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Stressless Farm Blog - Wildlife Habitat Improvements

Stressless

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2,201
85
Keene, OH
2023 first touch chores, sometime in early March. In no particular order.

Next work touch Apr during Turkey season.

- Buy light+ accessories for dock, fix and turn on
- stock three fishing ponds, Fishbowl, Figure 8 and Crescent
- spray simazine on switchgrass, if any green spray gly w 24d
-- Pipeline, Potato, FrontPad, Backpad
- spread remaining gypsum on new dirt turned last Aug
- harrow all plots prior to frost seed
- blow leaves off turkey hunting plots and where matted
-- 2", Greenbrier, backpad, edge, bottom?
- frost seed all plots
- soil sample all plots
- razorblade Rednecks glass
- Strap for top of Pinchpoint stand
- Spoil N stand. to the North about 20°
- Move Swamp stand to create new swamp
- Front stand to better overwatch FrontPad
- look at Pine for new stand locations
- move Spoil N cam N 30' with new licking branch
- create funnel into Greenbrier 25yds
- utilization cages all plots
- put up two new wood duck houses
-- E of beaver pond and W of Fishbowl
-- new bedding in 2 houses N of BackPad
- check deep woods opening cut 18 months ago, plan on when to revisit and cut around spruce and cedar planted 9 months ago
- check spruce screen on Greenbrier
- check cypress planting on Crescent
-- order replacement trees for all - Apr delivery

Plots are doing great 👍, as Albert put up in No-till blog, the crops are growing everyday the soil temps get above 37° South facing slope plots obviously heat up and produce better in these cooler temps.
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Stressless

Active Member
2,201
85
Keene, OH
Just getting everything setup to get the Jan/Feb/Mar chores done in a week at the farm here in a bit. Gonna be busy...

Minerals
Thickening 100yds around plots
Thickening around the bedding
Cut and spray invasives in bedding
Spray simazine on switchgrass areas < 2 yrs
Harrow plots
Blow leaves off some plots
Frost seeding mix and seed
Soil samples
Exclusion cages
Pulling some stands

Pine plot, my worst plot is doing well. No herbicides, no rye, just good soil via pH and NPK dialed in, mowing, and frost seeding legumes.
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Stressless

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2,201
85
Keene, OH
Spent a good week hard at it, many trials and some errors caused seemingly every task and chore to drag on and take longer than expected.

The weekend before the week in OH the Mrs and I drove up to my boys place and found us working hard trimming and grinding about 3 tons of limbs and two trees Fri and Sat.


Some tasks have priority due to the time of year, those got in front and done:

5 of 6 mineral licks in and going went kinda heavy this year and year 2 for adding dry molasses to the standard mix.

All new turned dirt from Sep last year got gypsum finally, 2450# on 4 plots. Snagged the soil samples and went with WTI - sent Fri and got them back already.
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With the price of fertilizer not sure I'll be ademending in April as planned.

Had 2 duck boxes, poles, predator shield at the barn so got two more up. All 18 wood duck houses ready for occupancy.
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Headed out to harrow the leaves in plots and of course a girdled tree fell into the center ...🤦 time suck..
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Got it all cleaned up ..
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Trying to see if I can draw turkey to this plot, had good pics last year

Got a couple other strutting plots cleaned off as well.
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Hope to have three spots for the blind this year.

All the plots are looking very good with the mild winter the rye and legumes are both putting forage up whenever the soil gets a hint warmer. Utilization cages making it easy to see.

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Had many issues with the cold coupled with thick simazine for on switchgrass, lost many hours fighting that but neighbor Cliff and I got it all down for premeergent weeds. Biggest issue was the in line filter on the 25gal Fimco sprayer. It never seems worth it until It works, 2y/o switchgrass is standing shoulder high.
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Didn't get to the stands I wanted to get up but don't need them in until early Sep, plenty of time. Marked some trees while scouting the deep woods openings with Chris so all I need to do is put them up at this point.

