Mowing and silage

Our lawngrass with weeds in it, field of what is best called hay has reached ridiculous heights. And after receiving the news on Friday that our neighbours behind us had seen a sluggish but waking up tiger snake in their chook house we knew that this long weekend we simply HAD to focus on fixing our lawnmowers and then reducing the undergrowth too much more managed and snake-unfriendly heights.

A tiger snake. Venomous and not against a bit of human biting action if the need arises. Not deliberately aggressive though, unlike the other local resident, the brown snake.

Ok, that picture has taken me some courage to find and share, My hands do NOT want to be typing so close to even a photo of a snake. 😦

Our mower that came with us from the Spotswood house decided to bite the dust over 6 months back but this hasn’t been a problem as a) the grass hadn’t grown due to lack of rain and b) we had a ride on tractor mower. Then Trevor started playing up. We fixed him, he broke. We fixed him again and something else broke. It’s been an ongoing saga. Poor Martin has spent more time underneath Trev, tinkering and fixing him that riding him. We think we have him just about sorted now though. *sigh*

My "lawn".

My “lawn”.

Yesterday though, Martin focused on the old mower, finally, after working solidly for hours, managed to get it working. Mostly. It’s choked its way through the 18 inch high grass out the front, chopping about 1/3, stalling on occasion (hitting large spadefuls of baked clay left in the grass will do that to a mower) and eventually the light ran out. Still, we got some of it down, enough to get stuck in and continue along with today. The plan is eventually that our front garden will contain no grass but all garden, mulched paths and productive deliciousness. It will take time though. We have the trees cut and plenty of cardboard though to make a start so the system will involve mowing the appropriate area, sheet mulching it, moving the wood into the hugelkultur bed rows with mulch on top too (the poplar branches), then the mown grass (nitrogen ) will go on top ready for the compost top layer and plants (curcurbits this year). By moving in stages, bed by bed I hope we can get it all cleared and looking tidy rather than like a meadow with wood piles like it currently does. 😦

Whilst I was mowing yesterday and waiting for my powerhouse husband to come and restart the mower I had a look up about making silage. It struck me then that the grass was more like a meadow for hay and I remembered reading up on silage a while back that it’s just fermented grass rather than drying it to make hay. A quick google search on making silage at home found me this link and it turns out I can easily make my own silage! Great for the chooks in late Summer or Autumn when the grass runs out. Miss Anna might even like some then too. The lambs will be butchered once the grass runs out if they’re at size but if not they too can have some silage. 🙂 All assuming it works of course.

A handy bucket, a bag and lots and lots of freshly mown grass.

A handy bucket, a bag and lots and lots of freshly mown grass.

I grabbed some of our shopping bags, stuffed them full of grass, tied them off, turned them over and bagged them again. Due to not being so great at being air tight I’ve quadruple bagged them (I know, a lot of plastic being used) and I will shove them in the shed for a few months and see what happens. If they don’t work I am hoping whatever resultant sludge is left will hopefully be able to be composted but if they do work then I will have silage with a lower than normal carbon footprint. Sure there is plastic involved but it is reused plastic bags at least rather than new-made specially silage plastic and the silage won’t have traveled more than 30 metres by the time it is fed to the animals. That’s got to be a win, right?

Bagged up silage, ready for storage.

Bagged up silage, ready for storage.

Anyway, stay tuned for how it works out. 🙂


17 thoughts on “Mowing and silage

  1. Shudders, I am sooooo glad we do not have snakes here!!

  2. Lynda says:

    I cant believe that i actually followed yor link all the way and now i too can make silage but cant say that i think i have much use for it here in suburbia. You on the other hand, its a great cost saving idea. Well Done You, again….. I think Martin just likes tinkering with toys as he seems to do it over and over. Arent your little sheep eating it down fast enough? Do you think you could put Anna out there on a chain for a little while to help out? Maybe a rabit tractor – you could make bunny burgers. (Sorry Vegans)..

    • Lynda says:

      Gosh, what the hell is up with my spelling when i am commenting. Ive been typing for over 30 years and can do it with my eyes shut but constantly find mistakes in my comments after (of course) ive pressed the button. I am now blaming the keyboard. Must be sticky letters. LOL

      • lol. You may have been typing for 30 years but the use of capital “I” has slipped under your radar. 😉 Meh, with P, L and O on the occasional fritz on my keyboard I am having to keep a VERY close eye on what I type.

      • I went back and re-read for the errors (hadn’t even seen them) but figure a rabit is suitable for a rabid little hippy. 😉

        • Lynda says:

          You stinker. Yes i have totally forgone the use of capital i as in I. What a waste of time when trying to send ones thoughts out into the never never.

    • The lamb girls are doing a great job but this is the grass out front, away from sheepish teeth as well as along the creek edge and other places off limits (currently) to the girls. Miss Anna is a browser and as such she’s more into trees and things rather than grass. She’d rather prune the hawthorns and poplars of their new shooting leaves than eat grass, although she does eat Mallow, a weed we have rather a lot of in the garden. 🙂
      Rabbits are on the “maybe one day” list but building a burrowing proof enclosure and sourcing the bunnies (wild caught or breeding stock) isn’t on the priority list this year I’m afraid. And the wild one we have around our street is far more interested in what my veggie garden contains. 😦
      I’d not buy in silage so it’s not going to exactly save us money at the moment but it is a cool experiment and it’s always cool to have this knowledge under ones belt. You never know when making silage might come in handy for you. Think about it… Peak oil crisis, neighbourhood bands together to keep a cow, everyone saves their lawn clippings for fresh fodder, hay or silage. 😉

      • Lynda says:

        Oh, i was watching Joe Salatin this afternoon and he had a groovy raBBit tractor, i thought of you immediately.

