. So far I have three answers for this beast of a “lawn”.
The first was to fence off half of it in the permanent pasture. The previous owners kept it separate in order to have a huge lawn. We wanted to use that land for goat and cow pasture. So half of it went away right off the bat. We couldn’t include the rest of the lawn in the perimeter fencing because of the way our land is laid out, but at least we eradicated half of it.
Another chunk of the lawn problem could be resolved by saving it to cut for hay. We could get in there with the tractor and make a few tight turns and get some bales off it. I think in total this spring it amounted to 7 or 8 bales. Nothing to write home about, but better than mowing it all down and composting it.
Those two approaches took care of about 80% of the problem, but there were still some nagging areas around the house that couldn’t be stockpiled for hay and would need to be kept low. Particularly around the highly trafficked areas we need relatively short grass in order to deter snakes and allow us to see snakes. Snakes in the South are just a reality of farming and our area is known to have quite a few of the venomous types. So we keep the grass short around the house. BUT I still loathe the idea of mowing the lawn when perfectly productive grass could be packing on the pounds of grassfed beef.
Which brings me to the next step. Grazing the cows in the front and back yards. I’ve yet to round up the cows for a day on the front lawn, but I’m itching to try it. Sweetbreads is none too happy about the prospect of slipping on a cow pie, but I’m hoping the chickens and guineas will scratch through them in short order..
I’m still trying to figure out how to get cows in and out of the pasture without winding up with a giant highland cow on the loose. How terrifying would that be for our neighbors? Imagine Janis walking up and peeking into your living room! I’d need a change of pants real quick.
So we’ll be giving that a shot once I can effectively move the cows with risking a cow escape. Until then the grass clippings are going to the pigs.
Any other good ideas for avoiding lawn maintenance? What do you do?
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