Thursday, 18 April 2013

Psstttt! Wanna hear some dirt?

Now that I got your attention I can give you the juicy details: I am going to divulge all the exclusive behind-the-scenes activity on how a field of grass comes to be.
 
It may be shocking, it will be informing, and it won't happen without showing A LOT of dirt (for the faint of dust you may want to look away).
 
Now, why is this important to know? In order to get a hay bale, you need hay to bale and to get hay (which is simply cut, dried grass) you need grass, and that grass needs to be seeded, in the first place, to grow. And without any of the above our cows would be missing a huge part of their diet which would make them sour--and consequently our milk (well, that may be a stretch, but they wouldn't be happy about it).
 
Here is a photo journal documenting our week long fieldwork in order to reseed:

To get the dirt you see above we first needed plow, which means turning the old grass under and bringing the soil to the surface. Plowing leaves furrows (small ditches) in our field so we need to use the harrow in order to smooth it out. Looks pretty good to me!

 Here is one of our two grass seeders. Those boxes on top store the seed which we will be planting. Our dual seeders allowed for us to use two types of grass seed varieties in order to get more...variety! 
I have a handful of perennial rye grass (perennial means "long lasting") because as much as we may enjoy playing in the dirt its still a lot of work too--so grass that lasts a long time pays off. 
 
 However, this handful of oats, which we call a "nurse crop" grows twice as fast as the rye but are gone by third cut. Definitely not perennial. So what's the point? We use the oats to baby (or should I say nurse) the rye grass. They grow so quick they rival (and hopefully snuff out) any fast shooting weeds trying to take over the field which means the rye grass can simply focus on growing up tall and healthy.  
 
 This is how our grass seeder works: We fill the boxes (that you saw in the second photo) and as we drive forward with the tractor little gears turn at the base of the box drawing the seed out. It falls into a pipe which ends right behind those circular metal disks on the ground. The disks dig a small furrow in soil which gives the seed a place to go--and hopefully grow!

 A nearly finished seed bed--thankfully this wasn't a snoring seed variety...

 The final step: we culti-pack our seed once its been planted because, unlike corn, having definite rows is not necessary for harvesting. The culti-packer (which is hooked up to the tractor) helps with seed-to-soil contact which encourages the grass to sprout and gosh knows with spring weather the faster it can sprout the better chance of a successful crop--and future hay bales!

If you have any questions or comments about this post I encourage you to write below and I will answer to the best of my ability. Have a good Thursday!