Local may be overstating it slightly, but still. We recently visited our closest and most convenient farm shop. Like real grown-up farmers.
For those who may not know, a farm shop is a retailer which specialises in equipment and supplies for farms and farmers. It’s a little like the love-child of a Bunnings style hardware store and the rural bakery/deli that inevitably exists in every small town. They carry everything from reticulation pipes & connectors to worming medications for animals to pasture seed. Which is what we were there for.
This winter is not the time for goats, or geese. This spring still may not be – there’s an awful lot of infrastructure to get in first. But eventually, goats and geese will happen. I am still dreaming of a house cow too, although my spreadsheets tell me that it’s really not financially worthwhile (the cost of annual insemination is too high to make the beef from an annual steer worth it, and milk is so cheap that I can’t use it to offset the cost of keeping a cow unless I bottom out my feed price estimates completely). But either way, we still need pasture, so I did some research, and I have the first pass of pasture seed.
Proper commercial seed, too – it’s kinda exciting. We bought 5 kg each of Irwin Hunters’ Northern Perennial Pasture Mix and SARDI 10 series 2 lucerne. Both are hardy, suited to this locality and climate in a rainfed (non-irrigated) system, and both should be effective in holding down the soil and preventing erosion as well as providing some good fodder for animals. The pasture mix is recommended at 5 – 10 kg per hectare, and the lucerne at 7 – 9 kg per hectare (or 5 – 7 if combined with something else), and as our initial pasture area is about one hectare we thoguth we’d start with that much. I will be adding some other bits & pieces to it as well – marigolds, dandelions, clover, and a bunch of herbs which are supposed to be good for milk flavour and volume in dairy animals. A scattering of flax and sunflowers for variety, and because pastures should have flowers. And because the seeds are good for butterfat content in dairy animals. Maybe radishes or chicory.
The plan is to make a batch of seedballs with this lot, to give the pasture plants the best start we can without heavy tillage. It worked in Japan for Masanobu Fukuoka, so it should work here too. So we’ll be pulling out the seedball machine in a week or two.
This was only my second ever visit to a farm shop (the first being a few years ago to pick up samples of soil bacteria innoculants). It’s still a challenge to me, with my expectation of everything being online and having at least a PDF catalogue on their website – farm shops in general seem to not really have caught on that a website is more than a glossy advertising page a la the old White Pages. Having to go in person or phone just to see if they carry the things I want is weird for me, but I can do it. I have 10 kg of pasture seed to prove that. 🙂