"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Saturday, 24 January 2015

It's a drag

So - RMan managed to remove most of the weeds by plowing - the plan regarding sheep eating the weeds (and their seeds) never materialized.  No, not through a change of plan.  After asking the shepherd for the sixth time we gave up...!

We didn't want to wait any longer - as the oat seed has to be scattered by latest March, field preparation time was a-wasting.

It turns out it didn't happen because the neighbours shepherd, who moves the sheep here and there to graze, felt it was too far to bring the sheep down to our plot!?!
The new fence behind the fruit trees
And RMan and John went to all the effort of fencing off the fodder fields.  It is a stunning fence in the same style as the paddocks we made for the alpacas.  Continuity is key :)
View of the new fence from the fields / driveway
So - the weeds have been given some attention and we've certainly fed the soil with the 2 tons of lime which has been generously sprinkled everywhere.

How else could we feed the soil?

The neighbour at the end of our road had straw bales delivered last year and they have just been sitting there rotting.  We asked him if he had a plan for those bales and his reply was in the negative.  When we asked if we could relieve him of them, he was more than happy to get rid of a very large rotting pile which had become an enormous mouse (and therefore snake) straw bale nest.
Straw bales being deposited onto the fields
In the past when we have purchased the round bales for fodder, and they have been loaded onto RMan's trailer by the seller.  We didn't have that luxury this time.

And the big round straw bales are heavy.

And falling apart after standing out in the open for so long.

It would have be impossible to get the complete ones onto our trailer, and the rotting ones were just falling apart when they were moved.

We had to make another plan.

After giving it some thought I came up with the suggestion of "sliding" them (with the aid of a rope and the tractor) onto an old piece of steel balustrade. Sometimes odd scraps of fencing / metal / wood come in handy and it is worth keeping them - even if you cannot imagine what use you can put them to at the time.  These scraps material of don't have to be an eyesore if they are kept in a neat pile.
The old piece of steel balustrade at work
moving part of a straw bale
RMan, his tractor, some steel chain, John and a piece of old balustrading got to work.
A strong chain is the key to a successful sled
Even the old broken bales were eased onto the makeshift sled with relative ease and schlepped up to road to our smallholding.
Where possible we unrolled the straw bale onto
the field prior to spreading the straw
The end result?

The top alpaca fodder field is now covered with a straw mulch  :)

That should help in preventing the surface residue lime from blowing away, the weeds from reappearing too quickly, and should help in retaining any much needed water which may fall from the heavens.

All we need now is some rain...


Tom Stedham said...

Hard work pays off! I'm very impressed with what you are doing.

Dani said...

Tom - Thanks - this all takes time, but the bigger picture spurs us on :)

Harry Flashman said...

You two remind me of Kymber and J up in Canada. They are always finding things they can use, and re-purposing abandoned or unused materials, putting them to good use. I think that kind of innovation is really a positive trait. Since I started reading your blog you have done a great deal to improve your place. I am often surprised when I remember you moved there from the city, you seem to have adapted to it perfectly.

Quinn said...

Well that was a chore alright! Always helps when you get free materials, though. Great incentive to get out there and get doing.

Mum said...

Great work and re-cycling to boot.

Dani said...

Harry - Comparing us to K & J is a compliment - thanks :)

We may live off grid, and out in the sticks, but we still want to live in a fully functioning home and as sustainably as possible. We came to this course of life late, so we've got lots of time to make up for lol

Dani said...

Quinn - Your turn is coming, and then I'll be getting itchy feet (fingers) at what you post about lol

Dani said...

Mum - Thank you :)

Linda said...

Clever method! And congratulation on free mulch!!

Dani said...

Linda - Free mulch is like gold lol