Keep your bills up!

I am beginning to find more and more reasons to prefer ducks to chickens as a egg-producing animal on a small holding, especially if gardening is underway.

I’ve already detailed how much simpler and cheaper duck housing is compared to chicken housing, mainly because ducks don’t roost. I’ve also mentioned that have far more endearing personalities, they can be herded about like sheep, and they don’t scratch the ground, making them far more benign in a place with gardening.


Slug massacre underway.

But they have some more advantages. One is that they are active foragers in the rain and other adverse weather. Ducks love the rain. It’s almost as if when it is no raining they are slightly depressed and have to keep encouraging each other for the day when the rain comes again. When it rains they can really devastate slug populations. Worms and slugs come towards the surface when it rains and ducks rove through the herbage with genocidal glee. The worms always come back, because some stay below the surface, but slugs are set back for a long time once ducks have cleared the area. Ducks will also pick off cabbage caterpillars from any fall brassicas you have, especially if the brassicas aren’t green (like Red Cabbage and some kinds of Kale).

Another advantage to ducks is that they are quite habitual and have a flocking instinct, unlike chickens. Sometimes I think chickens have such poor memories that they scatter and wander to and fro because they forget what they are doing. Ducks on the other hand remember quite well, and like dairy cattle, get used to daily patterns which make them easier to manage. We no longer fence in our ducks, we simply put a fence around their duck house to protect it from predators. They go out as they please in the day foraging and then always return at nightfall and daybreak for their feeding of scratch grain (we no longer feed them total rations, and they seem to be doing just as well). Unlike chickens they do not end up on your door step, or in the neighbor’s barnyard. They don’t cross the road. They always stay within eyeshot of the pond, their refuge and protector. Because of this their fencing costs are much lower than chickens.


Ducks are always smiling by the way.

Ducks, like dairy cattle, possess a certain dignity that chickens seem to lack that I find amusing. They develop a sort of fondness for whoever feeds them (my oldest daughter) and will follow him or her around. They are quite willing to let you pick them up, or at least don’t put up much of a fight when you do, but when you put them down and let them return to their kind they set about to fastidiously clean themselves of any human stink; they are quite indignant about the whole affair. They also get into amusing fights. When chickens fight, it is not amusing at all. Chickens can kill each other and do. Ducks can’t really hurt each other with those round bills and paddle feet, so they make up for it in quack intensity. Like a grouchy old married couple who would never hurt each other but bicker loudly. They seldom randomly quack, and in fact, at night it is almost assurance there is something amiss. Chickens just make noise for any reason or no reason at all, yet are completely silent when skunks are them eating alive.

Posted in Ducks, Gardening, Weather | Leave a comment

Clay soil carrots

Carrots in most temperate climates are better sewn in late summer and harvested in fall or even winter rather than the typical springtime planting of most garden vegetables. This is because cold weather sweetens carrots while hot weather toughens them. Carrots and their relatives (Parsley and Parsnips) tolerate cold weather quite well; their leaves take frosts, and they seem to grow at even low temperatures. We’ve not yet experienced nightly frost this year, but we are beginning to harvest them anyway, and we will go on harvesting through December probably.


Danvers Half-Long on left, Push Rudhira on the right.

One of challenges of this veggie family is they have tiny seeds that don’t germinate so well. It takes irrigation to get them going on our place as September and October are the driest months of the year. But once they get going, the deep taproot seems to find moisture quite well. They grow better in fall than most other veggies, but are not in the same league as some Brassicas: Kale, Turnips, Swedes, and Radishes all grow quite well in fall.

Another challenge, which is not so easily addressed, is that carrots prefer sandy soil. In fact, I have read that commercial carrots are basically grown in sand bathed in nitrogen and other plant nutrients. This is why they look so perfect and are so long and narrow. When you grow carrots in clay-rich or even clay-dominant soil, like ours, you never get those long, thin carrots, but you can still grow good carrots, even if they do not achieve the grocery-store standard of visual perfection. The answer lies in good soil management and selecting varieties of carrots which can cope.

The Danvers Half-long is a “classic” variety for clay soils and works quite well for us. They have a very ordinary, traditional carrot flavor. Seeds are cheap, and they are productive.

