Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Pollard Hay-Corn Fodder-Replacing Money With Work

I don't blame the kids for not understanding how the new land is going to fit into our over all program. Being young they instinctively assess all options with one question in mind--"Will this cause me to have to do less work?"

I assess each option with several questions in mind--"Will this produce healthier, happier animals?"--"Will this reduce overall cost to the operation?" and "Will this provide an educational experience for program participants and visitors?"

They all look confused when I explain that no livestock will be given access to the stream/swamp that separates the new land from our horse lots. In fact, the buffer around the stream will remain. That will reduce pasture runoff and keep water quality high. Electric wire means a bit more work in terms of keeping it hot--but it is simple work that primarily involves walking the fence, removing shortages and fixing breaks in the wire.

A few posts ago I discussed coppicing the new land. Doing so creates less work for us, saves money, provides healthy, diverse forage to the animals, and provides an opportunity for education. Pollarding and foddering will create much more work but they meet all of my criteria perfectly.

There is about an acre or more in an open pasture behind the Little house. In late winter we will put hot wire around the base of it and I will sow several hundred pounds of feed corn on the surface. I will put a few hogs in there. I will bury with the post hole digger some corn below the surface spaced out across the pasture.

I expect the hogs and Elise's chickens to prepare the soil nicely for the first planting of corn. We will be able to irrigate that planting now that we have our new super water system. Those stalks will either be hand severed and fed to the horses or we will put hogs back in when the stalks reach about waist high. The second planting of corn will occur after that. I hope that we will have enough of a variety of heirloom corn that Jackie found that produced stalks between ten and twelve feet high to make that second, broad cast planting. This crop will be harvested with a machete while still green. The green stalks make some of the best horse feed that I have encountered. The still green ears will be fed t the goats and hogs. We will then put a few hogs in and let them break the ground up by lifting the corn roots out of the ground.

That should be late August or early September.

Then the winter forage goes in. We will sow oats and rye. By late winter/early spring it will provide super forage for any of our livestock.

The new land has a few acres that are nearly entirely ash, with a few gum saplings coming along. In mid summer these saplings will be severed at about five feet high. The tops that are removed are referred to as pollard hay. Pollard hay is the leaves, bark, and brows created from these tops. Pollard hay can be fed green to horses, cows, and goats or it can be dried and used as winter feed.

Lot of work listed above--lot of cost savings listed above--but most of all a lot of education and memories to be made for program participants--all with the central goal of preserving and promoting nearly extinct strains of Colonial Spanish horses.

1 comment:

Dianne W said...

I learn so much from these posts. I had never heard of coppice or pollard hay.

Cane sorghum (as opposed to grain sorghum) makes good forage and grows better than modern corn in poorer soils. I don't know how it compares to the heirloom varieties you are using and it lacks green ears.