we’ve had plans since we moved here of turning our first field into a pasture suitable for raising livestock on. like most folks in this area, we are on the acequia (ditch) irrgation system.

at long last, after a very great many planning conversations, some experiments with flooding it the way it was (too high for the water to get all the way across), we tackled the project this weekend. our friends Don & Leiah at Johnny’s Garden brought their tractor down, and plowed, disked and then levelled the field.

here’s the field before we started:
Before tilling.

we began the day by moving a giant pile of barnyard compost. in the 4+ years we’ve been here, the barnyard compost “system” had gotten completely out of hand, and become a giant sprawling pile of straw and manure, too close to the chicken pens for comfort — providing a prime habitat for rats. so we started by moving it, and spreading it all out in the field prior to tilling.

Leiah & Alan loosening the packed compost:
loosening compost for moving

Don pulling it out of the pile with the tractor’s box:
moving compost

moving compost

our sense of accomplishment at the end of THAT project is nearly boundless!
the compost is moved!

the whole pile gone:
newly cleared compost area

just a little cleanup left to do. which is now something that can be easily managed with shovels and wheelbarrows.

then Don hitched the plow to the tractor, and began to till the field.

he and Leiah traded off driving the tractor over the course of the day.


Alan removed some scrubby little elm trees once the tractor had ripped through their roots.
removing elms

the field turned out to be very good soil, overall.

downright beautiful.

once the whole field was plowed, Don began the process of disking it. this breaks up the large clumps of soil into soft, crumbly soil.


that was enough for one day. this morning’s work started here:
the almost-levelled field

and included tilling the edges, disking the whole thing, and then using the box to begin to level the field.

the west side of the field is now wholly levelled.
the almost-levelled field

the extra dirt, pulled up along the north edge there, will become the first layer of what will be the road running along the north side of the property. we’re essentially extending the driveway so that we have access to the back.

the almost-levelled field

the east side is not quite done. Don will be back later in the week to finish this up. the dirt along the south and east will become berms, to hold the water in when we irrigate.
the almost-levelled field

meanwhile, all this removed our old walking path through the field. Alan and I made a new path, lining the edges with sticks to keep people on the path (rather than compacting soil everywhere with our feet).
new path

all in all, a fantastic weekend’s work! i’m very excited to finish this job and flood the field. by the end of next month, we’ll have a green pasture out there!