The other variety we tried this year are the Push Rudhira carrots, which are from India. These supposedly have more nutrients in them than ordinary carrots, but they are certainly strange looking things. They have a tendency to fork for us, supposedly an indicator of overly fertilized soil. They are quite sweet. I wouldn’t use these carrots in a dish where the ordinary carrot flavor is called for, and I think they wouldn’t make a normal-tasting Mirepoix, but I like them for fresh eating, and our kids prefer them. They are coarser and crunchier than usual, and have surprising flavors not normally found in carrots (almost tomato-like). They are about as productive as the Danvers Half-long. We’ve found them no hardier or easier to grow compared to more ordinary varieties.

Posted in Food, Gardening, Weather | Leave a comment

Makin’ Bacon

One of the more worthwhile foods to produce at home is bacon. It is also somewhat fun. However, to make bacon, you’re going to need a pig.


Homemade bacon is better left as a solid chunk and sliced as desired.

We don’t raise pigs, at least not yet. Being an animal that one more or less feeds foods to that one can otherwise eat they are a “luxury” food. This is one of the practical reasons why I think it was forbidden in the lean Old Testament times. But we are not so lean anymore. We are producing an excess of workable pig food.

Pigs are magnificent animals at disposing of excess food, or food that is of too low a grade for human consumption. Have some whey left over from cheesemaking, or buttermilk left over from butter making? Feed it to pigs. Just have excess milk from an over-productive cow? Feed it to the pig. Have a bunch of large kitchen scraps that chickens can’t handle? Feed it to a pig with those marvelous molars. Wormy apples, nuts with bugs in them…to the pig. You’ll get it back in the form of an animal that is ideal for butchery and nearly every part delicious, especially bacon, which imparts flavor to so many other foods.

I highly recommend Butchering by Adam Danforth. It is just an outstanding book and covers poultry, lamb, and pork. Frankly, lamb is an awful lot like deer. It’s a better deer butchery guide than any book I’ve come across. The greatest challenge to processing a pig is scraping–the laborious, tedious, and time inefficient process of removing hair from the skin. Scraping involves heating up copious amount of water and requires a big metal vat, too. There is another way, however, one that I never thought of, but which I’ve used on ducks…JUST SKIN IT.

Poultry and pig skin is edible, so traditionally folks have gone through the trouble of preparing it for consumption. Waste not, right? Chickens are easy to pluck, and I’ve read Turkeys are too. Ducks are not. They have a million small, oily feathers that you can’t get a grip on, and it takes forever to get every last one. After plucking about 3 ducks you just want to give up and skin them, so we did. It’s a small tragedy to lose all that wonderful duck fat, but the meat is just as good skinned. In fact, it’s better in oriental-style duck soups to work with skinless duck because there is less fat. We occidentals like to roast things, which renders the fat out.

I never considered skinning a pig for some reason, but now I believe it may be the way to go for the homesteader, despite the waste of the skin. We just sort of happened into this conclusion. A neighbor offered us a half-pig that a buyer backed out on. It was already dead, gutted, skinned, and chilled. The slaughterhouse did all the hard work for just $30, leaving us the butchering, which is more costly  than those other tasks if you have it done professionally. In fact, the hourly rate for butchery is so high it often exceeds the value of the pig. We paid $85 for the pig, which is less than a dollar per pound, but the quote for the butchery was over $100, and we could tell the slaughterhouse wasn’t interested in doing a one-off pig. Most slaughterhouses want to do one kind of animal per day. This particular place does cattle on Wednesday and pigs on Monday, so being Thursday, they were hot to get rid of it. So we took it, and they were happy, and we were happy, and we had to figure out how to butcher a pig.

After breaking the pig into primal cuts (a sturdy table, a few good knives and a good meat saw are essential here), it is easy to work each primal into the wrapped butcher products you desire. Hams, picnics, butts, chops, loins, and of course, ground pork, which can be turned into sausages of all kinds (and a good manual meat grinder is essential for this). Last of all comes the bacon, which comes from the belly of a pig. This is a fatty part of the animal, but there is much meat running through it. It would be very wasteful to render it for lard, or even to grind it with meatier pieces. By curing it you convert what is essentially a low-grade part of the animal into one of the most delectable. Basically you heavily salt it (with some sugar and spices) and place it in a refrigerator for about 5 days. This draws out moisture and imparts flavor. Then you smoke the the meat that has had the moisture reduced by the salt curing. We do it on a Weber grill, a very versatile device that can double as smoker, a pizza/steak oven, and many other tasks that Weber would never tell you about. Six charcoal briquettes and some green apple twigs did the job of providing very little heat and an abundance of smoke, which is desirable. After three hours, it was done. It wasn’t long before a bit was sliced off and fried in a skillet. The best bacon I’ve ever had.


