Thursday, March 17, 2011

Probing (the soil)

There isn't really all that much for me to do on the farm at this time of year.  The lambs have been born and are doing well - all 68 of them.  And the sheep are bored in the barn because the pastures are too wet and immature for them to go out into the fields just yet.  In fact, the cool temperatures and high rain fall of the last few months (thank you La Nina) mean that the grasses are growing more slowly than usual.

So when I have nothing to do but dust, vacuum clean and laundry, I find things to keep me busy outside.  Grass growth is an integral part of what we do here at North Valley Farm.  That means keeping the soil healthy and yesterday I picked up a soil probe from the local field man over in Carlton, so I could send in samples to see if we are low on any essential ingredients for optimal grass growth.

 Here is a photo of the tools of the trade - a soil probe and a clean bucket. I walked approximately 30 acres of pasture and took close to 40 samples in the following manner: first one depresses the hollow end of the soil probe like this:

 Then you hop onto the bottom of the probe with both feet like this:


Think pogo stick without the bounce.  This pushes the hollow part of the probe down into the soil and you pull out your sample.  The samples are collected in the bucket, mixed together, and then submitted for testing.  We are going to test for soil pH as well as several essential nutrient and mineral levels.  As you can see there is plenty of grass as well as clover, but it really isn't growing gangbusters yet and won't until we get warmer temperatures.

It is a long walk back from the fields to the house.  But it was good to be outside.  I bet I know what the soil tests will tell me - that I have to spend lots of money!  Pete and I will work on varmint control next.  I've gotten pretty handy with the gopher traps...............

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