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Author Topic: How to look after 2 acres properly  (Read 11503 times)

juliedennis74

  • Joined Jul 2012
How to look after 2 acres properly
« on: July 12, 2012, 01:26:13 pm »
Hello  :wave:

I have just joined this website as my husband and I recently had a midlife crisis and decided to buy a small holding! We have been on the farm for 4 months now and are absolutely loving it. I finally feel like I have come home. The whole farm is just under 3 acres and broken up into various bits of garden and a paddock of almost 2 acres.

The garden part is fine and the veg patch that we hurriedly set up is doing fine, although a bit of sunshine wouldn't go amiss! We have also bought 3 pygmy goat wethers  :goat: for one area and so far they are great and we don't have any problems. Have only had them a week though! We are planning to add chickens too for eggs but will be back on another forum thread for that one!  :chook:

I also decided to get 3 alpacas for the paddock as it looked really sad and empty with nothing in it! They are totally lovely but as the stocking rate for the field size is so low (I think I could put about 10 in there in theory) they are never going to keep control of the grass.

This is where my problems begin. I am not quite sure how best to manage the field. I have been given so many conflicting thoughts including getting sheep to keep the grass down (maybe in the future but not sure yet!) to making the field smaller for them which seems a bit mean and using the rest to make hay which seems a bit stressful at the moment.

I am also not sure whether to get a compact tractor or ATV to mow/top the paddock and generally be a use for other things. I managed to kill the ride on lawnmower trying o do it with that!

I would just be grateful for any advice or thoughts that any of you might have. Having read other comments on other threads there seems to be a wealth of real experience on this website.

Thanks
Julie  :fc:


Greenerlife

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Leafy Surrey
Re: How to look after 2 acres properly
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2012, 01:43:37 pm »
Welcome Julie!  As you have said, there are a lot of experienced hands here, but sadly, I am not one of them!  :D   i have about the same size patch as you.  Only had it about 3 or 4 years, and am still busking it.  There just isn't enough time to do everything right first time around!  Don't let it stress you out - this is why you (probably) went down this route in the first place!  Prioritise what your long term aims are and tick them off as you proceed.  Once you have livestock you are in the deep end!

lachlanandmarcus

  • Joined Aug 2010
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: How to look after 2 acres properly
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2012, 02:41:52 pm »
Sheep are a lot easier to care for than alpacas - well certainly no harder. And they will keep the grass down better. I would if you want alpacas get a couple of wethers as guardians for a little sheep flock (say 4 or 5). You could make hay for them in part of the land and then swap them over onto the haypart aftermath a couple of weeks after haymaking. You could even make the hay by hand if it is say half an acre or so if you couldnt find anyone to do it, and the sheep could be hand sheared too.

mikethesmallholder

  • Joined Mar 2012
Re: How to look after 2 acres properly
« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2012, 03:23:55 pm »
you could ask a local farmer to flail mow or top the area you need to keep it tidy and leave a bit to for your livestock to eat. your looking at around 20 - 25 an hour

Sylvia

  • Joined Aug 2009
Re: How to look after 2 acres properly
« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2012, 07:42:42 am »
Or get a petrol strimmer and do it yourself, a bit at a time. Or use a scythe, but do have a couple of lessons first so you don't scythe your feet off! Get someone to balance it to suit your height and you'll find it easy. :)

Bionic

  • Joined Dec 2010
  • Talley, Carmarthenshire
Re: How to look after 2 acres properly
« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2012, 08:02:30 am »
We have a similar size plot but can't get someone in to top ours because it is stoney and the small plot doesn't make it worth their while anyway. OH has been using a petrol strimmer on it.  It takes a while and even longer because each time he goes out there it seems to rain but on the whole its doing a fairly decent job. 
We have 3 ewes who don't seem to mind whether they are on long or short grass but 3 isn't really enough to keep the grass to a decent length. We have put electric fencing in so that we can strip graze although haven't quite worked out the ideal way yet. 
I want to put the sheep to the ram this autumn so we should have some lambs next year  :fc:
The intention would be raise any whethers for meat and any ewes to increase the flock size a bit so that there isn't much strimming to do.
I hasten to add that we are very new to all of this, only moved in earlier this year, so I don't know if we are doing the right thing.
Sally
Life is like a bowl of cherries, mostly yummy but some dodgy bits

lachlanandmarcus

  • Joined Aug 2010
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: How to look after 2 acres properly
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2012, 10:50:02 am »
If you do ever decide to cut it yourself, look for a flail mower if the ground is a bit bumpy or stoney, the flail is big metal teeth and it wont be killed by a few stones unlike a topper. Or even better find a contractor with a flail mower :-)

