I went to a lambing class this weekend. It was extremely interesting and rather than being a formal class, it just sort of flowed with what the class wanted to learn. Among the things that I learned was something that I already knew.
We have a farm. We are going to sell fruits and vegetables and we’re also producing sheep meat and wool that we will use somehow. But we aren’t growing fruit and vegetables, that is just a by-product that allows us to have an income.
Our sheep eat grasses from the pastureland around our property. But the grasses aren’t what we are growing either, they are just a means of making the wool and meat.
On our farm, we grow dirt. (or at least that is the idea, we are still learning how to do that). We grow dirt and then use it to house the plants that harvest solar energy for us to provide products we can sell. The most important thing on or farm is the dirt.
Unfortunately, our dirt isn’t great. We have a lot of heavy clay that needs amending. This year we are incorporating a lot of organic matter. That might sound fancy, but we are turning a long time pasture into a garden area. When you rototill pasture, you get a lot of organic matter in the soil. I hope that helps it. Although I often think that I’m just planting a whole lot of grass to fight with for the next decade.
When we plant our crops we’re also adding some steer manure (that come with some weed starts at no extra charge). It’s bagged stuff and I’m not proud of it, but it what we have this year. We are also adding some lime in places because we have some acidic soil.
I’m really excited for next year. I have at least 2-3 yards of horse manure already in my compost pile. I need to keep turning it, and I keep putting it off, hoping to find a better way than with a shovel while standing knee deep in what I’m turning. I’m excited to have a nearly limitless supply of nitrogen and organic matter to add to my soil.
I am also thinking of using the canary grass (before it goes to seed) to mulch the beds in our garden. I think it will be a good cover for the soil, and it should incorporate well into the soil to add organic matter. We have about an acre of canary grass at the back of our property that really isn’t fit to feed sheep, so I want a better use for it.
Now, I have a couple of books on soil development that I need to read. I’ve been putting it off because it is daunting, but understanding soil is the basis of successful farming and I need to understand it.