        • Yep, the man is a genius. I love watching him preach. There’s no other word for it. He dances around on the stage like a bible belt preacher and it’s wonderful to see! I’m convinced he would thump the pulpit if he stood behind one. His topic is the only thing that is different. 🙂
          I would model my rabbit hutches on his. Can I go back to calling them rabits now? It just fits! 😉

  3. narf77 says:

    Even if the mower doesn’t work you can do a serious number on a snake by hitting it with a stubborn mower that refuses to start…Poor Trev…methinks he is a bit lazy but he certainly keeps Martin busy and off the streets (narf ducks 😉 ). You guys certainly put in a solid effort this weekend didn’t you?! Steve and I had our leisurely slothful Sunday interrupted by some boozy mates from down the road but while they were swilling beer in Steve’s shed (having 2 BIG barking dogs tends to dissuade them from trekking chook poo into the house 😉 ) plans were hatched to collect more fish farm netting after they saw our magnificent edifice to “sock it to the possum man” ness. Today we put the last “wall” around the outside of the greenhouse and then the double layer of netting over it as well. This will act as a sun tamer on hot days and will save us trying to isolate “la Blanche” a whiting agent that we used to paint the large glasshouses with at Polytechnic and that stops everything from being fried by the sun. Think the top of the glasshouse is like a large magnifying glass and my poor plants are ants in some naughty child’s experiment! We won’t be storing plants in the glasshouse much and it will be integrated back into the propagation cycle where it belongs. The only problem is that we have no power point anywhere near it so under bed heating is out of the question for seedlings and cuttings but we can raise them in the shed with our propagation heaters.

    You guys need a scythe. Don’t laugh. Steve and I used one at the polytechnic when we saw it hooked over a rafter and forgotten. It was wicked sharp and cut the longest grass with ease. Forget 3 passes with the lawnmower, this sucker was deadly and the exercise was amazing. Also very green and completely sustainable. No carbon emissions aside from the heavy breathing and increased exhaling ;). I need cardboard too…I have to find myself a Lynda D! 😉

    Glad paid a shyster to mow her large expanse of lawn around the house ($80/hour in Tassie for someone who sits on a ride on lawnmower? SHYSTER!) and he didn’t even have the courtesy to take the bloody grass with him when he went so I get all of it for my massive hodgepodge of ameliorations and soil amendments garden. I am going to toss everything into this mix. Steve and I will be making regular trips over to Kelso beach to bring back seaweed and seagrass for top dressing, off to Exeter to pick up lots of bags of mushroom compost, chopped up wattle branches and leaves, all of that stashed aged horse poo that the chooks took great delight in rummaging through (but thankfully the walls kept it inside the compound) and whatever else I can rummage up. We have to move the compost bin (big one) into the compound and start composting inside where the possums can’t leisurely pick out the “good bits” and the chooks can’t hop in and scoff everything else. They have 4 acres of green tender shoots out there; they don’t need my turnip tops!

    Why not get hold of some plastic bins with lids for your silage experiment? You could fill them to the top, get the hoppers to “hop” on top and squish it all down and keep filling till it is cram packed full then lid it after putting a plastic large yard bin bag over the entire bin full to seal the fermentation in? At least you would be able to reuse them on a regular basis if your experiment turns out fine and if it doesn’t, bins are useful for dry feed as well (and for making worted beer…never forget the worted beer! 😉 )

    • I have 4 metal bins with various feed in them but 1 will soon be empty and can be used for that too. I too thought of a scythe and would LOVE one. It’s on the list. To be honest it would have been the most effective too and cost no more labour than swinging the whipper snipper to make 5 or 6 passes to get the 20 inch grass short enough to handle. The mower really didn’t like the grass either, before or after the whipper snipper had made its dozen passes. 😦 I hope that next year there will be no grass (or precious little)growing in the front yard and very little out the back as I plan to get lambs much earlier next year too if the experiment this year works for us. We will need something to keep the veggie patch and creek edges mown and that will be it. 🙂 A scythe will work wonderfully along the creek edge too so it’s on my list of tools to acquire. 🙂 I’d love to not need a petrol mower!
      Your gardens sound so gorgeous! I am most envious of all that lovely horsepoo and more but I know I can access it if I need. Heating your greenhouse might be easier than you think… Look up rocket stoves and dream! It’s been done in greenhouses. I think they heat the water which is stored in large black plastic tubs and any seeds on top of those would rocket out and grow like topsy as you say. 😉
      Here’s to both of us being truly effective and motivated in the gardens today. 😀

  4. foodnstuff says:

    I get 2 huge bags of lawn clippings from a friend’s garden every 3 weeks which I shove in the compost. I’m off to check out that silage link. Thanks.

    • I can’t compost ours right at the moment as it had all gone to seed on top and I don’t want or need that through my compost. I can however feed it to the animals or compost it underneath the cardboard layer of the hugels. Either way it won’t go to waste. I have considered asking our neighbours diagonally across the creek who were out mowing thier lawn today if I may have their clipings but I have never met them and Martin only once. It’s a bit rude just to ask for them I think although if you don’t ask you never find out. It might be a great way to meet them too. Maybe tomorrow. 🙂

  5. […] off work to make it a 4 day weekend and that’s what Martin did. We’ve spent the weekend preparing for snake season and clearing away the wood piles and branches littering the front and back gardens. Tuesday […]

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