Manual grinders are less expensive, easier to clean, smaller, safer, produce a better grind, and are slower. Their slowness is an advantage. The temptation of excessive grinding is too great with an electric grinder.

Now, since we didn’t add any nitrates or other preservatives, the bacon turns grayish (like a pork chop) when fried. It also will probably not last as long, and should be frozen and not refrigerated if longevity is desired. Most importantly, don’t waste the bacon fat. Much like roast duck, the fat from bacon renders out into the skillet. This can be poured off when hot into mug or glass jar and used to fry other things for which the bacon flavor is desired. Since the pig was skinned, and most of the visceral fat gets ground into sausage, this is about the only cooking fat that you will get from a pig treated this way. Lard to my palate is an inferior cooking fat, so I don’t miss it much.

Posted in Ducks, Food, Home Economics, Pigs | Leave a comment

Why hunt?

Some people may wonder why anyone would want to hunt, especially medium game like deer. Our society is virtually pre-occupied with providing entertainment–film, golf, Netflix, professional sports, etc. Why do thousands of folks head out into the woods in November and December to freeze their butts and fingers off? Our ancestors had a clear and compelling reason to hunt–to make it through the winter. We don’t.

I am confining myself to discussion of hunting Whitetail Deer–overwhelmingly the most important game species on this continent. Though I do hunt rabbits, squirrels, and doves, I consider this a different kind of hunting, one I will address at another time.

I’ve alway been fascinated by firearms, and I am pretty open minded when it comes to the kind, though I have a strongly nostalgic heart. If it’s made of steel and wood and uses combustion to propel a projectile, I like it. But change is what keeps something interesting, and after all, firearms are non-living. They are remarkable, in fact, for their durability and longevity. Any well-made firearm, if kept clean and oiled, will last almost indefinitely, easily outliving their makers and generations of owners. I have more than few firearms made in the nineteenth century which are still in fine-working condition, and they are some of my favorites. This constancy invites boredom, though. This is why most people that are fascinated with firearms are constantly messing with them, modifying them, hand-loading ammunition for them. It’s all rooted in the fact that we are alive while firearms are not. But deer…they are alive, too, well, at least until we make them dead.

Some people become quite obsessed with extracting every last bit of accuracy out of a given rifle, in a vain (in my opinion) attempt to give paper some thrill. “Only Accurate rifles are interesting” Townsend Whelen was reputed to say. But for me accuracy became boring, too. I am just not so impressed by achieving tight little groups on paper. I like it for sure, but the larger reality is that this sort of thing is very artificial. It really doesn’t take much skill to get an inherently accurate rifle, put some glass on it, prepare very exacting ammunition, and then shoot off a heavy, bagged bench into a stationary target. This sort of contest is really a matter of who is willing to commit the greatest amount of time and resources to the endeavor. I think it far more interesting and challenging to be able to hit a living, reacting, sensory target under adverse conditions. Our brain goes up against their superior senses; our weapon goes up against their superior speed, concealment, and agility in a forest-wide drama that plays out every year.

Deer are fascinating animals, like most large mammals. As fascinating as I find cattle and  all the other domestic animals, I have nearly boundless admiration for deer, which make their livings on the margins, without the direct assistance of man. In fact, they are among the few animals that get on in spite of our best efforts to eat them. The Native Americans, with all their intelligence and skill, never managed to bring deer populations down using bows and arrows. It took white man, with our firearms, to get the upper hand.

Around WWII in most of the United States Whitetail Deer populations became very low; uncontrolled hunting brought them nearly to extinction like the buffalo. So state governments began to regulate hunting to limit the destruction we could bring to deer, and with changes that came to agriculture post-war, deer populations not only rebounded, they exploded. My grandfather, father, and I were all born in Chicago. When my father was was a child in the early 1950s his father took the family to Wisconsin on a summertime mission “to see a deer” almost certainly prompted by the movie Bambi. They were unsuccessful despite much driving around in woods of Southern Wisconsin. By the time I was a child in the late 1980s, deer were overpopulating the Chicago Forest Preserves, and we watched groups of them from my high school’s grandstand.