Bottom line is, early March and the herd looks healthy.
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And the plots are frost seeded and rolling for the '23 season.
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Stressless

Active Member
2,201
85
Keene, OH
Been getting some good turkey pics via cell cam and also able to see the plots rye regeneration with the warm wx the last couple weeks. This was fresh turned clay & shale in early Sep. Legumes, rye, lime and gypsum making good browsing. All the plots are drawing the target critters and helping all critters.
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Stressless

Active Member
2,201
85
Keene, OH
One of the guys I've been learning from is Dr. Grant Woods, he gives a wavetop science review and his buddy gives a everyman review that is very enjoyable. The plots on the farm are finally in the soil building state and will only get better.

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Stressless

Active Member
2,201
85
Keene, OH
Very happy with how well the plots are doing relative to the pressure they received Sep-Mar. Last year was rhe first year I had the same blend in every plot and it worked great. The plots broke even about mid-Apr in spring green-up, in that their growth outpaced the lessening browse pressure.

2inch, note that it was mostly bare dirt in early Sep '22.
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Edge, again mostly bare dirt early Sep '22.
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Spoil, established plot that was browsed to "chin high" about nid Dec but the rye kept producing in the those warm periods.
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Backpad
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Pine
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I had planted Chestnut trees, they're one of those diluted Chinese Chestnut's with American Chestnut... after getting them behind browse guards they really responded and had good growth. The freeze nipped them fairly hard thou... other tree species that had bedded out didn't show anywhere near this level of burn.
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I got the second application of lime down on the plot areas zi opened last Sep. Letting it cook over summer and test again this Sep to know where I'm at... put 1700# on the plots and 1150# in Crescent pond
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The 160 buck Cliff shot last fall walked thru FrontPad and 150 Dutton the year prior walked almost the exact same place. Hung a stand, licking branch and dropped trees to funnel them where I might have an opportunity.
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Stressless

Active Member
2,201
85
Keene, OH
This June marks 10 years since I took over management of the farm. I've got to pull some pics before and after but the change is so stark that it's not easily recognizable from a couple snaps. I'll figure some way to convey the Before and After but no food on the property to 10 plots, poor hunting methods to managed access etc... this thread chronicles trials and errors and a couple successes I've had while I've been blessed to be a steward of the land. I appreciate the site and effort it takes to keep this capability up and working as a viable means to share.

The farm got ~ 3" of rain mid June, I got here and terminated the rye by cutting with a brushhog 5 days later. Many weeds that were just about to go to seed or viable seed from grasses to thistles also got lopped off. That saved broadcasting those weed seeds if I would have done it even a week later. At this point I have two "sets" of plots, Those tthat are just coming into perennial stage from bare dirt last Sep and those that in the perennial stage. Making observations this week of the plots that got IMOX'd in April and those that didn't I will most likely go to an every other year IMOX'ng the plots. This is due to the setback IMOX causes on the legumes and the heavy browse pressure all the plots get - that double whammy in the spring Apr/May early June growing season has some of my established plots struggling a bit - the drought we had Mid-May to Mid - June also played a part but removing the IMOX on half the plots going forward is the next experiment. I hope to see some of the residual IMOX and as Albert points out, "Rye is inherently allelopathic which helps to suppress weeds for the next year from germinating." as well as mowing once or twice a summer might be enough to suppress the weeds.

