Winter has started and while working in the vineyard this week removing the last of the weed mat and rocks originally put there to hold it down the chooks joined in scratching around the vine stems cleaning up grubs. They are good company and will work right alongside to make sure they don't miss out. Not using a chicken tractor has its downside i.e. the girls frequently dig cavities in the grass to get to soil for their dirt bath. There is the occasional lurch you step into a deep hole but it doesn't seem fair to confine them as they love ranging over the Vineyard, Orchard and Nuttery. The freedom does mean they can get close to every tree and into every corner. The trees have benefited now for over 20 years of droppings spread widely. The grass is also lush which is not such a wonderful benefit but then mowing from time to time adds mulch. Sir Albert Howard was not an advocate of having grass grow under trees and his trials showed a distinct advantage for tree with bare soil under their drip line. The weed mat originally provided that clear ground as well as stopped the chooks scratching away the copious amounts of cow manure that was deposited under the trees in their youth. But eventually the wee mat became over grown and slowed the penetration of water. Last Winter with a supreme effort all the weed mat and accompanying rocks were removed. So for now the mature trees will have to learn to live with the grass at their feet.
|Weed mat overgrown|