Grassy Kind Of Week

I used to think grass was grass. You know – green stuff that makes lawns. I never imagined I would have a week (or a lifestyle) that revolves around….  grass.

OK – my Grass Week, so far, starting from last Saturday:

The F's at Danthonia Field Day. The farmos and the farmas (see below for explanation) - plus both the central models here names start with F!!!

The F’s at Danthonia Field Day. The farmos and the farmas (see below for explanation) – plus both the central models here names start with F!!!

Saturday – Danthonia Field Day  at Inverell

(Now I have to learn how to insert a connection to another of my posts – hmmmmm – all part of this blog learning curve. First save post as draft so I don’t lost this one as there are so many options to try – yep, done – and now search for how to insert connection to post…….Mmmmmm…….Ta daaaa!! I think this should work!!)

https://fionaonthego.wordpress.com/2013/06/02/peter-andrews-danthonia-and-grass/

(Oh – I can summarise it like this below instead of having the whole URL!! Oh – how clever!!! Slowly I am learning to make this more functional!!)

Danthonia Field Day Post

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Even when the slop is not that great and the "above" looks "good" (from a distance) erosion happens!

Even when the slop is not that great and the “above” looks “good” (from a distance) erosion happens!

Sunday: Writing blog about Field Day and considering what I had learned. The big things were relating to helping to heal erosion: I have been bothered by erosion on The GO. How does one combat it? It is all caused by water that is flowing from above (critical point!) so how do you change the “Above”? Or do you just concentrate on the below?

Going to Danthonia made me realise its possible to change the “above” regardless of how bad “above” is and some opportunities to assist with the change.

At Danthonia:  Firstly they changed their headspace (critical point!!). At Danthonia they plant trees on the ridges (including deciduous ones so that there is constant leaf litter and especially the huge drop of leaves in autumn causing more mulch (Jorge – remember  we discussed deciduous as we were walking in the mountains near Madrid last year – meaning the trees that drop all their leaves in winter – de hoja caduca!)); they mulch the trees so there is some organic matter to start the process and to ensure the soil biology has some “food”; they slash the valleys and take the grass to the top of the ridges – sometimes just as slashed grass but also as hay for the cows during winter; they feed the cows at the top of the slopes….. lots of great, simple ideas to change the ridges and therefore the falling slope below, including its erosion. Mmmm… food for my brain! Do I need to eat grass too??

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A very nice piece of grass. Meet our local grass - coincidentally called "Coolatai Grass". I remember this one!!

A very nice piece of grass. Meet our local grass – coincidentally called “Coolatai Grass”. I remember this one!!

Monday: Reading the book chapter  my house mate Jude is writing about Grazing Management (this is 50 pages of 12 font about how you get cows to eat grass!! And there are about 15 OTHER chapters in the soon to be published book!! When I was in the city this cow business seemed so easy. My friends bought meat at the shop!).

Wow – I have such a long way to go. But I think I get the basics of the cattle industry (note: cattle industry not land healing industry – there is a difference ………    Sunlight gives free energy to plants, cows eat grass, cows are sold for money, people buy meat to eat (Well, some do. Those of us who are vegetarian (like me) don’t. I know – oxymoron – vegetarian on what appears to be a beef farm but it actually a “healing land” farm that uses cows to do the healing…. another story for another time!!).

Sounds simple. The sun gives us free energy (What a TOTAL bonus – free and a meter can’t be put on it (I hope the crazy legal/Big Brother Profit system won’t let that happen – that sunlight can be patented or metered!). It seems to me the most critical bit, after assuming that the sun will come up and do its bit every day, is the plants – otherwise the rest doesn’t happen. So I need to learn about plants and how they grow. I have a feeling this might become part of my blog posts!! Don’t yawn – its IS fascinating. Remember, I was a city chick. Grass was lawn!! Now it’s……. stay posted …………..

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The helicopter view of grass and the insect’s view of grass:

All you see is a sea of grass - here a sea of Coolatai grass. You can't imagine that this much grass wouldn't hold all rain that falls here!!

All you see is a sea of grass – here a sea of Coolatai grass that’s a person swimming in the middle!!). You can’t imagine that this much grass wouldn’t hold all rain that falls!! Acres and acres of grass, but…….

But then you look between the tussocks and there's LOTS of gaps so when there is a lot of water, the water just rushes over the ground's surface taking with it bits of dirt. I suddenly can see how erosion happens. Gaps between grass plants means the perfect surface for water erosion to start! (Light bulb moment!!). Need ground cover!

