Expanding the pasture

I spent some time this morning moving the field fence closer toward the river giving an expanded grazing area. I worked by myself. The weather was warm. I enjoy working by myself – Working up a sweat. Its a kind of meditation for me. Working step by step – problem solving – figuring it out as I go on.

Filled the 1 kl rainwater tank up yesterday. With water from my neighbour Richard. Rain water would stretch a lot further, if I had more storage and if I could catch more of the water coming off the roof. I spent yesterday morning adding an additional 6 m of guttering. very temporary, but its the best I can do right now. The other thing I did yesterday was to begin to build a path along the stream. The idea is to have permanent fence on both sides of the stream, so as to keep cattle out. Working with the chainsaw in the forest is heavy work. The chainsaw is new to me, I feel like I am learning to do new stuff. Expanding the range of what I can do, extending what is possible.

The cattle have kept inside of camp “B” this week. The strand of electric fence around the camp seems to be enough to stop them wandering off into the forest. But the good grazing is all gone. They like the grass, not so much the bramble and he other shrubs and trees. (the trees they like are the Port Jackson and Keurboom)

Ran some stocking density calculations based on Allan Savory’s method (and as discussed in plain English by Joel Salatin) So if I were to observe that my 2500 sqm camp “A” has a weeks grazing for 4,5 cattle (three full grown and three calves)  after resting for 28 days, then I would be able to extrapolate that the whole 10 ha would be able to carry 29 head of cattle. The following inputs apply:

  • 80% of the land can be developed as pasture.
  • pasture required 28 days rest before it can be regrazed

This would assume that the whole farm had pasture the same quality as camp “A”. I am far from achieving that objective.

If these I can achieve these rates I would be at about three times the stacking density touted as “local knowledge” of the area. I remain therefore sceptical of my own calculations.

I have set up the formula in a spreadsheet, so as I am able to make observations that can perhaps impact on the calculation, I can add them and see what I get out. For example I may see that I need to rest the pasture more or less than the 28 days I am estimating. The amount of rest required will be impacted by rain and season. I may see that  4.5 cattle can be grazed for longer than 7 days on any given 2500 sq sample. This will require some record keeping.

Transfer is still not through. Just waiting now. It was “lodged” in Cape Town last Friday, 20 March 2014. So I am waiting. I don’t like waiting. Lawyers say – 8-10 working days. So by my calculation that means Tuesday or Thursday this week!!!

Author: Tim Hewitt-Coleman

The World can be a better place.... But how? Taking the debate beyond the political, beyond the theoretical into the real economy, into the physical and spatial dimension where cities, landscapes and livelihoods take form.

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