A few nights ago at 2.00 a.m. we woke to an almighty thunderous bang. Our first thought was that lightning had struck our roof. A sub-antarctic weather pattern had swept up the country during the night. Multiple lightning strikes lit the sky that night – including a spectacular show of fork lightning. I pulled the duvet over my head – couldn’t be bothered worrying at that time of the night.
There were no floods this time – we recorded about 15 to 16 mm of rain. But the stormy squalls have created squelchy soil conditions. Our problem is to keep the animals off the grass. Heavy animals do real damage to the grass as their hooves sink into the water-logged clay soil. We’d anticipated heavy rain and Himself shifted our cattle the previous day to a sheltered paddock should it rain heavily. We have a hard stand-off area that was once historically a minor rural farm road that runs between our polyhouse and the totara trees. It’s a great windbreak and shelter from the cold rain for the animals. Even still, the pugging is visible in the paddocks and our concern is the compaction of the soil.
The blustery westerly wintery fronts continue. Today is the first opportunity I’ve had to get a good look at the vegetable garden after the stormy weather. However, there’s always something to cheer about and to enjoy. The cyclamen and daffodils are rewarding. I’m relieved to see vegies I planted in May are growing as they should. At least the day and night temperatures are still conducive to growth. Snow doesn’t happen in our region – but we can get a light frost in our valley.
I am always concerned about the life of soil under my gumboots. I’ve been reading Gaia’s Garden; a guide to home-scale permaculture by Toby Hemenway (2000). Ponder this:
An acre of good pasture may support a horse of two, say about a half-ton of aboveground animals. But living in the soil of that acre may be 2 tons of worms and another 2 tons of bacteria, fungi, and soil animals such as millipedes and mites.
The health of the myriad of animal life is one heap of responsibility. At present my soil is rich with earthworms. They and all the other mites need humus to feed on in order to rebuild the soil. If we’re to have animals on our lifestyle block then we have to keep the micro live-stock well nourished with humus.