A Few More Thoughts on Pasture Management

Pasture management is a system by which farmers and ranchers manage their acreage in order to gain the best possible yield for their animals with as little stress on the land as possible.

Regular “pasture walks” accomplish a great deal and allow the farmer to recognize the rate of consumption of the grasses and plants as well as address any problems that arise.

A conscientious farmer will also pay attention to the amount of manure collecting on the pasture.

Positive management practices will impede erosion and preclude runoff reaching streams and waterways. (This is especially important if you live near an environmentally fragile area like a riparian buffer, for instance.)

Rotational grazing will allow sufficient re-growth and minimize damage from animal “tramping” as well.

Pasture management is a year-round responsibility.

Remember to soil-test your pasture. See if there’s anything to “feed” it so that it may, in turn, provide feed for your livestock.

The local cooperative extension in your area is, as always, a great resource!

Skunk Cabbage

Forget your daffodils and tulips!  The real harbinger of spring in these parts?  Skunk cabbage.

The rhizomes (horizontal underground stems) that anchor this plant can live thousands of years, according to botanists, and no matter where you find eastern skunk cabbage (from Canada all the way to Georgia) the species is the same—meaning it hasn’t adapted to different zones. All it requires are damp/boggy areas which remain wet year-round.

The name comes from the slight odor it gives off that serves as an attractor for pollinators.

Skunk cabbage is also unique in that it sweats. Its “job” is to drink in the water where it’s anchored and expel the moisture into the air. It can do this successfully in the early spring because leaves haven’t fully developed on trees to shade the plants and they can drink in the sunlight as well. However, by mid-summer, the skunk cabbage has become a slimy mess, shaded by full foliage of the woodland areas.

Calcium oxylate crystals in the leaves help to create a heat in the dead of winter which allows the plant to begin its trek up through the frozen surface. It is NOT an edible plant; parts are toxic.

Skunk cabbage has been around for thousands of years—a native wetlands plant. It intrigues everyone from the weekend hiker to the learned botanist. Me?  I just like to be reminded spring is right around the corner.

Wildflowers – Webisode 2

Our host, Tracy Toth, completes our tour of a riparian buffer while demonstrating how native plant species can support a healthy ecosystem.

Wildflowers – Webisode 1

Our host, Tracy Toth, demonstrates how providing an opportunity for native plant species to propagate a waterway buffer can naturally accomplish so many vital “tasks” that are necessary for a healthy ecosystem.