Current Topic: With better fencing, crop (horse) rotation and a regular regime of mowing, harrowing and drainage repair the pastures are once again productive.
The pastures here suffer from years of neglect and poor management.
The pastures are a mixture of Bur, Thistle and Tumbleweed with a small amount of grass choking it's way through.
The Tumbleweed will trip you as you are walking along it's a tough shrub like annoyance.
The Thistle is a short plant, maybe knee high, but it is broad-leaved and equipped with endless needle-like armor. It's brutal on the ankles and knees.
The Bur Plant. That's a mean one. They commonly grow to six feet and spew these small spheres with barbed spikes. These are a disaster. It takes but a short walk through them to collect hundreds of spawn. They are like natural velcro and will stick (meld) with clothes, skin and worse hair. And horses have lots of hair. And tails... And manes... This stuff is a real nuisance.
Even worse every shelter and feed zone is overflowing with muck. In a kind of a slurry form. I'm gagging just writing about it. It was an unsanitary and unsightly problem and seriously neglected.
Surprisingly... It's still gets worse. In order to manage the numerous springs (water) at the top of the property a series of drainage line exists to redirect the water under rather then over (swamp) the property and they are progressively starting to fail.
As long as the steady stream of water flows we have land. When it plugs up we have swamp. Ya know! To re-channel these as ground level streams would not only add beauty there would be less maintenance. Especially since they can be directed any way we encourage them. Remember water is 'lazy' If you give it a fair route water will follow it.
On to the pastures... We were determined not to use chemical weapons. Instead we chose a regime of hand combat (pulled as many as possible), burning (the ones that wouldn't give up easily) and mowing the rest. The pulling and burning went very smoothly but when it came to mowing. Our fellow equestrians thought we were mad. Until they saw the results.
We started out by hand mowing. We rented a hand-operated rough-cut mower. Meant for monster jobs. Along with the burning most of the weeds are now gone and the pastures are all cut short.
Even still sometimes we used the lawnmower to trim down the weeds. It's all we had until we bought the tractor and rough-cut mower. None the less, and even though our friends thought we were wacky, by knocking down the weeds the grass had a chance to recover and eventually take over.
And the difference is remarkable. With regular grazing and by rough-cutting the weedy and unutilized (by the horses) sections the pastures are. Well... Pastures.
The results couldn't be more satisfying.