Ironically, the decline in the use of pastures and hayfields that I routinely decry was a tremendous boon to deer, much like dumpsters and trashcans have been a great boon to coon and squirrel kind. It’s almost as if deer began to exploit the spaces vacated by sheep and cattle. As the fences were ripped out, and the beans and corn planted, tremendous food resources were created for deer. Marginal lands that were too rugged for tillage were abandoned and reverted to woodlands, a land use pattern initiated by the Conservation Reserve Program, providing ideal early succession woodland deer habitat. Deer are not truly wild anymore. They are semi-domesticated to my thinking. Their populations would be a fraction of what they are without us, but we don’t fence them in, and they flee from us.

Nowadays Whitetails positively require control, and there are a few ways to accomplish this. I am confident in asserting that re-introuduction of predators like Cougars and Wolves will not be popular, so that leaves State governments hiring professional hunters to bag thousands of them or recruiting a legion of amateur hunters to bag a few, charging each of them a small fee for the privilege of doing so (hunting licenses, deer tags, etc.). Economically speaking, the latter method is greatly preferable. Deer hunting keeps balance, while also providing the hunter with a very high-quality red meat.


So, to summarize, I deer hunt for a few reasons:

  1. To provide a non-boring and challenging thing to do with firearms, to appreciate time in the woods
  2. To contribute to deer population control efforts, supporting state wildlife programs
  3. To furnish alternative red meat for the table.


Posted in Food, Grass, Guns, Hunting, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Kefir Cheese Mega Fail

Back in the spring I was exuberant after reading The Art of Natural Cheesemaking by David Asher. This sounded great! Finally, a way to make good cheese without being shackled to mail-order companies for the cultures. And the promise of all these wonderful cheeses to eat all year, even during the cow’s dry period. Alas, it was mostly a waste of time, the cheese at least; the education we received was most valuable.


Is this mold edible, will it make you sick? I don’t know. But it tastes like crap.

Basically the method David Asher uses is to rely upon Kefir, which is a symbiotic colony of microorganisms (bacterias and yeasts, around 20 of them possibly), many of which naturally occur in raw milk. The idea is to treat the cheese in different ways to favor certain organisms in the kefir. He also uses “backslopped” whey to provide cultures in some cheeses. This all sounds so convenient and “natural” and splendid. We’re making cheese the way our ancestors did. Too bad it tastes like crap, and is certainly nothing that would endear anyone to keeping dairy animals or home-cheesemaking.

Kefir doesn’t taste good, so I am not sure why I though it would make a good tasting cheese. It is inferior flavor-wise compared to yogurt prepared from just one or two desirable cultures. I think this is the crux of the matter. Kefir has good organisms in it, which culture the milk and impart positive flavors, but it also has a chance of having bad organisms living in it as well. There are no guarantees. Kefir is not only an unstable product, changing over time under maintenance conditions, it is a non-standard product. We tried Kefir purchased from three different sources, and none of them tasted good, but one of them sure was strong and cultured anything it came into contact with.

The cheeses we make without Kefir–Paneer and Mozzarella basically–turn out fine. They are staples in may family’s diet. Paneer is undoubtedly the best meat substitute I’ve come across. I prefer it over chicken breast. And these are relatively easy cheeses to make compared to aged cheeses, both soft and hard, and are a sure thing. We’ve never had it turn out poorly. Asher’s methods for these cheeses work well, but so does everybody’s methods (Gianaclis Caldwell and Ricki Carroll are the other two major cheesemaking authors in English). There are countless instrutional sources for making these cheeses, which can even be made with store-bough pasteurized homogenized milk.

Aged cheesemaking is quite involved, a real level-up from scratch home cooking. There are more containers to wash, the recipes need to be followed much more carefully, and a whole lot more time is spent in front of hot pots of cheese curds, slowly stirring, or performing other manipulations. It practically drove my wife to despair to watch a half dozen beautiful hard cheeses change into a rainbow of colors in our cheese cave after she spent hours working on them. When we finally cut into them, and she couldn’t even eat them because the odor was so strong and rank, she almost cried. I was able to taste them. Without a doubt the most inferior cheese I’ve ever eaten…worse than even “cheese wiz” and Veleveeta” which are at least edible. And we weren’t born yesterday. Few of our cooking endeavors fail. When we brew something, it works. When we cook something, it works. When we butcher something, it works. Our milk is extremely fresh and clean, lasting weeks in its raw state, and sometimes no more than 10 minutes would elapse between the udder and the cheese pot! Our efforts and ingredients weren’t the source of failure here. It was entirely relying upon an unstable, inconsistent starter organism to ferment our cheeses.

