Friday, April 29, 2016

One more day!!


So Moon comes home tomorrow! Last night I fed at the barn for the last time before winter, and packed up the last of Moon's gear. Just his halter, a brush and shipping boots were waiting at the barn still. It was bitter sweet unhanging his sign after the four years it's hung there.

I'm heading off with the weirdest mix of excitement, nerves and eager anticipation.

So in love with this boy, even after 6 years <3 
I spent four years in university studying animal production. I'm an Aggie. I studied agriculture in school, and LOVED everything from feed formulation to rotational grazing to throwing metal squares into a field and counting blades of grass. This is my dream world. I don't work in it 9-5, M-F, but the idea that my evenings can be a passionate pursuit of agriculture?! I'm beyond excited. It's more then just bringing Moon home. It's an opportunity to farm.

I'm getting to farm.

I know some people think, it's just horse keeping. Fence off some grass, let a horse eat. Supplement some hay if they're looking skinny. Keep them watered.

But I'm talking about Manure Management. Stocking Densities. High Intensity Rotational Grazing Systems. Natural Parasite Control Methods. Pasture Improvement.

I know. Some folks would roll their eyes and yawn, but for me, this is my passion. I'm seriously EXCITED about managing manure.

Now, I don't know if we're going to do best on a harrow system where we spread the manure out, or maybe we should cover and compost, and then spread at the year end?

I know that one horse produces enough manure in a year to fertilize 1 acre of land. Which to me, means if I accumulate and cover it, I should be able to compost this summer's worth, and then in the fall when Moon goes back to H's, spread that manure over 1 paddock. And after 4 years, I should be able to have fertilized every paddock once. And then start again. Which is a perfectly manageable level of fertilization. I'd also like to introduce some new seed stock next year with frost seeding. That's when you seed the grass in the spring, where the spring frosts have opened little cracks in the soil for the seed to fall into and germinate. The downfall is that it means keeping the horses off one paddock until the grass becomes established there, but I'm thinking if I divide one pasture in half and make it the last pasture grazed in the rotation, I could have everything seeded in 6 years. Without much loss of production. The first year would be rough, but after that, the improved yield of the seeded areas would compensate for the loss of area.

I also hope to do a soil sample back there to determine the nutrient levels. I've had the soil tested for compensation, but not to actually determine the health of the soil.

I'm probably going to ask for a manure spreader and harrow for christmas ;)

I'm learning also that a good manure pile has lots of space for air, which means I need to make sure to add some leaves and lawn clippings and weeds and such to help the manure aerate. Which is great because we always have tons of grass clippings and leaves to deal with!

We also will have the bedding from the chicken coop, which is another great thing to compost! Plus whatever vegetable bits come off our garden this year :)

My math says that we'll have 5 rotations per paddock, if Moon stays until the end of October. Granted, I doubt there'll be much growth after September, so it's possible it might just be a hay bale supplement in that last month.

I'm hoping that every time I move Moon into the next paddock, I'll run the lawn mower over the area to cut down all the weeds. The biggest issue is going to be the rocks in the field, but I guess I'll slowly pull them out, plus hopefully he's not munching it so short that I need the deck on the mower crazy low. At least we have the riding mower for out there.

I'm also really hoping to pick poo every other day or so back there, so it never accumulates. That's gonna be a wait and see one, but if I can keep to doing it, it'll be a HUGE advantage.

What more can I say?? I'm excited! I'm prepped...kinda. I'll finish prepping tonight. I have this weird anxiousness to me, that I really hope Moon can't read tomorrow morning!

I still get a little worried when I think back to the move I made to H's, and Moon went down on the fence post. I just keep thinking about what if he breaks a leg or impales himself on a tree the first day at my place?! I'd be horrified.

Really, it's like anyone making a change in the world of something they love. All I can do is hope I've covered all the bases, and know that if something happens, it's just a freak accident. Freak accidents happen.

So tonight's busy schedule includes picking up all the debris (bits of wire I cut off the fencing, bits of fence posts and such). Then I need to jumper the last couple of new fence lines. Test the fence to make sure it's energized properly. Run the last of the wire for the sacrifice paddock (including the gate). Put out his water trough and fill it with water. I might find two tires and put his food and a second water bucket in the first paddock just for while he's waiting for us to finish with his shelter area.

Move the wheelbarrow out to the back field and look for some sort of manure rake. And make sure I have an area to be my muck pile :)

And I need to find my flagging tape and put that up all around the fencing :)

I wouldn't mind trying to find my plastic tack box and putting Moon's rain sheet and grooming gear in it. A couple of fly masks too as he should start wearing them. His tooth cleaner that he needs.

Hours. Just hours away from a lifelong dream. It's crazy. I keep checking if I'm ready. Am I ready? How will Moon be??

By this time next Friday, we'll have a horse and chickens on our farm. We'll be a farm. Our garden goes in in a couple of weeks! Maybe Sunday I'll hang my clothes line and put laundry out for the first time. Ride Moon around the paddock :)

I was thinking about not putting the east gate in, but finally opted to do it, and I'm pretty happy that I can kinda "sneak" next door to ride in the open cattle field.

Man I wish I could jump. Seriously, I really really wanna jump. I know that's not happening (hello 24th week of pregnancy!), but a girl can daydream. Even just getting to hack down the the path to the house or up the road is going to be amazing.

Eeeee!! Wish us luck that this weekend goes amazingly well!! You'll be hearing lots more about Moonpie in the coming weeks, that's for sure!! A whole new adventure for us!

Last time feeding at H's until winter...

1 comment:

  1. Exciting!! Good luck hope all goes well.