Bionic

  • Joined Dec 2010
  • Talley, Carmarthenshire
Re: How to look after 2 acres properly
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2012, 11:00:05 am »
thanks for the tip lachlanandmarcus
Sally
Life is like a bowl of cherries, mostly yummy but some dodgy bits

juliedennis74

  • Joined Jul 2012
Re: How to look after 2 acres properly
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2012, 07:58:59 pm »
Thanks everyone for your comments. Think a flail mower might be the way to go and perhaps try and chain harrow once or twice a year.

I already have the alpacas, it wasn't very clear in my post, sorry! Whether they get friends in the future I don't yet know!

It's nice just to feel that there is support there from people in similar situations. Greenerlife you are quite right, the answer is definitely not to stress! The animals will survive as we learn I am sure and even if I manage to kill all the grass there is always hay until it improves!!  :fc:

lachlanandmarcus

  • Joined Aug 2010
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: How to look after 2 acres properly
« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2012, 09:57:31 pm »
when looking for a flail mower,  bear in mind they are a lot (lot) heavier than a topper, so will need a tractor normally of at least 50hp to cope with it (thats if its an 8-10 foot flail mower), anything less and you might struggle. Our John Deere 1976 2030 (75hp) copes fine with a 10 foot but it is a real hunk of a thing, wouldnt want much less power. You might be able to get a 'mini'  version for a smaller tractor tho which would be fine if slower. just thought I should mention it as you were wondering about tractors too.

Drummournie

  • Joined Jul 2012
  • Cawdor - Nairnshire
Re: How to look after 2 acres properly
« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2012, 10:12:58 pm »
Very much the same worries we are having go through our mind just now too Ju;lie (although without the animals yet!!)

Just prior to getting into this I was very convinced i"need" a tractor. The current smallholder has a ford Dexta and a topper, that would suit me fine but I don't think he's going to sell it. In the interim I will just have to go with the sheep / pay someone to do it as a reasonably powerful tractor + topper is going to be out of the budget to start with!!

luckylady

  • Joined Aug 2009
  • Yorkshire
Re: How to look after 2 acres properly
« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2012, 10:37:51 pm »
We bought a pretty old second hand ATV and attachments (topper, chain harrow, roller and trailer) to manage our grassland for the horses and haven't looked back since.  It doesn't churn up the ground as much as a tractor would especially in the current wet conditions.  It is brilliant in the snow for taking hay out to the animals and just getting things from A to B around the yard.  We've used it around the farm for all sorts of jobs even pulling out tree stumps - its such a versatile piece of equipment and fun too. 
Good luck with all your choices - an exciting time for you.  :hshoe:
Doing that swan thing - cool and calm on the surface but paddling like crazy beneath.

Small Farmer

  • Joined Jan 2012
  • Bedfordshire
Re: How to look after 2 acres properly
« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2012, 11:45:29 pm »
You'll find that machinery is a compromise, always.  There's a lot of threads, and a lot of opinions!


You probably don't need a flail mower unless it's a well established jungle.  A 5' topper and 25hp will demolish brambles easily.  If you're cutting long grass and it's wet don't let the arisings  kill the grass underneath.  It's one of the many things a chain harrow is useful for.


I'm doubtful about the friendly farmer idea at this time if year.  They're all busy, but not as busy as the contractors. Round here it's 100 to get the tractor into the field, then 50ph IF they turn up.   We're knee deep in grass but there's no chance of making any hay with it. 
Being certain just means you haven't got all the facts

Moleskins

  • Joined Sep 2009
  • England
Re: How to look after 2 acres properly
« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2012, 10:51:33 pm »
We have also bought 3 pygmy goat wethers  :goat: for one area and so far they are great and we don't have any problems. Have only had them a week though!


A week isn't long enough for the goats to have formed themselves into a working escape committee, give them a bit longer.  ;D
Time flies like an arrow but fruit flies like a banana.

 

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