I’ve been thinking a lot about grass. My horses also (presumably) think a lot about it. They’re disappointed so far this year because our pasture grass has not truly begun to grow yet. Another frost this morning is just adding to our very late, very cold spring. I stand at the fence and study the grass and worry about it. The grass is the main food source for my critters all summer. Our winter hay ran out early because we had two solid months of snow-covered ground. My hay guy and neighbor keeps bringing me what he can, but it is increasingly less attractive as he digs deep into the recesses of his barn for hay baled nearly a year ago. I toss out a few flakes and the horses sniff it before walking up the hill in search of better food, only to return soon after to pick through the hay. When you’re hungry you’ll eat almost anything.
My husband and two of my kids returned late Saturday night (actually early Sunday morning) from a work project in Honduras. They were helping to build homes for the homeless in a remote village in the mountains where prosperity is judged by whether or not you have any chickens. I asked my son how the food was during their 9 day stay and he said, “I’ve learned to be a lot less picky about my food.”
The horses are figuring this out too while we wait for the grass to grow. I sent a soil sample off to Penn State for analysis and found out that my pasture soil has a perfect ph, plenty of nitrogen, but is low in phosphorus. This will require a custom blend of fertilizer which is probably more money than I’m willing to throw at this problem. This led to some research on fertilizers.
Did you know that Americans use 90 million pounds of fertilizers and 78 million pounds of pesticides on their lawns each year? And nobody is even depending on that grass for survival. In light of the stories and pictures from my kids’ experience in Honduras, that seems grossly excessive. Those fertilizers do make the grass bright green, but they also contaminate rivers and streams and eventually drinking water. There is a creek at the bottom of my hill and every time it rains we watch as a steady torrent of water runs from our pasture, down our driveway, across the road to the stream below. If I were to apply the fertilizer I’m considering, how much of it would land in Deer Creek? And is it really worth it?