I fault David Asher for promoting this idea of using Kefir instead of prepared, pure, and known cultures. Kefir may work for him (though he doesn’t disclose the percentages of failures he has experienced in his book and you obviously can’t taste something in a book) under his conditions and with his Kefir, but it sure doesn’t work for us, and in the end, when you consider all the expense to make cheese (the rennet, waxes, salts, straining fabric, cheese cave, the energy input, and of course the MILK) it is a small price to pay for prepared cultures that give you a reasonable assurance of a good outcome.

I see all sorts of positive reviews and raves on the internet regarding his book, but not many pictures of cheese, let alone blue ribbons. Makes me wonder.

Posted in Dairy Cattle, Food, Home Economics | 1 Comment

The Drought Breaks

This year our drought came late, and was particularly acute in the final two weeks of September. We’ve had little rain since early September, so the ground was very dry. This was probably punishment for getting all excited after the initial rain we received after hurricane Harvey; we’ve received almost no precipitation since then.

Yesterday I mowed down most of the garden for the year. Ordinarily I roto-till then sew Winter Wheat and culti-pack to provide an overwintering cover crop. But this year it was so dry that the mower was kicking up dust clouds. It would have been a disaster to have tilled in such conditions.


Without a doubt good pasture is a far nicer scene than a field of dry soybeans. The Perennial Ryegrass held on though the drought, and with some rain, flushed into a lush green. 

So I just waited. Tomorrow I will roto-till and sew the Wheat. Indeed, the “Hessian fly free” planting date for my latitude in Indiana is October 3rd according to Purdue University, and I’ve stuck to this in the past. This year I will be a little late. The truth is that date has little to do with it. The germination of winter grains is far more dependent upon moisture and good soil-seed contact than it is dependent upon anything else. If either one of those is lacking, germination will be poor. I use a culti-packer to improve contact and just hope for rain, though I suppose with the small field of wheat I plant I could irrigate it.

Posted in Food, Gardening, Pasture Farming, Weather | Leave a comment

An Ode to White Clover

One of the most unheralded, yet important, plants of agricultural merit is the little White Clover plant. The Irish seem to have understood its importance. The plant which England chose to represent itself, the Rose, is beautiful no doubt, but for the most part inedible to man and beast, and has thorns. The Welsh had more sense in choosing the Leak, a praiseworthy vegetable, but hardly something one can live off. And the Scots. What can be said of people that chose a Thistle to represent them? But the Irish, or perhaps St. Patrick in alluding to the Holy Trinity, chose the cloverleaf. Clover, along with some grass, can feed a people (well, their beasts). The Irish suffered a potato blight, but I fear, a clover blight would have been the end of them.


Fortunately White Clover is an outstandingly vigorous plant, incredibly resilient, and very productive. In some ways, it can be considered immortal. While individual White Clover plants may die, and in fact don’t live very long at all on average, they have the remarkable ability to “creep,” which is what the latin word Repens means in their taxonomic name: trifolum repens translates “creeping three leaves.” This creeping is simply the plants’ ability to issue lateral stems, or stolons, that take root and develop into another independent clover plant. Many plants have this ability, like strawberries, but none do it as aggressively as White Clover. If there is a gap where sunlight isn’t being consumed by some taller plant, you can be sure White Clover will be in there soon to make use of it. By constantly creeping the massive colony of White Clover in a pasture can live essentially forever. Only the darkest woods can overcome White Clover.


Despite its prodigious propagative ability, White Clover has incredibly vigorous seeds as well. I seeded all my pastures (over 7 acres) with just 10 pounds of seed, about enough to fill a gallon milk jug. The seeding rate for White Clover is usually listed at 2 pounds to the acre, and this isn’t seed catalog hype, like it is with many other plants (8 pounds per acre of Red Clover is certainly hype, I’ve never had good coverage with less than 12). Because of that ability to creep, any mistakes you make in applying the seed are easily forgiven, and may even go unnoticed. The seeds are small and round, so they fling quite nicely. They also do well frost seeded.

But all of this would be pretty unremarkable if it weren’t for the secret weapon that all clovers (and all legumes) possess. After all, Kentucky Bluegrass, Canarygrass, and Bromegrass all creep. The difference is the unique symbiotic relationship legumes developed with certain bacteria. The legume provides a home, and sugar, to the bacteria. The bacteria specialize in fixing atmospheric nitrogen into useable nitrate, the building block of amino acids (which make up protein), for the legume. These bacteria are called Rhizobia and they live in little visible nodules on the roots of legumes. It is not lost on me that this symbiosis parallels the beneficent symbiosis ruminant animals have with bacteria in their rumen which break down cellulose.

