Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Down On The Farm

Interesting and hard morning. We had three flash floods this year. This has created an erosion problem on our wheat ground. If you want to make a farmer totally crazy and really really grumpy, just let him see his cropland blowing and him not be able to stop it.

This flooding created silt which is very light powdery soil. It blows easily. Blowing ground is contagious. Ground that would not normally blow will begin to blow if lighter wind driven soils scour it enough. So the cure is to never let the light soil blow.

My husband and I spent the morning pitchforking straw over some of this light soil. Joe is still out there. I ran out of steam and began to overheat. We did some last night when it cooled off and I think he is going to put out one more bale of straw. Then he will lightly disc it in so the straw won't blow away and will stop wind erosion. I think he plans to do about 10 acres all together. This straw will also improve the quaility of the soil by decomposing and adding compost.

There are a lot of things farmers and their families do that are extreme conservation. We don't do them to be "green" or politically correct. We do these thing because it is what farmers have been doing for centuries and it makes sense. Taking care of the land. If you abuse your land you will soon be out of business. Land properly cared for is productive. AND farmers and ranchers are doing this to make a living. It has to be profitable, just like any other business.

Some of the things we do that are darn hard work, but help to protect our land are:
1. Shelly goes out with a shovel and digs up thistles and burns them. Why burn? To get rid of the seeds. Why no chemical? I hate chemicals and everywhere you kill a weed with chemical you are also killing good grass, creating a bare spot for possible erosion.
2. Rocks collected from the fields are put in places that are beginning to show flood damage. We will also place them where the cattle are walking too frequently and creating gullies. Anyplace we want to prevent a new gully from forming we put these rocks.
3. Put in terraces and berms to prevent water erosion and to direct any run off water to the area where it will do the most good.
4. Kill porcupines - a few are good, many kill our pine trees. We do population control. We also control rabbits, coyotes, mountain lions, and wolves. We would also love to be able to thin out the elk, white tail and mule deer and antelope as their numbers are multiplying rapidly. When these animals get too think they become ill and extremely destructive of our crops, pastures and fences. Right now there is a big problem with chronic wasting disease in our elk and deer. Game and Parks solution is to plant mountain lions. How stupid can you get???? Issue more hunting licenses.
5. Rotational grazing of cattle and placing stock tanks so the cattle utilize the pasture more evenly. The rotation requires putting in more fences and the tanks require trenching and laying water lines. Now this all costs money and I have to tell you that there are not many "rich" farmers. Most farmers have a retirement plan, it's called sell your farm.

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