How to turn dry field into pasture?

Larsen Poultry Ranch

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Hello! Is there a way to turn a dry field into at least the start of a pasture in summer? Or is it a waste of time and water? We moved to our new property in Nov and are finally starting to be able to water around the property. As it's northern California, the field was a lot of miner's lettuce when we had spring rains, then various weeds and now it's dry dead weeds. I'd like to get it to a point where we could run sheep/goats on it or at least be able to walk out on cool grass. Is this even possible to start now or do I need to wait until the fall rains?

We do have wild turkeys, deer, and jack rabbits who will probably be taking advantage of the field even if we get fencing up they are hard to keep out. Hubby wouldn't mind if they stuck around into hunting seasons so I guess I should aim for what would feed them as well as make a nice pasture.

Any suggestions are appreciated.
 

misfitmorgan

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Drought tolerant grasses would also probly be a good idea to help with the lack of water.

This link shares a study of a pasture mix of draught tolerant and cool season forages. Good place to start I would think. A google search of drought tolerant forages brings up lots of info.
http://www.beefresearch.ca/factsheet.cfm/drought-tolerant-forage-mixtures-55

Whatever you go with depending how much land you are trying to make into pasture it may be better to wait until rain season to limit your need to water the pasture while it gets established. Bay knows lots about trying to make a pasture on dry(sand) ground in a hot place. She has done a fantastic job and had a whole thread on the process.
 

Alaskan

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Whatever you go with depending how much land you are trying to make into pasture it may be better to wait until rain season to limit your need to water the pasture while it gets established
X2

Even some very drought tolerant grasses need a week or 2 of overcast to germinate and get really started.

Trying to get anything started in the midst of a heat wave/hot summer will not work well.

Get everything set up to seed, so when a week of rain /clouds are coming you can run out and plant.

As to what to plant... your local extension office can point you right.
 

Larsen Poultry Ranch

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Thanks all! I guess I need to do some more research and contact the ag dept at the county, then wait till fall when the rains start back up.

It rarely drops into the 30s here during the coldest parts of winter, so we don't really worry about much freezing. The heat is pretty bad in summer, this summer as example. Got up to 110 or higher some days. I'm hoping if we can green up a lot of the property it won't get so hot. I'll see if I can get some pictures this weekend.

There's a lot of tree cover too, was thinking we should get rid of a bunch of the buckeye trees and plant some different kinds that will take a few years to get as big to allow the grass/vegetation a chance to get established with the sunshine.
 

Larsen Poultry Ranch

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How big of an area are you trying to turn into pasture?
I dunno? An acre or two? Need to figure out if we can measure it. I'm not good at estimating distances. It's the lower area, from the septic field zone down to the cruddy fence partway through the property. Wanting to green it up at least and maybe make it have somewhat decent graze for sheep/goats in the future. Eventually will be working farther down the parcel as well. The whole thing is 10.5 acres. The cruddy fence is 1/3 - 1/2 down the parcel and beyond it is all trees and poison oak. They had horses pastured in the upper area for a few years so there's not much brush but lots of oak, buckeyes, and some pines, so lots of shade.
 

Baymule

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What is your soil?
Here we have pure sand. No guys, just sand. We have worked like mad to add humus, it’s finally paying off.
Take the short cut and find old round bales, if you can. Roll them out and let them rot into the ground. I can grow winter grasses, but lack of humus, the sun gets the sand hot and it cooks the new grass roots.

Couldn’t find any old round bales, so we fed horse bales on pipeline, moving the bale each time. The dropped hay and horse poop sure did the trick?
 

Larsen Poultry Ranch

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It's variable. Definitely not sand, but not always nice dirt. Very red in most parts but not where there's been lots of vegetation or composted manure. LOTS of rocks in the ground too.

Guess we probably should do some sort of survey throughout the property to take pics of the different dirt at different locations.
 
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