Rhizobia symbiosis makes a pasture with good legume content essentially self fertilizing. A healthy, balanced pasture will take in all the nitrogen it needs from the air. The only fertilizers that will be needed are occasional inputs of various elemental fertilizers. Small amounts of lime (to provide calcium and magnesium), granite (to provide phosphorus mainly), and potash (to provide potassium). One thing White Clover cannot tolerate is a lack of these elements or an improper pH, but just about any soil can be amended to make it hospitable to White Clover, and once this is done, the fertility of the soil is highly durable and improves with time. Grains, especially corn, only wear out a soil with time. White Clover restores.

Of great benefit is the  automatic balancing of legumes and grasses in a healthy pasture. When the nitrogen availability is depleted the legumes will get the upper hand and outcompete the grasses, which cannot fix their own nitrogen. When the nitrogen is plentiful, the grasses, which grow faster, will get the upper hand on the legume. No legume competes with grass as effectively as White Clover. In fact, all the other legumes will eventually succumb to grass. Once they’ve brought the nitrogen level up, the grasses dominate, and the legumes die back. White Clover just waits, for it is immortal, and the time will come again when the nitrogen is depleted, and then it will spring forth.


Foreground is Red Clover in its first year, and in the background is Red Clover in its 3rd year. See how the grass comes to dominate! Even Alfalfa, the most persistent, eventually succumbs to grass like this. But not White Clover.

For decades my fields were in what is known as “continuous corn.” This is the practice of planting corn every year and applying every spring the exact amount of synthetic fertilizer that crop scientists say is removed from the field by the previous corn crop. This means the field is sprayed with highly soluble nitrogen fertilizer, which suppress the native nitrogen fixing bacteria. So, when I transitioned my fields to pasture, there was not much in the way of free-living nitrogen fixing bacteria in the soil. Pretty much the ONLY nitrogen fixing bacteria was the rhizobia hitching rides on the seed of the White Clover. This gave the clover such a competitive advantage verses any grass or forb out there that it resulted in nearly a monoculture of White Clover, which can be dangerous. As I’ve alluded to before, most legumes, and each of the big three (Alfalfa, White Clover, and Red Clover) can cause bloat in ruminant livestock, a fatal condition. The best prevention for bloat is to keep the legume content under 60% in a pasture and to plant only high-quality grasses. White Clover is one of the tastiest and most palatable plants, and cattle greatly prefer it. So if the grass out there is not so good, grasses like Orchardgrass and Fescue, only White Clover may be consumed. This is why I think Ryegrass and Bluegrass, the two most palatable grasses, should be well represented in a pasture.

Another benefit of White Clover is that in addition to being the ideal pasture legume, it is also the perfect Honey Bee forage plant. White Clover produces many flowers, and they bloom pretty much continuously from early Spring through the end of Fall, providing a steady stream of very neutral tasting nectar. The plants, being small and densely distributed, are highly efficient for honeybees. Instead of traveling great distances to gather nectar and return to the hive, they can hit nearly every flower in a small patch, load up, and head back. After all, a worker bee’s life is measured in miles, not time. They fly until their wings shred up. I am convinced the decline of honey bee populations is in part caused by decreasing use of White Clover in agriculture. Alfalfa, a much bigger plant, seems more productive to the farmer, so it is grown instead. Too bad Alfalfa is poor Honey Bee forage, and even Red Clover isn’t of much use to Honey bees, either. Alfalfa has a special relationship with the (useless) Alfalfa Leaf-cutter Bee, and Red Clover has a special relationship with (useless) Bumble Bees.

White clover is usually sold in three different kinds, or eco-types. There is dwarf or “Dutch” white clover, which is very diminutive plant. It is what is usually found in lawns. And there is Ladino, which is much larger. Ladino is almost as large as Red Clover. In between is standard White Clover, which I think is the best for most purposes. It is highly stoloniferous like dwarf, yet almost as large and productive as Ladino. It works as hay and as pasture. And there are improved varieties available. The one I have used, and have been extremely impressed with, is called Kopu II. Bred in New Zealand, it is very productive, surprisingly drought tolerant, and very stoloniferous. Incredibly economical as well. It is only about $5 per acre and can be essentially immortal. Only Kentucky Bluegrass is comparably frugal.

Posted in Dairy Cattle, Food, Grass, Pasture Farming, Rotational Grazing, Wildlife | Leave a comment