Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mowing Stopped

I think the field mowing has come to an end for this year. Not because of an angry mob picketing in the front yard, but because of a change in field conditions. The big rain last week has brought the soil up to its maximum water holding capacity. Even though the soil is not muddy, it is highly susceptible to compaction. I don’t want to risk destroying the existing high quality soil structure by being on the field at the wrong time.

In the distance is the remaining field I had planned to mow this year. Unless we have a winter drought, the field won’t dry out until next year. Water held by the soil is either removed by plant transpiration, which isn’t happening now, or by evaporation, which is an extremely slow process when the soil is cold and covered by a heavy mulch. It won’t be a major setback if I wait a year to mow this field.

I could mow once the ground is frozen, but it’s really hard to set flags in frozen soil. The worst situation is when the soil surface thaws with ice remaining below. The slippery surface becomes an impossible walking surface and a sliding foot or equipment tire can easily shave off the surface soil and vegetation.

I’ve had a couple of e-mails criticizing the destruction of valuable winter wildlife habitat. I’ve mentioned before that this is an inevitable result of my chosen management style. Of course, if it weren’t for my management decisions, the habitat wouldn’t have been there to cut. The fact that these actions result in a much improved grassland habitat also needs to be factored into the equation.

You also have to consider that I have not, in my enthusiasm, denuded the entire property. Turning 180 degrees from the previous view, we find a nice grassy field, spared from the ravages of the spinning blade.

Between the two largest mowed fields is a field with tall grasses left intact.

Tall grasses, forbs, and sumac laden with seed clusters are all beside a field sporting a haircut almost as closely cropped as that of the owner. Land management is usually an intrusive and violent activity. This is even true of hands-off management where entire populations of plants and animals are systematically eliminated in favor of the next step in natural succession. I’m always happy to discuss my management philosophies with anyone interested and will even try new management techniques that appear suited to my situation. There was one individual in the past that seemed to believe his mission in life was to change what I was doing. I politely invited him to go home and manage his own property. One of the real joys in managing your own property is the absence of any need to satisfy the whims of Supervisors, Committees or Boards.

1 comment:

  1. ...the grass birds are happy you're mowing, because they will have grasses to live in next summer! (You know me and my Henslows...)