Saturday, April 3, 2010
Our Ginseng Clean Up
Goodbye YMCA membership -there is a new fitness program in my life. It's called the Grassworks Family Farm and I have never been so tired. It's a good kind of tired, that comes with a sense of accomplishment and a tangible outcome. Two overweight, out of shape, city folks got initiated this week. This is our project:
Ginseng made some Marathon County farmers very wealthy, but like so many things it was not sustainable. Part of our acreage was in ginseng 15-20 years ago, the roots were harvested and the slatted wooden rafters (a ginseng crop needs artificial shade) stacked up for another crop. Except the prices dropped by more than 50% from $40/lb for dried root and $100/lb for seed. So there sit the stacks and stack of rafters. We asked that they be removed before buying the property and they were-mostly. They missed a little bit:
What was left behind was pounds and pounds of metal-staples, spikes, nails, etc-all the hardware which held the artificial shade structures together. We don't have the equipment to bury it so we are hauling it to the scrap pile on Dad's property. Every farm around here has a rock pile/scrap pile where stuff goes over the decades- his has coils and coils of rusty barbed wire, old implement parts, rusted out livestock watering tanks. I used to look at these sites and think ick, what an eye sore-but now I see them as a necessary evil and sort of an archaeological site-lots of information about how farming has changed over the years! Anyway -THANKS DAD!
We spent our freakishly warm (80 degree) April Fool's day raking and shoveling and dumping. When we realized we were NOT going to finish in one day the fight went out of us and we moved on the the garden -something we CAN finish(see previous post). I think we will finish this burn site next weekend and get the area hand rototilled (not with the tractor -I don't want to have a punctured tractor tire to replace!) and spread some sort of grass/clover seed on the site. I will never feel 100% comfortable grazing livestock over here, but since this will be the main 'cross-country' route between dad's place and ours we won't leave it as is. There are 2 more burn sites like this one running parallel to our driveway, we won't tackle these this year.
Ahh, the grass is growing and spring is here. Hopefully next year this will be an established pasture and pond at the low site at the right.