Saturday, June 30, 2012

To Mow or Not To Mow


This is a subject that Mike and I have argued about since moving to this property almost 7 years ago.  Mike would like to see high pasture, belly deep on the horses.  For some reason, he thinks that is optimal.  I disagree, quite strongly in fact, and I'll give my points of view below.


I like the way it LOOKS!   My formers neighbors used to use the terms "pristine".   Coming from them (and knowing them) it sounded ridiculous to me, but looking at the pictures below, I have to admit that the pasture does indeed, look pristine!

It looks awesome, right?  But below are pictures of how it would look if I didn't mow.

I think the second pasture looks messy and unkept, but then again, perhaps I AM a bit of a "pasture snob".  There are other reason why I choose to mow.


It's a well known fact that horses won't graze where they poop or pee, if alternatives are available.  As such, those ungrazed portions get overgrown.  Also, horses prefer the newest, sweetest, most tender shoots of grass.  Over about four inches, they tend to ignore the grass and look for the choicest morsels, which was where they grazed before.  Unless the manure is spread or picked up, and the tall areas mowed, you will get a pasture that looks like the pictures above.  Short spots and high spots.


Mowing the high spots reduces the areas of cover for unwanted critters such as mice and bugs.  Gnats and mosquitos will "roost" in the long blades of grass, swarming when disturbed.  Less mice means, well, less mice, and I'm ok with that.


Mowing creates munch, which supports root development and holds moisture in the ground, as opposed to on the blades of grass.  We live in an area with a lot of coarse sand, so helping the ground hold moisture is a definite plus for us.


When moisture is held on the long blades of grass, a horse walking through it is at risk of developing scratches

By keeping the grass short, the risk is prevented.  Every year, about this time, I hear of local horses developing this problem.  In the almost seven years that we have lived at this property, I have NEVER had a single case.


By mowing, I have the opportunity to look at the pasture, in small pieces, to determine the general condition of the pasture.  I can see when clover is becoming a problem and spray to prevent it.  I can see dry spots and adjust the sprinklers accordingly.  I can see where the topsoil has become compacted and we need to plug and fertilize.

One of my former neighbors thought that throwing down seed and letting the grass sprout was enough.  It is NOT!  There is so much more to maintaining a healthy pasture.

So, I mow.

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