Seeding done for this season!

Post date: Dec 02, 2015 4:58:4 PM

Our custom at Blue Oak Canyon Ranch, early in each rainy season, is to plant about 10 acres in annual grasses (usually Atlas barley or a forage mix) to supplement the grazing and forage on the rest of our small ranch. ("Small" compared to the multi-thousand acre ranches in cattle and barley, that surround us. Big enough for us, for sure.) Each of these three pastures are near the sheep shelters, and we keep the sheep in these during lambing time (to keep the mothers and lambs where we can keep an eye on them) and times when forage is scarce. There are three pastures, fenced off from each other (but connected by gates), we call them the west pasture, middle pasture, and east pasture. This year, we planted Atlas barley, as the seeds were available at our local supplier and it makes nice grazing/forage for the sheep and llamas. Jim on the tractor discs the pasture land, mixing in what stubble is left from last year, also mixing in the sheep and llama manure. Then, with a broadcaster or spreader mounted on the back of the tractor and connected to the PTO (power take off) of the tractor, Jim spreads (broadcasts) the seed with me directing his route through the pastures. Then we fertilize with a nitrogen fertilizer (not too much) to supplement the organic matter already in the soil. The west pasture soil is mostly loamy sand/sandy loam, but has a patch of sand along its south edge. This year, we transported a good amount of llama manure to the sandy area to help with fertility and particularly with water holding capacity of the sandy soil. That was before disc-ing, then the disc-ing helps mix the organic matter in with the mineral soil. So after that, Jim disced and we seeded and fertilized, then Jim (working first the west pasture, then the middle pasture, then the east pasture) dragged a steel bar behind the tractor to bury the seed.

We finished the west pasture (biggest and most challenging, because it is not a rectangle in shape, more like a trapezoid) and middle pasture (smallest and easiest because nearly square) on Tuesday November 24. The last couple steps in the middle pasture were conducted in a light rain - no complaints here but it did make it slippery! - but we finished just in time. We got 0.1 inch from that small storm, then had to wait a couple days to work on the east pasture (second largest, and a little challenging because it has a few trees to go around). We finished that one on Friday November 27.

Now we need some rain to get our barley seeds to sprout, and more rain to keep them going! Barley is a cool-season grass, so the cold nights and cool days bothers it not at all.