….. but then you look between the tussocks and there’s LOTS of gaps – exposed earth – so when there is a lot of water, if it can’t soak in, just rushes over the ground’s surface taking with it bits of dirt. I suddenly saw how erosion happens. Gaps between grass plants means the perfect surface for water erosion to start! (Light bulb moment!!).                                                  We need ALL the ground to be covered. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tuesday: Monitoring grass on The GO.

Loaded and setting off on the Monitoring Expedition. Note pink tagging tape on pole - this has become our designation that a monitoring party is under way!!

Loaded with all the equipment and setting off on the Monitoring Expedition. Note pink tagging tape on pole – this has become our designation that a (girls) monitoring party is under way!!

Opps - the MOST important piece of "equipment" - Jude's brain!!

Opps – can’t forget the MOST important piece of “equipment” – Jude’s brain!!

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Yep – we went out there and estimated grass in the paddock – species, quantity, quality. I’ll write a post on that too – it’s really cool as then you get to observe and interact with your land on a VERY intimate scale and really see what’s there on/in the ground – what is holding the land together with its roots and what the cows are eating (and pooing out to nourish the land. Poo is REALLY important too but really its just another form of grass (there’s a book chapter on that too – converting grass to cow poo!). You get to be out in the fresh air doing REAL science. Noting change as its happening.

The quadrate along the transect line. All looks the same to me - grass. Luckily Jude knows ALL the grasses so can identify them for the survey. I am the grand scribe. I can hold a pencil!!

The quadrate along the transect line. All looks the same to me – grass. Luckily Jude knows ALL the grasses so can identify them for the survey. I am the grand scribe. I can hold a pencil!!

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Wednesday: Monitoring on another property. This property has had “grass available to eat” (my terminology!) rotations for about 7 years. I’ve only seen the last 2 years plus photos from before it all started and wow – the positive changes are just awesome. Paddocks that were predominantly woody weeds, monocultures, saffron thistles, or other “weeds” (ie plants whose virtues haven’t yet been found (quote adapted from Ralph Waldo Emerson!)) have changed to diverse grasslands/ profitable “grass available to eat”. Inspiring how farmos (the masculine of farmers based on Spanish that masculine words end in “o” ) and farmas (Female farmers – Spanish words which are feminine often end in “a”) can regenerate the land when they change their decisions and apply cows rather than chemicals!

Setting up the transect. The VERY scientific piece of equipment on the left - the plastic drum - marks it easier to find the start of the transect next time unless......

Setting up the transect. The VERY scientific piece of equipment on the left – the plastic drum – makes it easier to find the start of the transect next time unless…….....unless to cows have dance with it or played football with the drum. THEN there is some searching to be done so as to ensure the same transect each time you monitor.. …… unless the cows have dance with it or played football with the drum. THEN there is a searching party so as to ensure the  transect starts at the same point each time you monitor.

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Some of the "lawn" that I will use for mulch!!

Some of the cut  “lawn” that I will use for mulch!!

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Thursday: Today – a day for reflection on grass and soil and writing some more about all this on my blog. No doubt talking with my house mate about grass – a normal meal time topic here.

So – there is only Friday left – and the rest of today to fill with grass. No doubt grass will pop back into the rest of my week, today and tomorrow. I’m looking at about 0.5 acre  of grass in front of me which needs to be whipper snipped as it’s about 1.2m tall – in the home yard of the house. This is a more energetic way that grass is in my life. Once cut I use the grass for all sorts of things around the house – for the chooks nest behind the pile of salt and sulphur, for garden mulch, for under my poo piles, for around trees, to stop other plants growing somewhere……

Well, its time to move the grass specimens off the dining table (I hear you laugh – I kid you not – we even have grass species in a vase here – pride of place on the sideboard!!!) and have some breakfast (NOT grass – but I’m sure I could learn which grasses are actually palatable for humans. Let me know if YOU know this!).

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(This was written sitting watching the sunrise, listening to the birds, wrapped up in a blanket as its getting a bit chilly now that its winter. Tough – I know – but someone had to choose to do it!! )

Pre dawn spectacular. I could easily take a photo of every sunrise as they are all so beautiful - each different - but I will resist and just Om the energy into my blog!! xx

Pre dawn spectacular. I could easily take a photo of every sunrise as they are all so beautiful – each different – but I will resist and just Om the energy into my blog!! xx

Hasta pronto……..

"Working" as the sun rises - what an amazing office with "wall paint" that keeps changing and inspiring!!

“Working” as the sun rises – what an amazing office with “wall paint” that keeps changing and inspiring!!

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One response to “Grassy Kind Of Week

  1. Pingback: You Know You’re In The Country When…… | Fiona On The GO·

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