Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wheat, Weeds and Wildlife

When I approach a project here on the homestead I usually first ask myself "how did they do it back in the day?" Then I ask "can I do something similar today?"

Growing wheat is a good example. They had ground that was used in rotation . It had a cleaning crop before it, something that was weeded with horse power or by hand. The farmer who rents our land says he thinks wheat is good for the land in rotation but he can't "pencil out" how he can afford to grow it on rented land. So wheat hasn't been grown here since we bought the place. Grandpa had a different farmer renting it when we first moved in and there was wheat in one field then.

Oats is something I haven't seen grown in the area since I was a kid. Oats can be a cleaning crop too from what I have heard. I guess it has a natural weed suppressant in it. I was thinking I could follow oats with wheat. I can't keep a field cleaned of weed without chemicals since I don't work on the homestead full time. Oats , Wheat, Beans, Corn sound like a good rotation I would like to try. I was thinking of hay in there but then I will have grass growing up that needs to be weeded out. I think I will try a permanent pasture with rotating hay fields.

This is all still speculation as I am trying to rotate 4 small fields right now and have not decided on a bean that works good for us. Black eyed peas grew very well last year but Tanya and the kids didn't care for the taste. This year we didn't plant any beans and the only field I have is my corn. It has done the best since I have been planting it. (pics to come)

I mentioned weeds and wildlife in the title. I have a couple overgrown areas along old fence lines and where the old barn used to be. You would think the cover would be good for small game. When my dad was a kid they used to hunt squirrels, rabbits and pheasants like crazy. Seeing the pictures from back then they had clean fences and the woods was clear of undergrowth for the most part since they used it as pasture.

I have more cover for the small game but no animals. I think the problem is the lack of food since no one grows wheat or oats anymore. I still have squirrels in the woods and raccoons coming out of my ears but the rabbit population is very low and I have seen one pheasant since we have lived here. The only gleaning from the field for the wildlife anymore is corn or soybeans, which isn't good enough for the small game animals. Just like it isn't enough for your farm animals.

Growing your own wheat and oats will not only make for healthier soil and livestock but will help the local wildlife as well. The standard corn, soybean, corn rotation just keeps the strain on the land and will eventually wear it out.


1 comment:

brosil said...

I'll take them black eyed peas off your hands. I've got plenty of jowl bacon for Hoppin' John.