After sharpening the brushhog blades and basically running it thru the farm pit-stop I got going on the mowing.
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2" plot is in the finale stage of begning to soil build lol. In that it's been amended with AgLime and Gypsum to help the pH and loosen the soil, no synthetic fertilizer has been applied to date, I'll check via soil samples this fall mostly to dial in any pH gap to the desired 6.8 pH. The rye and some grasses seed heads were all in still the dough stage the thick vegetation helped keep much of the mid-June rain. The thatch from the rye and 2-3" of legumes, Red and White perennial clovers, Birdsfoot trefoil and Chicory didn't clump and bunch too much - I had been worried that it would and smother the legumes. Planning to take some after shots and see how that part, Is the Thatch too thick? question gets answered. This was 130#/acre rye sowed 8 Sep, initial planting of legumes at 15#/acre same date, frost seeded 6#/acre legumes 10 Mar.
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Edge plot in the same shape.
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Spoil Plot is in perennial stage so it got IMOX'd last spring '22 and this spring '23, it's a 1/4 acre in woods, it gets browsed heavy and you can see the IMOX terminated the rye so there's very little thatch to lay down while mowing. This is one I'll try to build better soil with no IMOX in '24 and heavy rye this Sep.
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The 3 y/o swtichgrass is really jumping right now, it's on track with being 6'-7' in Sep. BackPad is another plot that got IMOX'd twice in two years and will let the Rye go until June in '24.
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I was having fun mowing the plots and wanted to revamp a old plot I let go for three years, lots of 8'- 12' suckers and briers on Grassy Knoll, I could tell the belt was getting worn so I figured I'd use it on that plot until it went bad and change it. It almost got through it... but not quite. Put the new belt on and got it done proper.
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One thing I found interesting, in every utilization cage there was blooming Red Clover, outside the cage nadda, not one bloom, which leads me to believe that the deer are selectively browsing the red clover. Chicory and Birdfoot Trefoil were close seconds to the selective browse pressure but nearly as pronounced.
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Fresh cutting draws them it appears..
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Sgt Fury

Sgt. Spellchecker
A week or so passed from the plots being mowed. They are all in this blend and look this lush or better. No plan to cut or spray until I overseed rye into it in early Sep. Just a couple touches a year this point.


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Looking good! Based on my observations from the clover in my back yard I’m going to guess that your plot is LOADED with honey bees.👍
 

Stressless

Active Member
2,201
85
Keene, OH
Plots are doing well but getting beat with utilization... making great food but bearly keeping in front of the browsing pressure. The new plots/expanded areas with first year perennials turning out great with the pH dialed in and rye cut for thatch.

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Inside the utilization cage it's 12"-14" of lush legumes, outside the cage, 4+ acres and 10 plots, all in the same legume blend it's browsed down to 3"-5".

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Soils dark and moist in all the plots, there's some shale outcrops that only lichens would love so not really counting those few spots.

The tow behind brushhog nicks the ground once in awhile making soil obs really obvious lol.

This is on top a spoil bank so really happy with the results from keeping it covered in perennial and annual forage.

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3 y/o Switchgrass is 5'-6' tall and growing.

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The switch got a little too thick/high so trimmed it back into the shooting lane for gun season in Halfway blind. Pics are from the same cam/tree.
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Broadleaves are making inroads on 2 or 3 plots, trimmed the plots to clip the them and other annual weeds, we'll see in a couple weeks, might spot spray them or just hit the worst plots with Butyrac then reseed chicory.

The overall outcome desired is to capture some mature bucks that will make this area their daylight home range. ✔
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Providing for other species as well. Plot full of Jakes and Tom's.

Well. That's a good mix Jeff 😉 -
 
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Stressless

Active Member
2,201
85
Keene, OH
Feeling a little good and uneasy about this. All 11 plots are now in maintenance mode, perennial legumes with an overseeding of fall annuals.

I touched up the spreadsheet so I can calculate the liveseed I want on the ground by plugging in the % Germ and % Coating. Prices are from Merit last week. Plan to sow the oats and crimson clover next week if there's a rain and layer rye on top of all that first week or so of Sept.

The live seed rate probably looks a little wonky, but based on 50# bags if you look at the total #seed it works for utilizing ever bit of seed bought.
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All the plots showed heavy browsing, this one, FrontPad and BackPad are .6 acre plots no way to plant enough in that to compensate for the herd browsing for 10 hours a day....
 
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