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Author Topic: MANAGING A WILD FLOWER MEADOW  (Read 2225 times)

bungalow Bill

  • Joined Dec 2015
  • Llanynghenedl, Anglesey
MANAGING A WILD FLOWER MEADOW
« on: January 03, 2016, 11:42:16 am »
Dear TAS members
I have seeded a 1 acre meadow with wild flowers and created a wild life pond. The meadow is immediately facing my barn conversion  and its really nice to look out over it from the comfort of my lounge. I realise that such a luxury may not be in the true small holding spirit as it does not produce food nor sustain any live stock, but I like it.
I need to manage the meadow and cut it once in early spring and again in late autumn collect grass or make hay.  I dont have any farming equipment as yet and in truth the price of tractors, crass cutters, rake attachments and bailers is a bit scary and far outweighs the cost of getting a contractor in to do the necessary. I dont mind cutting the grass using a scythe but hay making by hand is a daunting task.
Can anyone tell me if I can accomplish the cutting and disposal of the grass twice a year using some form of live stock? I mean having the grass eaten would save me a lot of work and I dont really need any hay. How many beasties would it take to clear a 1 acre meal of meadow. Is it a practical solution.
I have another few acres spare to help keep the beasties  fed between the spring and autumn feasts, but it would mean moving them into my orchards, so best if the recommendations did not include apple loving types.

Regards
« Last Edit: January 03, 2016, 02:01:35 pm by bungalow Bill »
Bungalow Bill

Foobar

  • Joined Mar 2012
  • South Wales
Re: MANAGING A WILD FLOWER MEADOW
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2016, 02:14:29 pm »
Hay making by hand isn't so bad, especially if you don't work full time.  You just need to get a good spell of weather.  You don't need many tools, just a scythe, fork and a rake, and you can make yourself a little hand baler out of wood (I did).

Spring grazing could be done with some cows (calves maybe best?) and/or sheep - probably best to loan in some from a near by farmer.  The farmer can tell you how many you need depending on the length of the grass. Don't buy your own stock in just for this, it's not worth it.

You need to remember that every time you cut and remove the grass you are taking away nutrients.  If you have stock grazing it then they are putting the nutrients back into the soil via their dung.  Also, I expect you will want to let it go to seed too - but if you do that then any hay crop you take off it has less nutritional value.

There is a NT meadow in the next village to me and they sometimes have wild ponies grazing it off or cows, or they just flail mow it and leave the cut grass to rot down (which makes it look awful for a couple of months but is probably very good for it).  Maybe it would be worth you trying a few different ways out and see what works best?  Or vary it each year?

bungalow Bill

  • Joined Dec 2015
  • Llanynghenedl, Anglesey
Re: MANAGING A WILD FLOWER MEADOW
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2016, 12:03:59 am »
Foobar,

Thanks for your input. Like the idea of the home made bailer. How does it work?
Bungalow Bill

Foobar

  • Joined Mar 2012
  • South Wales
Re: MANAGING A WILD FLOWER MEADOW
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2016, 09:45:34 am »
There are plans here: http://www.caringforgodsacre.org.uk/images/uploads/fact_sheets/Hand%20Hay%20Baler%20Plans.pdf


Google "hand baler" and you should find some videos/images of it in action. :)

Steph Hen

  • Joined Jul 2013
  • Angus Scotland.
Re: MANAGING A WILD FLOWER MEADOW
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2016, 10:50:49 pm »
Ideally you want to cut it after its all seeded and not to leave the cuttings in place. The sim is to reduce the soil fertility over time till the flowers are really well established and the nettles, docks and grasses aren't taking over. Not sure which animals would graze it best. My goats are very fussy, as are horses, cattle like longer grasses, but not sure. Sheep are meant to prefer shorter grass, but the ones we sometimes have in get through the standing hay crop alright... I'd say sheep - even if they were just there for a couple of weeks in September or october and then off again..?

 

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